In an uncertain time, in an uncertain place one small business owner has made the difficult choice to close shop and evolve in preparation for a post COVID-19 world.
Maria Molino, owner of The Haute Maven Boutique in Red Bank, NJ always dreamed of owning her own clothing store. Fueled by a family of women connected to the world of fashion, Maria worked to see her dreams realized, and achieved them in October of 2017.
After running the successful boutique right up until quarantines blanketed the US and beyond, Maria took stock of her dreams and what she feels the post COVID world will have to offer. With giant retailers such as Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and JCrew filing for Chapter 11, she felt it was time to evolve and say goodbye to traditional retail.
Well versed in social media, after using it to promote, not only THM Boutique, but also several of her fellow Red Bank businesses, Maria started THM Social, a social media company devoted to marketing and promoting small businesses like the ones she worked for and later owned. With her sights now set beyond her boutique, Maria intends to use her expertise to help other businesses, while she waits out the assault retail takes from this pandemic.
"I didn't feel comfortable asking people who had lost their jobs, who were losing loved ones to buy clothes when they had no where to go," she commented. When asked if she thought retail could survive she responded, "I think it will, but the world of retail as we have known it, is over. It was nearing the end of an era before this outbreak, with the introduction of mega online retailers such as Amazon it was floundering. Women's fashion, fashion in general, hasn't been the same since."
With that in mind, Maria intends to use this time to study the trends, learn the new ways of retail and eventually launch THM Clothing Line into the realm of online retailing. With her keen mind for online marketing, she thinks it will be a win, win situation.
"We can't ignore what's happening. Retail as we know it will continue to take a hit even after quarantines end, especially in the North East. Therefore, going online is really the only way to stay alive as a small business. So that's what I intend to do."