Andrew and Rachel Vo, owners of Interior Painting of Asheville, started their business during the pandemic. They had just moved in together when COVID hit and both of their jobs – and incomes – dried up. Looking to make ends meet, they took a job to repaint a large, recently purchased home… one job became two, then more and soon they found themselves founding and launching their own business. And they haven’t looked back since.
Andrew and Rachel are millions of microbusinesses (ten employees or less) started during the first year of the pandemic (2020).
1. Andrew and Rachel Vo’s interior design journey began as a side-gig for supplemental income during the COVID-19 pandemic. Can you share a little more about the start of your journey? (Answer from Andrew & Rachel)
“Our journey with interior design started at the crossroads of Real Estate (Andrew) and Fung Shui (Rachel). Our combined life experiences brought us to the moment of starting the painting business together, and with a mutual understanding of how a change of color can really enhance or elevate the feel of any given space, we began consulting our clients accordingly.
“When it comes to interior design, Rachel takes the lead, and when it comes to proper execution of painting techniques, Andrew really shines. Rachel's background in wellness & yoga specifically gives her a great insight into curating spaces and how to incorporate furniture, art work, live plants, accent rugs, pillows, etc. With Andrew's real estate experience, he knows which popular colors are trending, and how to match them to the specific flooring, countertops & finishes of a given space. This really comes in handy when there is a new listing to stage, or a painting customer that isn't quite sure about what color to go with for that special room in the house.
“We started exercising this muscle with our first painting client by helping her pick a bold green called ‘Plankton’ SW1244 for her sunroom, which had large picture windows, and with the home situated high in the trees, this color really brought the outside in, giving her the feel of nature that she moved to the mountains for! Several real estate clients, since have requested our help with staging, and we've found that homes that are staged sell 3X as fast as those that are not, which is another great value add for our clients.”
2. Andrew and Rachel’s business was featured in “Where We Stand”, a campaign by GoDaddy’s Venture Forward Research Innovative. Can you please tell us more about this campaign? (Answer from Jeremy Hartman, Vice President, Venture Forward at GoDaddy)
“Yes, so first off, Venture Forward is GoDaddy’s multi-year research initiative focused on entrepreneurs and their impact on the economy and the unique insights into their backgrounds, needs, and challenges. Through our research, we found that 2.8 million more microbusinesses were created in 2020 vs 2019. As we neared the two-year mark since the pandemic began, we wanted to celebrate those entrepreneurs who either started a business or had to pivot during one of the toughest times we’ve faced in our economy. This is Where We Stand shares the stories of some amazing business owners and helps to empower the everyday entrepreneur. You can learn more about the campaign on our website: https://www.godaddy.com/ventureforward/about/where-we-stand/”
3. In your own words, why has there been a rise of microbusinesses since the pandemic and how has this affected the economy, locally and nationally? (Answer from Jeremy Hartman, Vice President, Venture Forward at GoDaddy)
“There are several reasons that can explain the rise in microbusinesses since the pandemic began. In the early months of the pandemic, many people lost their jobs and were forced to find new income streams. In addition, with pandemic relief checks, people had additional capital to start new ventures and in our digital age, it’s easier than ever for people to start a business online, without the barriers of high amounts of capital needed, traditional education prerequisites, or any racial or gender biases. Another factor is the ability to work from anywhere. With recent studies showcasing a great migration away from cities, people want the ability to not have to go into an office, starting a microbusiness allows them to do that.
“As for how microbusinesses affect their economies, our data shows that by adding microbusinesses to communities, median household incomes increase, and unemployment goes down, not to mention at least two wage jobs are created for each of these entrepreneurs.”
4. What can local policymakers do to support micro-businesses like Interior Painting of Asheville? (Answer from Jeremy Hartman, Vice President, Venture Forward at GoDaddy)
“Microbusinesses are often overlooked by local policy makers, because they are too small (less than 10 employees typically) or too new (and without an EIN) and one-third don’t have brick and mortar stores. When we work with policymakers, we always suggest they make it as easy as possible to obtain the support and resources microbusinesses need. Over our years of research, we’ve found that the top three things’ entrepreneurs need are: easier access to capital (over half need less than $5K to get started), help with marketing and skills training, and technical assistance (like getting their business set-up online). By putting the right policies in place, they can make an environment for microbusinesses to thrive.”
5. Do Andrew and Rachel have any advice for folks wanting to start their own businesses? (Answer from Andrew & Rachel)
“Wake up early, and meditate. Before the chaos of the day tries to whisk you away or throw you off course, take time for yourself to be still and reflect on everything that you are grateful for. With so many things in life and business that are out of your control, your morning can be a sacred time to set your intention for the day.
“Focus on the basics: Keep your appointments, call people back, show up when you say that you are going to, and have integrity with your word. Don't over promise and keep things simple in the beginning. When you do the right thing, everyone knows it, and as you practice, you will recognize it in your business (in real time) within others who are supporting your vision, and when you find the right people who already embody this trait, treat them right...forever!
“Don't be afraid to be off-balance or sacrifice in the short term, just respect yourself for doing so, and be prepared to ‘pay yourself back’ when downtime comes. Many entrepreneurs can be swept up in the ‘Hustle Culture’ and can become addicted to the stress. Just recognize it for what it is and know that there will be an ebb and flow as the business grows. Stay in the present moment, as best you can, and stay curious & open about how things are unfolding around you. The universe always has your back, your only job is to enjoy the process, turn the challenges into lessons, be grateful for what you already have, and do your best to stay aware and open to all of the future blessings yet to come.”