GOGO Impact Spotlight: Shirtz and Thangz, Inc.

Oct 5, 2020

Carmella Jones, owner of Shirtz and Thangz, Inc. and participant of the URA and Neighborhood Allies’ Get Online and Grow Online Program (GOGO Program), worked to create an online presence and operate back-end apps with the help of GOGO technical assistance.

The GOGO program is helping local small businesses build e-commerce platforms or give existing websites an upgrade to boost online sales to help them thrive in the post-COVID environment.  Each participating small business is matched with a business consultant and receives up to five hours of free technical assistance for tasks such as improving search engine optimization, developing a website or outfitting an existing site with an ordering system.

Here’s a Q&A in which Carmella Jones, owner of Shirts and Thangz, Inc. discusses the challenges and growth her business has experienced the last few months.

Can you tell us how your business got started?

I created Shirtz and Thangz in 2018 as a single mother of six with a vision to begin the process of creating generational wealth for my family by becoming self sufficient and starting a business. When I started this company I planned to provide humorous, inspirational clothing for men, women and children; but over the years I noticed that many families were looking for a shop that they could go to for the whole family. They were also looking for clothing that could be customized to their unique style. Despite some obstacles during the start-up phase, I was determined to keep going because this is not just about me. This is about the next generation witnessing and being part of their mother’s road to becoming self sufficient and learning the skills and knowledge to start a business.

What challenges did COVID-19 present for your business?

At the start of the pandemic, I began working on my business plan and started to brainstorm how to move forward given the mandated social distancing order. I was not prepared for the domino affect this pandemic would have on my family, so I began to think about what I could do to utilize my home for my business, while also preparing to homeschool my children. During this time, my business didn’t have a running website or an active Facebook page, and I was not fluent with various social media platforms.

Why were you interested in joining the Get Online and Grow Online program?

I saw that the program would help businesses owners receive the necessary tech support needed to get their business online. As for my business, I personally struggled with the technology. I didn’t know how to operate certain apps, technology software, and various social media platforms. I knew that this program would help my business to grow, especially during this ever-changing time.

How did your Technical Assistance Provider help you along the way?

My TA was a perfect fit for me. From our first virtual meeting, we hit it off. She allowed me to express my needs for my business and we began to create goals to achieve during my time in the program. She also taught me how to operate Google drive, Canva, and other useful applications. When I was struggling to balance family and business, my TA provider helped me find productive resources that would help get my business running smoothly while also raising my family. She helped me find my sparkle again.

What are some new things you learned to implement and plan to continue doing as you move forward?

During my time in the program I learned how to utilize Google drive and Google sheets for various business needs. Not knowing what these programs could do, I was very satisfied and happy that my TA had the patience to teach me what I needed to learn regarding my business needs.  I also learned about Facebook Shop, Canva, Hootsuite, and Square.

What was your biggest takeaway from the program?

My biggest takeaway is for me to get more active on social media and utilize the various tools and apps to help my business gain customers. I know that with these tools, I can be creative in how to showcase our business online.

The end results is a more confident mother who survived – a mother who is determined to show her children what it means to become self sufficient, and how we can create generational wealth despite these hard times. One must just be determined to get to the finish line.

What advice do you have for other small business owners interested in getting online?

I would recommend that they take a moment and evaluate where they are in regards to technology (what do they know?) and then asses what they need help with (personally, do they need access to a computer, do they know how to work certain apps and other technology?) so that they can utilize their time to address their business needs.

You can follow Shirtz and Thangz on Instagram and on Facebook soon!

The Get Online and Grow Online Program was created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and aims to aid businesses in implementing new, creative ways to reach their customers.

Top Header Image Photo Credit: Prototyping Larimer Stories by artist John Peña, photo by OPA