One group of Charleston entrepreneurs has been leveraging their connections through women’s s business groups on Instagram and Facebook to find the best ways to stay afloat amid the pandemic.

“I just think, as a business owner, it’s nice to get an idea out there,” said Becki Bowman, the local business owner who has headed up the effort. “We were all in panic mode, but we’ve been there to help each other, say, ‘Take a deep breath. Let’s figure this out.'”

Bowman, who runs an Etsy store for her business, Kailey’s Monogram, saw the need for connection between struggling business owners who were part of the Charleston Women in Business Facebook page.

So, she made one.

“I’m honestly amazed to see how many people have come together to support each other,” she said. “[Local businesses] might not be hitting it out of the ballpark this year, but they aren’t having to close down.”

Using a Instagram group message, a few dozen members of her informal group effectively formed an impromptu business association. Members range from craftsmen and service providers, to artists and beauticians, all sharing common goal of supporting each other through these times.

Bowman and others post links and information to grants and other opportunities for business aid, along with their own Instagram content, in an effort to attract more eyeballs, leveraging the platform’s algorithm to their advantage.

“A lot of us didn’t really understand Instagram, but we learned about the hashtags, the content sharing, the Reels,” Bowman said, referencing the platform’s new short-form video post format. “Throughout the day, we will go out and comment and share and engage on each others’ posts to boost their content that way.”

Now that some businesses are reopening physical stores, group members have been able to put faces to names. Even with vaccines coming soon, the group shows no signs of disbanding.

“None of us knew each other before this, but now not only are we helping each other out with their businesses, but we’ve been able to meet in person and see the people behind the screen,” Bowman said.

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