Sara Armet started making chocolate just for fun last spring when the coronavirus forced most New Yorkers to remain at home. Little did she know it would become a full-time online business, Lady and the Chocolate.
“I feel so fortunate by the amount of people it has touched in such a short amount of time,” Armet said. "Chocolate has become the ultimate medium to express myself creatively. I say it's chocolate meets fashion.”
Armet worked for a decade as a stylist at Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys New York, but her career came to a screeching halt when the pandemic erupted. Making chocolate became a form of therapy.
"Feelings of uncertainty would go into the chocolate," Armet said.
Armet is among the millions of Americans who became entrepreneurial during the pandemic. The Peterson Institute for international economics found that 4.4 million businesses were created last year, a 24% increase over the previous year — by far the biggest increase on record.
Franchising expert Dan Rowe says launching startups was a way for people to have more control of their lives during the pandemic when so much was uncertain.
"People were losing their jobs, their lives were disrupted, their financial lives were thrown into turmoil on something that they had nothing to do with. I think people are seeing how much wealth is being created through starting your own business," CEO of Fransmart Dan Rowe said.
Rowe says e-commerce startups have become popular because more people feel comfortable buying online.
"It makes them feel safe. It makes them feel smart. It makes them feel like they are in charge," Rowe said.
Armet helped to build her business through word of mouth in her neighborhood and social media. After contracting COVID-19, she used a crowdfunding campaign to help support the business.
"Thanks to friends and generous community members we raised 22,000 in just 30 days,” Armet said. “It started as a home grown passion project. I was delivering this on CitiBike. Everyone wanted a piece of it and before you knew it it was the ultimate neighborhood hustle."
She hopes to cater small outdoor events this summer.
"Hopefully doing some socially distanced gatherings in people's backyards. We're excited to be partnering with some local causes and businesses we believe in," Armet said.
Armet looks forward to increasing her sales in the Tri-state area and nationwide.