While many small businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic, some have actually been created despite the challenges.
After COVID-19 created a new demand for face masks in America, entrepreneurs wanted to help people breathe a little easier with scented masks.
A doctor in Philadelphia created ScentClip, an aromatherapy clip that can be attached to any mask.
“I was an anesthesiologist by training and that's where the idea first came from and we spent, as you know, hours in the operating rooms just taking care of the patients. Wearing a mask from the beginning of the day to the end of the day,” said Mark-Alan Pizzini, the CEO of Aroxel which makes Scentclip.
Dr. Pizzini said he came up with the idea years ago, but the pandemic pushed him to start selling it. Now, they fulfill about 200 orders a week.
“People started wearing masks, like, wow. Now we really have to get this out,” said Dr. Pizzini.
Dr. Pizzini runs the company with the help of his daughters -- who have business backgrounds -- and his wife, who also works in the medical field.
“I've always loved aromatherapy, I have candles all over my house. So, when Mark came home with this idea and he said, ‘What do you think about this?’ and I think I said, I think people would love it,” said Deborah Sesok-Pizzini, a partner of Aroxel.
It’s one of a few growing scented mask start-ups in the U.S.
“This is my first business item. I thought of the scent mask patch. I found out a lot of people were uncomfortable, including myself, of the stink from face masks,” said Bumjun Kim, CEO of SLEEKS.
Kim, who is based in Seattle, sells his scented mask patches on Etsy.
“All of the patches are handmade. The patches are also designed with a smiley face to encourage people to stay strong through this pandemic,” said Kim.
In Brooklyn, New York, Eddie Betesh came up with long-lasting scented formulas to spray onto masks.
“Right now, we're selling over 1800 masks a week. Sales have been increasing on a daily basis about 12 to 13%,” said Betesh.
The innovation is not surprising to longtime small business experts.
Michael Kane, the deputy district director of the Small Business Administration’s Eastern Pennsylvania District, said, “Entrepreneurs, small business owners… they're incredibly innovative, they're incredibly adaptable and flexible,” said Kane.
The uptick in new businesses, Kane said, is part of trend.
“You know, we're seeing new businesses start, even in light of the challenges with COVID-19.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, new business applications were up 24% in 2020 compared to the year before.
“For people out there that want to keep your daughters close to them - this is a great way. Start a business with them. They'll call you, they will keep in touch with you,” said Dr. Pizzini.
Some are hopeful small businesses hiring new employees could be the push needed to fuel the economy, as more than 10 million Americans remain unemployed, according to the Labor Department.