Têra Kaia Collective
Local women-owned Businesses

Learning from Local Women-Owned Businesses in the Eastern Sierra

As a local women-owned business, we wanted to understand how other women are adapting to the current climate. We asked four women, who own businesses in the Eastern Sierra, to share their experience with COVID-19. Here’s what they had to say!

1. Elizabeth McGuire, Eastside Bake Shop

Can you tell me about East Side Bake Shop?

East Side Bake Shop is a quaint bakery/cafe located in a beautiful setting, at the foot of the Sierra in McGee Creek, a small neighborhood of Crowley Lake, Ca. The cafe operates seasonally catering to the bustle of hikers, fisherman, bikers and the near by campgrounds, as well the very loyal following of locals. The bakery items are wholesome made with whole grains and unrefined sugars, baked in small batches daily using natural ingredients. Over the years the bakery has always offered live music and dinners as well. 

How have you been running your business during quarantine?

During quarantine, I have been busier than ever, trying to establish what I CAN do during these times. The wholesale part of my business, which operates year round and supplies local coffee shops, restaurants and health food stores, essentially dissolved as a result of the quarantine directives. So, I started offering direct to consumer, with weekly sourdough bread as a new option and also developed an honor bake stand in front of the shop so that people can just come by and self serve and self pay for the items I set out each day. 

What are your hopes for the future?

Hopes for the future is that we can get back to the way it was eventually. One of the things I love most about what I do, is providing that place for people to gather around good food, drink and music.. providing an experience of community and memories for this area.

How can we best support your business?

I’ve been really grateful and overjoyed at how much support I have received. The bakery stand gets cleaned out every day, my sourdough orders are almost beyond what I can manage on my own each week. I feel supported. Once businesses re-open. I believe my former accounts will continue to support me as well. It’s very uncertain when and if I can open given my unique location and need to home school my kids. So in the meantime, I am just going to continue doing what I am doing.

2. Andrea Walker, Stellar Brew

Can you tell me about Stellar Brew?

Stellar Brew strives to provide health and happiness to our community through the service of wholesome food and handcrafted drinks and smoothies. We enjoy the relationship we have with our suppliers, guests and staff knowing that it takes a lot of team work to be sure everyone’s needs are met and top notch quality is delivered with shining customer service.

How have you been running your business during quarantine?

We stayed open, people need coffee and good food.  I’m thankful that we were essential and able to continue serving our friends and family.  We moved a table to the door and we’ve been serving everyone from our front door and out the side window.  We have managed to fortify our customer relationships and I am so proud of the Stellar Staff for continuing to be a light for our guests.

What are your hopes for the future?

That is a beautiful and broad question. My heart desires happiness for everyone.  I hope the future is better than the past and I believe what lays ahead is far better than what’s been left behind.

How can we best support your business?

You can best support my business by continuing to be awesome women highlighting the good things in the world.  Looking for the helpers and sharing the beauty of the good world we live in.

3. Karen Shwartz, Sage to Summit

Can you tell me about Sage to Summit?

Sage to Summit is a bouldering gym and outdoor shop. The bouldering gym is designed for climbers to get stronger. The training component is huge at our gym and our members spend as much time in our weight room as they do in the bouldering area. The gym has evolved into a community hub for climbers. The shop is geared to getting people out into the mountains. We focus on ultralight mountain gear as well as gear dedicated towards bouldering and climbing training.

How have you been running your business during quarantine?

I have been focused on serving customers. Many customers are supporting Sage to Summit through online purchases and gift cards sales. I wrote thank you notes with a small gift to all the members that are keeping their memberships active. Many of them have paid for their membership for two months while we have been closed. The gym is more than a place to train but a community hub and I know they want to see it survive. I can’t thank them enough.

Note: The Sage to Summit retail store recently opened last Friday May 22nd with hours ranging from 10-6 pm everyday. Karen is excited to open the gym during the Phase 3 reopening plan for Inyo County.

How can we best support your business?

Gift card purchases are great. It gives people the ability to support the store even if there isn’t anything they need right now. Additionally, many customers and members have reached out with words of encouragement, which feels good. There are many people that want to see us survive. 

What are your hopes for the future?

There are so many hopes for the future! Aspirationally, I hope that the U.S votes for policy makers to enact true health care reform, this virus sheds light on the ineffectiveness of our system. Right now, there is a huge emphasis on supporting independent businesses, and I hope this continues into the future. 

4. Elisha and Maribeth, The Lift

Can you tell us about The Lift?

The Lift is a small coffee bar/ restaurant located in June Lake, CA. We renovated an old auto garage/gas station turned skateboard/snowboard shop into our dream come true feel good restaurant. The Lift offers organic coffee, espresso, and teas as well as craft beers, wine, and kombucha. We serve a variety of fresh craft foods for breakfast and dinner and we have delicious house made baked goods. Our retail section offers many fun and unique gifts often crafted by local artists.  We have occasional live music outside on our patio where we are able to bring the outside in and the inside out with a large garage roll up door. We take pride in our feel good vibes and friendly service. Our two year anniversary is coming up on May 19th!

How have you been running your business during quarantine?

We were a little blindsided as most businesses were with Covid-19. Being in a very small community that is mostly tourist-based for business, we sadly had to lay off all of our employees and close our doors. Shortly after, we reopened our business for a couple of days a week with a limited (pre- order) take out menu with only the two of us to keep things in motion. It has definitely been a challenge to operate but we love that we can still provide a service for our community and stay connected with our supportive locals and friends from a distance. 

How can we best support your business?

As we continue to adjust to a new way of operating, the best way to support us is to follow us on social media for menu options and updates. Currently, you can place a food/drink preorder for take away by texting 970-497-0609 the day prior to pick up. You choose the pick up time so that everything can be as fresh and tasty as possible. You can also walk up to our front door and order any of our drinks during open hours. We also offer online gift cards. This is a great way to show us some support and to give someone you know a nice gift to use now or when we fully reopen… 

What are your hopes for the future?

We hope to be able to hire back some of our awesome employees as soon as possible and find a new positive flow for our business in these strange times. We hope everyone can be respectful and understanding of changes we may make and rules we will all have to follow. We hope to learn as much as we can about our business from all of this and continue to make The Lift a fun, enjoyable, uplifting place for everyone to come and visit. 

Want to support and learn more about local women-owned businesses? Check out their websites below!

  1. East Side Bake Shop
  2. Stellar Brew
  3. Sage to Summit
  4. The Lift

Read more stories about how other women are dealing with coronavirus:

  1. How Coronavirus is Impacting the Lives of Outdoor Women Around the Globe
  2. Loving Your Body Image in Quarantine

About the Author

Isabela Zawistowska

Isabela Zawistowska is a documentary filmmaker based in the Eastern Sierra. She runs a collaborative film group called Chayo Films. Her work aims to unveil shared human truths that unite us all. Always open to collaborating on projects, you can find Isabela on Instagram at @isabelazawist

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