When COVID-19 hit in March 2020 owner, founder, Taylar Colyar of the New York based Pop-UP, Sip Shop Eat (SSE), could not have imagined how the pandemic would catastrophically damage her business. After spending over 3 years building Sip Shop Eat into a destination pop up for brands and guests, she had no idea that the Pandemic nearly decimate her event based business.
It was mid-March and the first 2020 Pop-up Market event was scheduled for April 15th.
The vendor line-up was complete. Event tickets were selling and she was feeling accomplished to have expanded the brand from one city (New York) to three (New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco). Then, on Friday, March 13, 2020 the United States White House issued a National Emergency ordering the country to shelter in place for 2 weeks. Immediately following, the San Francisco Mayor banned events and gatherings of 100 people or more through April 30th. It would be the first time ever, in Sip Shop Eat's business history, that they’d have to postpone an event.
Even in the midst of this news Taylar had no idea exactly how much the brand would be affected. In the weeks to follow, Sip Shop Eat would experience a 100% decline in revenue. Despite attempts to apply for federal aid, grants and loans Sip Shop Eat did not receive one cent of COVID-19 financial relief.
Panic mode began to set in as Taylar started to imagine the end of her brand. She paused operations for a few weeks until a bright idea sparked by an external email pitch to host a virtual event, led to Taylar’s idea to take SSE virtual. Taylar quickly went to work, building a new platform embodying the spirit of the Sip Shop Eat’s IRL, Pop-Ups which cultivates entrepreneurship, fostering the discovery and support of small businesses. SSE Virtual would be a way for people who enjoy shopping small to do just that no matter where they are in the World.
In May of 2020, Sip Shop Eat launched two new components of their brand: SSE Virtual Pop-UP and SSE Social. The Virtual Pop-UP features small businesses from all around the World who make, design or curate their collections. The Pop-Up offers: Jewelry, Accessories, Clothing & Shoes, Home Decor, Art & Stationery, plus Babies and Kids and Food. Each brand is featured up to 90 days in the virtual Pop-Up.
Brand listings include product photos, where the brand is based, details on the founders background such as Female-led, BIPOC, etc. Each Pop-UP links directly to the brand’s online store and social media platforms allowing customers to discover and find new business and engage in socially conscious shopping directly with the vendors in the market.
Brands are featured on Sip Shop Eat’s social media pages allowing even more amplification for the small businesses featured on the platform. Entrepreneurs featured on Sip Shop Eat’s virtual Pop-UP platform have experienced increases in web traffic, social media engagement and store sales. It’s proven to be the safest way for Sip Shop Eat to stay afloat.
The SSE virtual Pop-UP allows people who love discovering new small businesses to do that in safe, socially distant manner. All while providing an alternative for small businesses to set up shop in the absence of trade shows, markets and events that so many small businesses rely on to generate income.
2020 has proven to be the hardest year in business for Taylar Colyar as an entrepreneur and SSE as a brand. Truthfully, even with the development of SSE’s new offerings, the struggle to stay open is still real. Their hope is to continue to be a refuge for small businesses which is why they’ve launched their GoFundMe to keep the business open and keep fostering the discovery of new businesses and successful entrepreneurs.