Like so many small businesses owners in Santa Barbara County, Garrett Gerstenberger and Jose Cardoso of Isla Vista Screen Printing have been working every hour of every day trying to deal with the fallout from the COVID-19 crisis.
With revenues dropping near zero, the two owners were forced to lay off their staff, and are taking on the immense challenge of keeping their 10-year business afloat themselves.
“I’m not seeing the light too often,” said Mr. Gerstenberger “I’m trying to adjust my habits. Small businesses are getting hurt because I’m just spending 40 hours a week just trying to learn these (Small Business Administration) loans, these paycheck programs, fund opportunities. I’m in an education phase for half my time, and then the other time is just like scramble.”
But despite the uncertainty, there’s one thing that keeps them going: supporting the community that has given them so much.
“The community for me and us has been the most important thing in our lives, said Mr. Gerstenberger.
“What I love about Santa Barbara and the business that I have is that my network of people professionally blends into the personal side. I know PTA moms from middle schools that I would never meet outside of my business, and I know nonprofits and events and art funds and small businesses that have come and succeeded and failed. It’s just a really diverse space.”
IVSP has supported Santa Barbara in times of crisis in the past, and once again they’ve launched campaigns to provide much needed relief to small businesses in the 805 area when they need it the most.
Realizing they had an opportunity to connect those looking to help with businesses that need it, IVSP launched two campaigns: the Stronger as a Community Tee and the Here For Good 805 Collection.
Five dollars from each sale of the Stronger as a Community Tee will go to the The Santa Barbara Foundation and the United Way of Santa Barbara County’s “COVID-19 Response Effort for Santa Barbara County,” a joint fund created to address the needs of individuals and families in the county as well as the nonprofits who serve them.
The Here For Good 805 Collection serves as an opportunity for small businesses to sell a custom T-shirt on the Island View Outfitters site, part of the IVSP brand, with $10 from each sale going to the business.
With no risk and no upfront money at all, businesses can sign up, send IVSP a logo and choose a color T-shirt, which Mr. Gerstenberger and Mr. Cardoso will sell on their website. The two will send the business a link, which they can post on their website to spread the word.
“The goal is that everyone’s kind of promoting this collection of small businesses in the 805. You’ve got one coffee shop that sends the link out and all their supporters go on and they can see all the businesses in Santa Barbara and the 805 area that’s up there. The intent is that the community can continue to develop,” said Mr. Gerstenberger.
So far, 25 businesses have signed on, including Kyle’s Kitchen, The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County and Hook & Press Doughnuts and Coffee.
“I’d love to have over 100,” said Mr. Gerstenberger. “I really think that’s possible just as the week goes on and next week and people continue to contribute. We’ve been having some really good sales. I think we’ve sold maybe 50 or 80 shirts in the last couple days of just the new businesses that have hopped on.”
Usually the custom T-shirt business requires minimum orders and set up charges as a standard process, but Mr. Gerstenberger said that even if a business sells one shirt, they’ll eat the cost, print it, and give them the $10.
To handle the workload, the shirts are sold as a pre-sale, with orders taken until California’s stay-at-home order has been lifted. At deadline, all orders for each design will be compiled, printed and fulfilled; and IVSP asks that you allow roughly 10 business days after the presale deadline for orders to be shipped to supporting customers.
Starting two campaigns is a lot to take on for a team of two, but Mr. Gerstenberger said it almost wasn’t a conscious decision. Doing something different hasn’t crossed their minds.
“It’s just as much a part of our business to be part of the community and find new ways to do it that could benefit us and everybody,” said Mr. Gerstenberger.
“We put a lot of emotion into our work on a daily basis, this is just the next extension of it. It’s not much different.”
Mr. Gerstenberger doesn’t know if he’ll have a business in three months, but the one thing that makes him happy and gives him the energy to keep going is the hope that the Santa Barbara community will take on this project and he’ll be overwhelmed by people who love the idea.
“I would love to be swamped and overwhelmed with inquiries from Ventura to San Luis Obispo to Santa Barabra and Santa Ynez,” said Mr. Gerstenberger.
“I want to feel that community unification that I feel like we’re really missing right now, and all of us really want it and the only time we can get it at the moment is like small Facebook groups and social media. I just want that to exponentially grow.”
Supporters can find the Stronger as a Community Tee and the rest of the Here For Good 805 Collection at https://islandviewoutfitters.com/collections/here-for-good-805.
Businesses interested in partnering with IVSP can sign up at https://islandviewoutfitters.com/pages/hereforgood.