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'You can't help but feel grateful': Community supports single mother's business through pandemic

Kristin Hayes lost out on a PPP loan, but the local community stepped up in a big way to support this single mom's small business.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Like many single parents, Kristin Hayes has faced quite the challenge over the past year. Not only is she trying to keep her daughter healthy and on track, she's also managed to keep her business afloat through the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to a lot of help from the community. 

Hayes spent years working as a single mother to build her jewelry business. 

"My daughter's early years, it was trying to keep my name out there, and when she hit kindergarten, I was able to push harder with my business," Hayes said. "I had more time."

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Her work with metals has been featured in magazines, as well as on the cover of some publications. In recent years, her small business boomed so big she needed to rent space for a showroom. 

"It's been an interesting time," Hayes said. "I got lucky. I was leasing a space that happened to end right before the pandemic started. I actually brought my studio home with the intention of leaving my home again, but thank goodness that was a huge save for me to not have that overhead rent."

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Hayes' business has grown every other year besides 2020. She simply broke even last year, even without the added rent cost. Early on, she was approved for a PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loan but it fell through in a frustrating mishap.

"I missed that opportunity because I didn't respond quick enough to the email," Hayes said. "That was definitely a moment [that] I was a little disappointed in the process."

She says it turned out OK, though, because she got help from a different place. 

"My customers have truly stepped up to support small businesses and it makes you a little emotional. You can't help but feel grateful," Hayes said. "Jewelry is not a necessity and you had this feeling, I knew that they were buying something for themselves, to cheer themselves up, but I also knew there was a layer just to be supportive of small business."

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And while Hayes planned on 2021 being a growth year with lots of new product research and development, she's saving her money and sitting tight. 

"I'm already looking at 2022," she said. "Like, we're all going to need our bling for when we're finally out of the house!"

Like many big businesses, Hayes has realized she can get by without the extra office space by working out of her home, so that's the plan for the foreseeable future.