Monica Wang is named numerous issues all through our workplace: a good friend, a photographer, a former director of finance, a drive to be reckoned with—the listing goes on and on and on.
You might already know Monica from her unbelievable (and surprising) profession journey. The final time we spoke together with her, she was each the Director of Finance at Saucey and the proprietor of Monica Wang Images. She single-handedly proved that the notion that you need to select a profession in both a science-minded area or a artistic one was null; she confirmed which you could have a hand at each—and excel at each too.
Since then, she determined to strive her hand at one more profession journey: opening up her personal occasion venue/photograph studio hybrid in Los Angeles, The Revery. What began as an thought turned a 14,000-foot actuality; an area that would maintain something from occasions to weddings to TV manufacturing. However as we all know, life doesn’t all the time go as deliberate.
When Monica and I first scheduled a time to speak again in April, we had been going to debate how she financed her enterprise and in regards to the recommendation she had for others—however then COVID-19 hit. As with many issues, COVID-19 affected the opening of The Revery and the plans that Monica had for its debut.
The opening and planning of The Revery took extra time than Monica had initially anticipated. The concept for it sparked years in the past, and the situation that it was constructed on was discovered again round October 2017. Alongside the way in which, there have been a number of pace bumps—some anticipated, some not, even earlier than COVID-19 took maintain of any plans.
“It was more durable than I anticipated,” Monica stated. “Even the mortgage software was actually intense, particularly for a enterprise.”
The mortgage that she had beforehand been permitted for ended up getting dropped on account of COVID-19, one thing she clearly hadn’t anticipated.
As soon as Monica discovered the appropriate location for her enterprise, getting her thought off the bottom took a village—and a rigorously curated one at that. However as we’re all painfully conscious, the consequences of COVID-19 have lasted longer than we initially hoped—which is much more clear (and terrifying) to the proprietor of a brand new enterprise.
“Once I first went by way of the preliminary shock of COVID, I needed to be hopeful that the consequences would solely final a few months, however because the weeks handed by, my instinct informed me in any other case,” Monica stated. “I couldn’t make monetary plans for my enterprise based mostly on hope alone. I wanted an actionable method to make up for the earnings that we had been lacking out on as our ongoing bills continued to construct up.”
Like so many who opened new companies in 2020, Monica had a brand new, distinctive thought she knew would fill a void in her business. The imaginative and prescient was in contrast to the rest she knew of in LA: a venue that could possibly be used as a photograph studio from Monday to Friday and a marriage venue on the weekends.
“I assumed, ‘nothing else exists like this in LA, so I’ve to construct it,’” Monica stated. “A variety of the venues in LA are auto mechanic retailers or church buildings. I used to be constructing one thing from scratch, and it didn’t exist earlier than. The truth that I’ve a industrial kitchen inside our studio area is outstanding as a result of we needed to undergo the well being and security division and all these guidelines and laws. Different areas are often transformed and don’t have all of the facilities you need—it’s all the time lacking one thing main.”
The individuality of the area opens the doorways to a greater variety of occasions being held there—one in all which was imagined to be the filming of The Bachelorette earlier than it received postponed. However due to the consequences of COVID-19 on the marriage business (and occasion business as an entire), Monica used her instinct to pivot The Revery’s focus as a venue location to at least one that supplied secure, in-house images.
“I had weddings cancel on me and I needed to make full refunds,” Monica stated. “Our income was inconsistent at greatest, and the mounted month-to-month bills simply piled on prime of each other.”
“In April, I shortly pivoted our enterprise and began to supply in-house product images as a method to safely meet the content material wants of manufacturers that needed to transfer away from conventional photoshoots. With my background in images, it was a pure transition and a service I knew corporations nonetheless wanted throughout a pandemic,” Monica stated. “To realize traction, I personally reached out to companies by way of Instagram and e mail to see in the event that they wanted any product images. Slowly however absolutely, the bookings began to trickle in, and we had been capable of get by way of the primary couple months of the pandemic.”
“I needed a enterprise that fostered a group, and one of many qualities I loved from doing images was assembly folks I wouldn’t have essentially met. To me, this was a chance of a lifetime.”
Whereas Monica pivoted her enterprise to regulate to their surprising first yr, it nonetheless was harder than she ever may have imagined.
“It felt like a very dangerous nightmare however I used to be dwelling in it,” Monica stated. “There actually isn’t any sugarcoating it. This previous yr was brutal.”
Clearly, The Revery’s first yr wasn’t what was anticipated when the undertaking started. However given its present state and a few of the traction they’ve gotten, Monica nonetheless feels optimistic.
“If we made it this far and have been capable of maintain our enterprise in opposition to all odds, I’m actually longing for the long run!” she stated. “We’re hanging in even in the course of the hardest of instances, and there isn’t a second that goes by that I’m not grateful for that. I really feel extremely lucky to maintain our doorways open when different related companies could also be completely closing.”
Monica’s background in finance was clearly important in getting the undertaking began—in addition to in its completion and survival in the course of the pandemic. Whereas many small companies try to determine learn how to survive, and others are contemplating starting one in all their very own on account of lay-offs and furloughs, Monica had recommendation for monetary survival in the course of the pandemic:
“Earlier than beginning images and opening The Revery, I labored in finance, so I must give some sensible recommendation: construct a enterprise the place you possibly can focus promoting your items or service on-line, put money into social media (phrase of mouth is one of the best advertising and marketing), determine precisely what it is advisable to make your small business perform and generate a revenue and trim the remaining, and lastly, don’t quit,” Monica stated. “As difficult as this time has been, it’s also the proper alternative to pivot and check out one thing new that you’ve got all the time needed to do!”
The final time we spoke to Monica, she stated that the recommendation would have given her 23-year-old self could be to belief her instinct extra. Three years, a pandemic, and a enterprise later, she’d inform her youthful self one thing somewhat completely different.
“I suppose for me, it’s arduous. I truthfully wouldn’t change something as a result of I believe numerous instances, I felt stress to show myself to do extra, and I might simply inform myself to sit back out.”