BOSSES PIVOT
Upscale Magazine|June 2020
How two black-owned businesses prepared themselves to push through the pandemic.
YVETTE CASLIN

As any good wedding planner knows, you always have to have a plan B when disaster strikes. But what about a real disaster—in the form of a global pandemic in which schools are closed, major events like the Olympics are postponed, and group gatherings, particularly weddings, are on hold indefinitely?

When the COVID crisis threatened her business and livelihood, it was almost a “nature of the job” instinct for event planner Courtney Ajinca to make a boss-move pivot.

“Believe it or not, the mandate doesn’t have to stop couples from saying ‘I do’ on their intended wedding date,” says Ajinca, a celebrity event and wedding planner, whose clients include boutique owner Rasheeda Frost, reality star Quad Webb, CVS, Ulta and NBC. (She even orchestrated the marriage proposal of Real Housewives of Atlanta star Cynthia Bailey.) “They just have to be more creative and think of ways that they can observe their special day virtually. The show must go on, and I will do everything in my power to make it happen.”

In making the show go on, Ajinca is also making her business go on, shifting her business model to survive in this new age. But that adjustment might prove harder for some black-owned businesses.

The COVID-19 crisis could potentially devastate a number of minority- and women-owned businesses, if it hasn’t already disrupted them. According to the Brookings Institute, nationally, people of color collectively represent about 40 percent of the population but only 20 percent of the nation’s 5.6 million business owners with employees. Sadly, those numbers might dip even lower as the country heads deeper into recession.

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