"Post COVID-19, the plan in place is to work with clients"
Asian Businesses based in the UK belonging to the South Asian community are a major contributor to the overall economy. With the outbreak of COVID-19, the landscape of business like for many has completely changed and the impact has become a major challenge.
With many Asian businesses relying on activities within the South Asian community such as weddings, events and even legal advice, there is no doubt that the spread of the coronavirus in the UK has severely affected their customer base.
With the UK government’s guidelines of telling people to stay at home and save lives, the need for the services of Asian businesses who rely on customers for events, for example, is definitely going to dwindle.
In normal circumstances, Asian wedding planners, make-up artists and events planners would be preparing themselves and getting ready for a roster of bookings for the year ahead but this year like on other is going to force them to re-think their business.
Those businesses who rely on meeting their clients to provide assistance and advice are also going to feel the impact hugely.
While the UK government has announced funding and grants to help businesses throughout this difficult period, how this will help Asian businesses to survive is yet to be measured because many will be small businesses who operate for a niche market.
To find out how some Asian businesses in the UK are impacted by COVID-19, DESIblitz exclusively spoke to them to find out.
Zinc Occasions Asian Wedding Specialists
Ibrar Zinc is the owner of an Asian wedding planners and caterers company, called Zinc Occasions Asian Wedding Specialists in Manchester.
Speaking about the impact of COVID-19 on his business, he said:
“Our business has gone on total temporary lockdown as no one is getting married.
“Currently we are surviving on savings. Hopefully, we’ll receive the government grant which will help us weather this difficult period.
“This year will probably be the most difficult we have ever faced.”
With regards to staying at home, he said:
“It’s allowed me to spend a lot of time with my children for which I am grateful. I think there’s a blessing in everything and the blessing in this is its brought families closer together.”
When asked if the business can survive and how, he said:
“Yes, if we’re very careful and are honest and fair with our customers.
“To continue the existing business but also to look at secondary revenue streams where we can diversify the business so its adaptable should events like these occur again.”
Asiana Bridal & Training Academy
Sukhi Kaur Sanghera runs the business called Asiana Bridal & Training Academy, based in Birmingham.
They are a makeup training business that teaches students different professional makeup techniques. It is taught by Sukhi herself, who is one of the best makeup Asian artists in the UK.
Revealing how COVID-19 has affected her business, Sukhi told us:
“COVID-19 has affected all parts of our business as we supply makeups artists to different locations around the UK for different events.
“Since we have close proximity to our consumers COVID-19 has affected that since we need to be extra cautious. Which as a professional business with years of experience we are.
“Although COVID-19 has affected our business financially, we are still a strong well-known company that is capable of expanding and gaining more consumers throughout this epidemic.”
Talking about staying at home, Sukhi said:
“COVID-19 has affected our family personally but as we always think positive in the Sanghera household, it has brought us more closer to each other and made our family stronger.”
About how her business will survive the pandemic, she said:
“Our business will 100% survive the lockdown as we’re one of the most recognisable Asian businesses in the UK.
“We plan to expand our business overseas teaching thousands of students around the world as we currently are at the moment, our future is bright.”
Ravinder Singh Sagoo runs an entertainment business called Delsonic based in Leeds. The company’s services are targeted at events like Asian weddings, birthday parties and other social functions.
They supply entertainment and services for their customers ranging from DJs, props and decor.
Revealing the impact of COVID-19 on his business he said:
“The whole events industry has come to a standstill and was about the first industry to be affected by this pandemic.”
“Financially we are in a fairly strong position and have no outstanding debts so we seem to be in a fairly stable position and with regards staff we only use freelancers so it does not have a direct impact on our cash flow.
Regarding staying at home, he said:
“Family wise again we a strong together.
“Kids are living the time away from school but they do the online work set by the schools and my wife is a key worker so we know she is doing her best to keep people healthy and safe.
Regarding survival of the business and how they could do it, he said:
“We are hoping that the business survives but I am also fearful that some of them will go to the wall.
“We have been looking at other avenues of entertainment.. with the likes of radio shows and live FB broadcasts.
“Future plans are very difficult to plan as in this case we have been hit with something even Hollywood or Bollywood could not have dreamed about so this kind of planning needs to be thought about very seriously but if we are hit with something new we can only deal with that situation as it arises.
“But the biggest thing is having communication from credible and reliable sources .. many social media platforms are awash with negative and fake news and conspiracy theories and these do not help.”
Obiter Legal Solicitors
Kuldip Singh Lall is a solicitor and managing director at Obiter Legal Solicitors who provide a range of services to help the Asian community and beyond in Birmingham.
During the COVID-19 outbreak the firm has taken its social responsibility very seriously and has closed its offices. However, they have still remained open for contact via telephone, mobile or email.
They are still dealing with matters via their Case Management system as well as they can during these challenging times.
Kuldip says the virus has affected his legal business ‘drastically’ it is ‘financially very difficult’ to manage.
He says: “Work is our life-line as me and my work with one another”.
The company is considering options and questioned if they will survive this difficult period, he says:
“I hope it will as we will support it as we always have. The main issue is the regulator.
“To ensure we are better placed to deal with such issues and to let go of staff whom we have seen not being above board in this difficult time.”
House of iKons
Savita Kaye the CEO of Lady K Enterprises – House of iKons is a highly established fashion event organiser.
Her fashion events take place in the UK and abroad including countries like Dubai. Her event House of iKons Fashion Week London takes place during the prestigious calendar event London Fashion Week.
The independent show has been growing and gaining momentum since its launch in September 2014 launched in London as well as shows around the world. Designers from this launchpad have dressed the like likes of Michelle Obama, Paris Hilton, Beyonce, Jlo and the list goes on.
House of iKons always likes to bring issues to the forefront via fashion, which includes domestic violence, abuse of young children in domestic violence environments and endometriosis.
The event pushes diversity with models from different ethnic backgrounds, size, shape, height and age. Highlighting fashion is for everyone.
When asked about the impact of COVID-19 on her business, Savita said:
“We are still planning for our second fashion week show in September 2020.
“But still unsure if events such as fashion shows which are a large public gathering are allowed even if the virus is contained. It’s a waiting game at present.
“All video and editorial shoots have been postponed till further notice.
“Like the rest of the country, belts have been tightened and again it is a waiting game.”
Regarding staying at home and impact on family, she said:
“With elderly family members not being able to go out it’s hard on them and heartbreaking for me personally. To see them from active to feeling vulnerable on lockdown I feel helpless.
“With children, it’s trying to keep them entertained and to keep up with their studies is a task within itself.
“For me personally, I’m trying to stay strong for them.”
“I’m not ashamed to admit I have had my moments sitting in the garden alone in tears worried about my family, worried about making sure I protect myself just to go to the supermarket so I don’t catch or carry the virus and bring it home to my loved ones.
“Driving to the supermarket which would be a normal and simple task is like going into a war zone at times.”
About how her business is aiming to survive the pandemic, she said:
“At present we are trying to support all our clients at no cost trying to promote them through our channels, speaking with them not to give up and to remain motivated and creative.
“We have also extended to other creatives who may not be our clients but happy to promote and push where we can at no cost. It’s important to support one another for the sake of humanity.
“We have also asked our iKonic Child models to create artwork of love light and hope and to thank the courageous NHS. The response has been overwhelming … and I know the children are happy and excited to see their artwork published from the response of their parents.
“Some of our designers which we are supporting are creating face masks at no cost for the NHS frontline support, such as the designer brand Be Unique Be You.”
As for future planning, Savita says:
“We are strategising at present. Discussions are in place with our team and our amazing clients and we are working together on how we can all help and support each other.
“These are trying times but I’m confident that each and every person regardless of industry background will come back stronger.”
Feroza Nathu is the owner and founder of Feroza’s Artistry a business based in Peterborough which provides hair and makeup artistry services for all occasions, including bridal photoshoots.
Running the business for over 5 years, Feroza has also won the Best Makeup Artist award at the Asian Beauty Industry Awards.
Regarding the impact of COVID-19 on her business, Feroza said:
“This pandemic has brought my business to a standstill. With uncertainty looming in the beginning to cancellations and uncertainty for future bookings.
“I have had to change my policy for bookings to reassure clients that they will get their refund and/or change the dates without being penalised.
“It’s been a rollercoaster but as a business owner, I had to think fast and have a contingency in place as soon as revelations of how serious this virus actually was coming through via the news.
“Financially I am doing fine. As a business, I have always saved for a rainy day. And these sort of situations do not arise every day.
“So just budgeting and monitoring is currently the situation. Also, the government has provided support so that also is something to take positively.”
Speaking of staying at home, she said:
“As a family unit, we have taken each day slowly keeping on top fo the news and planning ahead so we can limit the amount of times we go out.
“Carrying different activities and just catching up with other things which have been pending for a while.
“Personally, yes it is frustrating that everything has come to a standstill.
But on a lighter note, I have been constantly practising my hair and make-up skills by doing Facebook lives and increasing my online presence.
When asked if her business can survive the pandemic and how, she replied:
“Yes, I think it will. Weddings will begin as soon as it’s safe too and my business will kick start simultaneously. I am already in talks with some photographers for photoshoots once this pandemic comes to an end!
“Post COVID-19, the plan in place is to work with clients.
“The financial damage has been significant for many people so meeting people’s budget and helping each other is one of my main aims.
“Also, I will continue doing lives and teaching people tips and tricks about makeup and hairstyle as you can never stop learning!”
Maz Deen is the director and stylist of the company Milner Men’s based in Birmingham, West Midlands. They sell suits for all occasions which are fitted and tailored.
Regarding the impact of COVID-19 on his tailoring business, Maz told us:
“COVID-19 has stopped all our wedding orders. As a result, we may miss out on maximising our peak summer season.
“Our premises will be closed for 3 months and counting.”
“We are financially coping fairly well under the circumstances.
“Naturally, we have had to delay some payments to our suppliers as, like any other business, we need some kind of relief during these testing times.”
Conversing about staying at home, he said:
“It has affected me as I have nothing to do, which is quite a strange feeling for someone who works all year round.
“I am at my creative best when I am working and making my clientele happy.
“The fear of uncertainty and insecurity can only intensify if this lockdown is more long term.
“Like with everyone else, my family is also concerned about the situation. Although there are positives of COVID-19 as I have been able to catch up with family life and enjoy time out.”
Regarding how his business will survive the pandemic, Maz said:
“We will survive the tough times and come back strongly in what we do best.
“Thankfully we do not have massive overheads. We are looking forward to opening again when the situation is deemed fit.
“Our business plans remain quite extensive as we look to focus even more on service and our range of collections.
“Whilst it will be a challenge but we are confident that we can continue to grow the business.
“Plus we have plans to give our showroom a new look, hopefully presenting a ‘Theatre of Dreams.'”
All of these Asian businesses have told DESIblitz about their struggles and challenges they are facing both at a business and personal level due to the Coronavirus pandemic in the UK.
The pressure on their businesses is forcing them to re-think their future and how they will try to get back to a normal which may not be the normal they were used to in the past.
Every business is no doubt going to be very challenged differently during the pandemic, however, the survival of Asian businesses of this kind is going to heavily depend on re-engaging with their niche customer base, support from suppliers, creditors, banks, and the UK government.