Building it Better Together: Reinventing yourself and your business

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Amid the coronavirus pandemic, business owners big and small are pivoting to stay relevant and stay in business.

Experts say the key to economic survival is all about reinventing yourself: finding a new way that works, right now.

From local, century-old staples to new homegrown startups, they're transforming themselves to thrive despite the chaos.

"It was devastating," says Joseph Termini.

He and his brother Vincent are the third generation running a South Philadelphia legacy.

Their initial reaction to the crisis? Temporarily close the doors to Termini Bros.

"The risk wasn't worth the reward," Joseph says.

But they stumbled on an old photograph and were reminded of the grit it took their grandfather and his brother to open the family shop 99 years ago.

"They had nothing but the shirts on their backs and their will to survive," Joseph says. "They opened during the Depression."

Steeped in tradition, the Terminis had to pivot.

"All of a sudden we have to change the way we think and the way we do things," Vincent says.

Starting next week, they're launching their own app for pickup and delivery.

"That's the way we do things," Joseph says.

Now, the workers are back, cannoli are getting hand cranked, and that pioneer spirit is alive.

"We will not fail," Joseph says. "We will do whatever it takes."

If you have that entrepreneurial fire in the belly, experts say this is prime time to turn your passion into a new career.

That includes everything from crafting, to photography, writing, baking, graphic design, you name it.

"There's not a huge step to say, maybe I can do this professionally," says Ross Kimbarovsky, a gig economy expert from Crowdspring.

"Some of the best businesses in the world have been started during times of economic downturn, recessions and depressions," Kimbarovsky says.

And that's exactly what's happening for Julie Kate Rubinstein, a single mom, aesthetician and Center City makeup artist. In a blink, all events evaporated.

"I had a freak-out moment," she says. She recalls thinking, 'I am not going to be able to survive this.'

The kind of human contact she built a career on is now off limits. So, she reinvented herself.

"I decided to, on a whim, just start this kids tutorial makeup lesson on Saturdays," Rubinstein says.

It's wildly popular and she's busier than ever.

"This was something totally new," she says. "I had to build myself a desk, a makeup studio and get lighting at home."

As Julie Kate and Crew, she also hosts online virtual birthday parties and ladies nights.

"It's different for me," she says. "I am so used to having that one-on-one, face-to-face interaction. But, somehow, I feel like I have been able to touch a lot more people virtually. This could forever change my business."
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