As a former guard at the Div. 1 level, Victoria Jones knows how to dish out an assist. As a graduate of a Boston College, she is a product of Jesuit values, including being men and women for others. It’s not surprising, then, that while she sees her own business struggle due to the COVID-19 health crisis, Jones has decided to help others who are in the same situation.
Jones, owner of Lynn-based Inbound Ink, a company specializing in screen printing, embroidery and promotional products, has started a fundraiser designed to benefit other small businesses. Inbound Ink is selling T-shirts and tote bags with a social distancing theme — designs include “Separate Today Stronger Tomorrow” and “Social Distancing Club” — with the net proceeds going to assist small businesses that can use a boost. The products are available at inboundinkonline.com.
“This keep the presses running and, with all the help EDIC has given me, I can try to help somebody else,” said Jones, referring to assistance she has received from the Economic Development & Industrial Corporation (EDIC/Lynn), both before and during the current downturn.
EDIC/Lynn Executive Director James M. Cowdell is not surprised to see Jones paying it forward.
“Inbound Ink has been a valuable addition to the local business community,” Cowdell said. “Victoria has worked very hard to build her business and this idea is keeping right in line with the type of young woman she is. It really is a great gesture.”
Jones, a Texas native who transferred to BC after playing on a national championship team at Baylor in 2005, started a clothing line while she was still in college. After graduating in 2009, she found herself doing more and more screen printing work and decided to open a business focusing on that.
When Jones was looking for space, she found the Lydia Pinkham Building and loved it. She has expanded twice — with help from an EDIC loan for capital improvements — since moving in five years ago and business was very good, until COVID-19 struck.
“We rely on events with crowds,” Jones said. “This is usually our busy season, but we’ve had a lot of orders pulled. Hopefully, once this is over we will get back to normal.”
Since the downturn hit, EDIC/Lynn — which remains open despite City Hall being closed to the public — has been working overtime to provide as much assistance as possible to businesses in the city. All loan payments have been deferred for three months, until June 1, and that date will be revisited as it draws closer, according to Cowdell.
With the federal government making funding for businesses available through the Small Business Association, EDIC/Lynn, an SBA partner lender, is helping businesses navigate the application process.
“There are very broad parameters for these low-interest loans. We are encouraging all businesses and nonprofits to apply,” said Cowdell, noting that EDIC also has loan funds available separate from the SBA process.
EDIC has also been trying to help businesses, especially restaurants offering takeout only, spread the word that they are open. “We have strong relationships with restaurants and we want to do anything we can to help them during this crisis,” said Cowdell, who called it the worst he has ever seen from an economic-development perspective.
“The other day, I was talking to someone who owns a business that has been in the city for 70 years, and he doesn’t think it is going to survive this,” Cowdell said, noting that a recent Goldman Sachs poll of 1,500 small business owners nationwide revealed that half of them do not think their business can survive more than three months in the current environment.
“This is serious,” he said, “but we are certainly going to do everything in our power to help our local businesses get through it.”