Woman business owner sheds light on inequities in small business lending – CBS Denver
DENVER (CBS4) – A new year brings another round of small business loans for those struggling to stay open during the pandemic, but the requirements don’t always allow those most in need to apply. The challenges some face in 2021 come as data shows the past year has been particularly difficult for women-owned businesses.
The gender gap shows that businesses run by men were more likely to recover from the spring shutdown.
“I kind of let society or just my peers make me feel like I wasn’t doing enough by just being a mom,” said Ashlie Ordonez, owner of The Bare Bar in Denver. “I want to show other women that you can have five kids and your dream career, and you can do it all, and it’s going to be exhausting and it’s going to be hard work but it’s going to be worth it.”
She spent years in the beauty industry, and in 2019 decided it was time to open her own spa. While initially the plan was to wait a year, she felt it was necessary to move forward immediately. Ordonez convinced her husband that they should take their five children and move into a new home, going from 4,000 square feet to 1,800 square feet so they could use the money to start the business.
“She does anything, she can do anything, I can do it too,” Ordonez said in a video conference Tuesday.
She explained that women inspired her to become a business owner and that she wanted to do the same for others.
“Women who support women, and women who are not afraid to enter a world where men are predominantly. “
A lease signed in February 2020 would allow it to open a month later once construction is complete. She hired women to be part of the spa and found products from other women-owned businesses.
Ordonez also showcased the art of women.
“She started to cry. “They just shut us down. It was March 17th, ”Ordonez recalls of one of his employees last year. “‘They just closed us, we’re not opening on Saturday.'”
Even though she had been planning for months and had obtained a large sum of money by selling her house, Ordonez had to wait until May to open her new business. March is usually the start of a busy season in the beauty industry, so she already knew they were behind on their goals.
She tried to get a PPP loan, but because her business was so new, she missed the deadline by a few weeks to be eligible. The government has asked you to demonstrate the loss of income suffered by the pandemic based on 2019 income. Only those who opened in early 2020 or earlier could still apply.
“Stop telling me that I was not affected economically, I absolutely was,” she said. “It’s really hard to hear that all of these big companies, which are million dollar companies, getting P3s when we little people need them the most.”
The same challenge will present itself later in the year when she turned to the Small Business Association for help. The summer was overall a success as clientele grew and people felt more comfortable receiving spa services during the pandemic.
Another setback was in the works, however, as restrictions increased again in the fall, and October was the last month she had solid numbers on the books.
“The second the restaurants closed, it was a tumble. It was so scary how fast and dramatic it was. “
The decline she saw towards the end of 2020 is very much in line with what economists have seen in the Denver metro area for this part of the last quarter. Ordonez says it lost 60% of its customers after October and a new round of restrictions.
Gusto economists say the impact of this slowdown has been even more impactful for women. The company manages payroll and benefits for thousands of small businesses across the country and has its largest employee office in Denver.
“There is a big gap in the recovery rate, and women business owners in Denver were able to recover at a 5% lower rate, which is really a testament to the challenges they face both economically and socially. house, ”said Luke Pardue, a Gusto economist.
Women workers were fired at a rate 20% higher than men when employed in a company. The gender difference in impact is a testament to the responsibilities women, like Ordonez, face every day as mothers running a business and keeping students up to date with homework assignments.
Data shows that there is even a relationship between neighborhood closures and women owners taking over their businesses.
“The long-term effects of these scars are going to be felt throughout the careers of these women and across generations to their children,” Pardue said on a video conference.
While the loss of income has occurred rapidly over several months, it wipes out a lifetime of investments by families that may not be recovered. The potential impact on future generations is why Gusto is advocating for additional help from Congress. Additional funding may be needed by the middle of this year, Pardue explained.
While the outlook for this year is brighter, in part thanks to the rollout of the vaccine, lessons from the pandemic highlight gender inequality. Years in business lead to greater experience of navigating economic challenges and developing relationships over time, including banks.
“I would like to see a world where women don’t feel like they don’t have to bring their husbands to a meeting,” she said. “I’m covered in tattoos and feel like I’m definitely being judged by my blanket rather than who I am.”
Ordonez says she always felt like people made assumptions about her and having her husband with her made a difference in getting her business started. Last month, with no signs of changing restrictions, she had already cut the hours of her remaining employees and felt like she was in a bind.
Selling a ring that celebrated her 10th wedding anniversary was one of the last options left.
“I never thought I would have a rock like this,” she said. “So I was super excited to have it, but it’s just a piece of hardware. We have to get rid of it so we can pay the rent.
Another sacrifice made by her family, she continued her business and asked her landlord for all kinds of rent breaks until the economic situation improved. She estimates that these adjustments, including the silver in the ring, will keep her alive for three months.
Enough time to hopefully bring it to another busy season in March and get help from the government.
“I am very proud of where I am and the hard work I have put in,” said Odonez. “I have no regrets, I am very happy I did this.”
While rushing to open her business might not have been the best idea, and waiting a year after the pandemic began could have been to her advantage, she remains optimistic about her future. The experiences of the past 11 months are enough to last a lifetime and inspire other women to follow.
“I feel like we just need to get out of our own way, and we just need to stop focusing so much on what other people think or have to say. We just need to be resourceful, we need to strengthen ourselves. each other, ”she said of businesswomen.“ Stop telling yourself you can’t do it, I learned so much this year and it’s because I jumped and that I stopped being afraid. “