With So Many Small Businesses Struggling To Stay Open Right Now, Imagine Starting One

Listen Now
4min 26sec
Dan Boyce/CPR News
Colorado Springs native Rebecca Moon originally planned to open her downtown boutique, Moonbeam Clothiers, on March 20th. The pandemic shutdown forced her to postpone until May 29th.

Colorado Springs resident Terri Moon likes to tell a story about when her daughter, Rebecca, was about six-years-old. The little girl would set up a little store in the family’s basement and sell whatever she found around the house that she thought her parents might buy.

“We just really knew from a pretty young age that Rebecca was a real entrepreneur. She had that entrepreneur spirit,” Terri said at the opening night party for Moon’s new Colorado Springs boutique, Moonbeam Clothiers.

Now 26-years-old, Moon has launched her first grown-up business in the middle of a global pandemic and resulting economic downturn. On top of that, her focus is high-end fashion, not exactly the most recession-proof industry. 

Located in a narrow storefront in Colorado Springs’ downtown, Moonbeam Clothiers offers a carefully curated selection of ethically-sourced garments. Denim menswear items with tags made out of ‘hunted leather,’ produced by a Native American-owned company, hang next to pieces made from recycled ocean trash and leggings composed of plastic from soda bottles. 

Dan Boyce/CPR News
Rebecca Moon interacts with patrons during the grand opening of Moonbeam Clothiers on May 29th, 2020.

Moon also has pieces of her own on sale. Fashion design is her real passion, something she knew she wanted to pursue when she enrolled in International Business at the University of Denver.

The risky timing of her endeavor isn’t lost on Rebecca. In fact, she says she’s a 7 out of 10 on the ‘scared scale’ about it all. The timing almost couldn’t have been worse; after years of planning and saving, she signed a lease on her downtown space in mid-February and originally planned to open on March 20. 

“(On) March 15, I was sitting in my garage with my boyfriend building these shelves,” she said, indicating the shelving on the walls of her narrow store, “watching all the news roll in, and they closed down all the restaurants, and I was just like ‘OK, this is not gonna happen.’”

That same day, March 15, she was laid off from her bartending job. Between mid-March and mid-May, she had no income and a new lease to pay. She’s now left with a small financial cushion for her boutique clothing store to survive a rocky start.

“Honestly, things like credit cards and loan payments being frozen for a little bit right now are really helpful, because if I was paying everything in cash upfront I’d be in a really tight spot I think,” she said.

She’s not alone; the pandemic has decimated the state’s economy and driven unemployment to historic heights — 11.3 percent in April.

By late May Colorado businesses had received more than 97,000 federal Paycheck Protection Program loans, totaling over $10 billion, according to the Small Business Administration.

Still, Moon has not given up. On the last Friday in May, she held her grand opening, two months later than expected.

Dan Boyce/CPR News
Rebecca Moon is limiting customers to 10 at a time in the shop to maintain proper social distancing.

Dozens of customers attended, entering the shop 10 at a time to allow for proper social distancing. Moon drank from a glass of pink champagne, her red lipstick matching her chic red blouse. Her friend Joey Osgard looked over from her post supervising the sales counter and noted Rebecca seemed wound up as she interacted with the patrons.

“Yeah, definitely,” Osgard said. “You can tell by her body language and her posture and the way that she’s moving around that she’s still nervous.”

And who wouldn’t be nervous on a night like that, even in the best of times? 

Regardless, the grand opening was a success for the Colorado Springs native; she made enough on sales to her wide network of family and friends to pay her store’s lease for the month. Now she just has to worry about the next one.

Dan Boyce/CPR News
Moon sews a cloth face mask, part of an order from a local restaurant.

And so the real test begins for Moonbeam Clothiers. Asked about business in the week and a half after the opening, she said it’s been slow. However, she is keeping busy. 

At a sewing table set up behind the sales counter, she’s been working away, filling an order for 300 cloth face masks for local restaurants.