Surviving a pandemic as a new business

Serasana Littleton talks operating during the COVID-19 era

Joseph Rios
jrios@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 7/28/20

After working in marketing and sales for nearly 20 years, Molly Thorne grew restless and knew she wanted to do something that made people feel good. She always had a dream in the back of her mind to …

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Surviving a pandemic as a new business

Serasana Littleton talks operating during the COVID-19 era

Posted

After working in marketing and sales for nearly 20 years, Molly Thorne grew restless and knew she wanted to do something that made people feel good.

She always had a dream in the back of her mind to open a tea shop and before retiring from marketing and sales, she learned of Serasana — a small franchise based out of Texas that offers massages, acupuncture, a tea bar and yoga. The minute that Thorne read about Serasana, she grew excited because it offered everything she wanted to do with her career. Shortly after learning about the company, Thorne boarded an airplane to Texas where she met with the owners of Serasana.

“Before I knew it, I opened my only place six weeks later,” said Thorne, who opened Serasana Littleton at 9893 W. Chatfield Ave. on Dec. 27, 2019.

But just eight weeks into business, Thorne was forced to close the south Jefferson County location on March 17 as the coronavirus closed non-essential businesses during the stay-at-home order that lasted in Jefferson County through May 8. Now, she is working to keep her newly formed business afloat and is finding creative ways to keep her company’s name known in the community.

“If I’m being honest, I cried the whole way home,” said Thorne, as she reflected on the day that she found out she was going to have to close. “I cried up the stairs, and I cried my way to bed. Like a lot of other businesses, we’ve all felt like we’re in very intense pressure. I felt paralyzed the first month. But as we got a little closer (to reopening), I started thinking that we have to pivot and do something to continue to be there for the community.”

Before she knew that she would be able to open again, a neighbor approached Thorne about offering yoga outdoors. She called Shaffer Elementary School Principal Jeremy Brasher about using the school’s soccer field for yoga classes, and he gave her a greenlight to use the field.

Since she started using the field for free yoga classes in June on Saturday mornings, Thorne said she’s had 50 to 70 Ken Caryl and Littleton residents attend her classes. The large field makes it easy for residents to spread out and do yoga in a safe environment.

“I just wanted to do something for free for the community. There was no intent to make money,” said Thorne, who said that by offering free yoga, she is spreading the word that Serasana Littleton is open and still offering services.

Lisa Bickett, who lives in the southwest Denver area, has attended nearly every outdoor class Thorne offers. She started attending Serasana Littleton when it opened after her daughter introduced her to yoga. Bickett said yoga helps her calm down and connect with her body and mind.

“(The outdoor classes were) really a great introduction back into coming out of this COVID hermit situation and having an opportunity to connect with the community. They are promoting such a sense of being a part of the community, and it’s really a great way to connect nature with that mind and body philosophy,” said Bickett. “It’s freeing and relaxing. I enjoy it tremendously.”

Thorne said she has found ways to offer touch free services like acoustic therapy that she describes as induced meditation in a vibrating lounge chair that gives her customers a sense of calmness. Serasana Littleton also started offering salt therapy where customers sit in a room and inhale fine salts that are good for people with asthma.

As far as safety measures, Thorne said she is making sure to keep everything clean and sanitized. She is conducting temperature checks on her customers and following guidelines from the state like limiting gatherings and following social distancing recommendations.

“One thing I always tell my staff is when you think you’ve cleaned it enough, clean it again. That’s our motto,” she said.

As a business owner, Thorne is trying to think one day at a time and is praying that Serasana Littleton isn’t required to close again. She said her business barley got through the lockdown, and if a second one occurred, she isn’t sure how many businesses would survive.

Pam Bales, president of the West Metro Chamber, which works to build a strong business community in Jefferson County, said the chamber has a task force that meets every two weeks to discuss business concerns.

“The biggest thing the chamber has done is that we’ve become the hub of information. It’s not just information for businesses,” said Bales. “It’s community resources. If you have to lay off an employee, they need food. Where can they get food? Funding availability, if you need help where can you go? We have these huge lists that will put you right where you go.”

Bales said there have been some issues with small businesses having access to personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, particularly in southern Jefferson County. She said the chamber has been advocating for the county to provide finances for PPE.

Bales applauded businesses like Serasana Littleton that are finding ways to adjust to the pandemic.

“Flexibility and more innovation is going to be needed because it’s not going to change anytime in the near future,” she said.

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