Cash Flow Solutions

Jenn & Ray Jones

Jenn & Ray Jones of Creature Studio, Kabbage customers, discussing business in a studio

“Gift certificates have been huge for a lot of industries [during the coronavirus crisis], and we wanted to get it online as quickly as we could..”

Raymond McCrea Jones

Creature Studio Finds an Easy Online Gift Certificate Option With Kabbage Payments™

The staff is like a family at Creature Studio in Atlanta, Georgia. Jenn Jones, the owner and lead stylists, opened their hair salon business with her husband Raymond McCrea Jones, a photographer and the studio’s creative director, in March 2018.

“My goal was to build the perfect space for me to work, and where others want to be,” says Jenn, an award-winning colorist. “We’ve created a culture that’s drama-free. The space is beautiful, clean and really-well lit, so Ray can take photographs at any time.”

But as the coronavirus spread, they made the difficult decision to close their shop on March 19, 2020 — five days before the mayor of Atlanta announced a 14-day stay-at-home order.

Coronavirus shuts the doors

“The week leading up to that was very sparse,” says Jenn. The studio was already being cautious and making sure there was at least one empty chair between clients. Even so, clients were canceling or pushing back appointments.

As more information came out, Jenn and Ray made the proactive decision to shut their doors before the city required. There’s no way to avoid touching people and maintain a six-foot distance while working on their hair.

While Creature Studios isn’t accepting clients, the 12 employees are out of work as well. “I don’t have the type of business where I can just pay them,” says Jenn. She pays many of the employees hourly, but over half of their take-home pay comes from customer tips rather than wages.

In the meantime, Jenn and Ray are helping make sure everything is set up with the Georgia Department of Labor so the employees can collect unemployment. And everyone is staying connected in other ways, “we’ve been getting on Facetime group calls for happy hour,” says Jenn.

Selling gift cards can bring in revenue can but be difficult to set up

With the studio’s impending closing, clients looked for ways to help by prepaying for services and buying gift cards. “We looked at getting the software hooked into the website, but it wasn’t working,” Jenn says. As a result, even the gift card sales stopped once the doors closed.

“We were immediately thinking, what can we do to generate revenue?” says Ray. “I built and maintain our website. Gift certificates have been huge for a lot of industries, and we wanted to get it online as quickly as we could.”

Ray learned about Kabbage’s new online gift certificate initiative from his brother, whose partner works at Kabbage.

“Kabbage is a young, technology-forward company,” says Ray. “I knew that it would be seamless, quick and easy, which is important. They also have great developers, and things can be fixed quickly.”

As one of the first businesses to try the service, Kabbage reached out to Creature Studio for feedback. “There were a few little things, like the logo was being resized,” says Ray. “We asked them to fix it and it was done in a matter of hours. It’s been seamless ever since.”

The Kabbage Payments™ platform makes offering gift certificates easy

With the coronavirus shutting down small businesses across the country, Kabbage went into action to find a way to help. It retooled its Kabbage Payments™ platform, which was created to help businesses send and collect invoices, to allow small businesses to sell gift certificates online.

“We registered our company, linked our bank account, added a button, wrote a blurb and there it was,” says Ray. “We immediately started to promote it through an email blast and on social media — we had $1,500 on the first day.”

Customers continue to support the business, and they’ve received new deposits into their account every day since closing.

“We’re not tech people or coders, and the whole thing was very easy,” adds Jenn. She says they’ll use the money to pay the business’s bills. But it’s about more than just the money. “It guarantees that people are going to come back,” she says, which means her employees have clients (and tips) to look forward to when Creature Studio reopens.

Business Facts

Year established: 2018

Type: Hair Salon

Location: Atlanta, GA

Employees: 12

Gift certificates sold on the first day: $1,500

Kabbage customer since: 2020

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