Michael Dalle Molle

As Louisiana is in phase 2 of reopening, we decided to talk to some local business leaders within New Orleans about how they believe quarantine has gone and what they have learned. Working through COVID has been difficult and posed a new set of challenges. We’ve all had to adapt in one way or another whether that’s in our professional lives or personal lives. It’s been particularly difficult for small businesses learning to navigate through PPP loans, trying to maintain staff and being uncertain of when businesses can fully reopen. New Orleans once again shows its resilience during this tough time and has continued to band together to begin what is hopefully a safe re-entry into normalcy.

Michael Dalle Molle is a New Orleans-based designer and entrepreneur, and is a founding partner at GoodWood. We asked him about how COVID-19 has affected his business and his employees.

What impact has COVID-19 had on your business?
COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on our business. In the first week of the lockdown, we had lost dozens of projects via cancellations or postponements – over $100,000 of business lost in less than a week. We had to act quickly, and we saw a need for locally-made PPE. After some intense conversations with local healthcare providers, we decided to make the pivot. We transformed our facility from a furniture studio into a face shield assembly line within 72 hours.

What changes has your business had to make to adapt to quarantine?
We have been working nonstop, so the only major changes other than what is being made in our facility have been outside of work. At work, we have kept things the same with the exception of new rules about sanitation, masks and gloves, social distancing, etc.

Were there any resources or advice you gave your employees to help them during this time?
Yes, we made sure our employees knew that we were there for them and that we could provide them with jobs, even though they would be different for a while. We made the decision to pivot in order to keep our business open, help our local medical community stay safe, and to make sure we could take care of our team.

What advice would you give to other business owners specifically in New Orleans about how to restart business when quarantine is over?
I would recommend that other business owners stay up to date with all of the city and state regulations for re-opening, as well as keeping an eye on the national conversation around this virus. Politics aside, this virus is a real threat to people’s health and jobs – it needs to be taken very seriously. I would also recommend that businesses do their very best to be flexible right now. We need dynamic business owners right now more than ever.

Though this is a tough time, what has inspired optimism for you and your businesses moving forward?
I have been so inspired by all of the work that other New Orleanians are doing to help fight this pandemic. All of the localized efforts to make PPE for medical workers, restaurants providing free or affordable meals to people in need, landlords granting rent forbearance to their tenants… the list goes on. New Orleans is strong and resilient, and this pandemic has only proven that to be more true now than ever before.

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