How an L.A. indie bookstore’s GoFundMe inspired a small business lifeline
by Dorany Pineda at the Los Angeles Times
"On a Tuesday morning in September, Raymond Wurwand was in his Southern California home sipping tea and reading the newspaper when he happened upon a story about struggling independent bookstores. The print headline read: “Spine-tingling bookstore woes: Some shops, including Diesel, are turning to fundraising to survive. Shelve 2020 as horror.”
He turned to his wife, Jane Wurwand, and said: “We’ve got to do something.”
In partnership with Pacific Community Ventures and TMC Community Capital, the owners of skin-care company Dermalogica decided to launch Found/L.A. Small Business Recovery Fund, a $1-million grant program to help small minority-owned businesses in Los Angeles County stay open during the pandemic. Among the eligibility requirements: Applicants must own at least 50% of a brick-and-mortar shop, employ fewer than 20 people, and provide evidence of profitability before the pandemic. The Wurwands received 2,430 applications for the first round of grants — from restaurants, salons and cafes as well as gyms, retail stores and day-care centers. Ten were randomly selected. Applications for the second cycle open Jan. 11.
“We built Dermalogica through selling to small salons, so we built our business through selling to small entrepreneurs who have been devastated by COVID-19,” said Jane in a recent Zoom interview. “So as we read the piece, we realized that could’ve been our story, but we’ve been extremely fortunate. Our salons were exactly like Diesel,” she said. Diesel, a Bookstore, with locations in Del Mar and Brentwood, is one of many businesses that have made public pleas for support. “That’s who employs the neighborhood.”
The longtime philanthropists typically offer minority businesses micro-loans through their Wurwand Foundation, but Diesel’s pandemic struggle put into sharp focus the need for direct, no-strings assistance — some small businesses just can’t on any more debt.