Pandemics and Hard Choices
For the most part, Dove Tree Photography has been closed since March 14, 2020 because of Covid. I was considered fully immunized by the beginning of June 2021, and my children and husband have both received their immunizations too. I was receiving PUA from unemployment that was covering my ongoing monthly (behind the scenes expenses), and I've been working part time working as a content coordinator that has been helping a lot too. I was intending on reopening my home studio as soon as it felt safe to do so, and I was watching and waiting to see what the schools were deciding. My children go to JPEC on Jackson College's campus, and they have been extreemly proactive and cautious. We were doing great....
(deep breath, because I'm going to start ugly crying...) Unemployment not only cut off my PUA payouts at the end of July/beginning of August, but they are now accusing me of never having been self employed which means I did not qualify for PUA, and as a result, I owe back all of my unemployment payouts going back to January 2021. Seriously, with the part time employment I was receiving, I could have made it another few months even without PUA...but if I have to make student loan payments for my photography/graphic design degree, continue paying for Dove Tree Photography's overhead, and also repay $11,000 + to the Michigan Unemployment Agency, there just wouldn't be anything left over at the end of the month, never mind I have household expenses and 2 teenage children.
I just could not believe how after investing over $50,000 over the years in studio renovations, education, professional level equiptment, and busting my butt to learn marketting and business finances, I could be accused of lying! I have worked hard and sacrificed harder to keep Dove Tree Photograph running, even when it has meant that 100% of all incoming funds went towards overhead, and I had to dip into my savings to keep things running. I have loved Dove Tree Photograph till it hurt, and still kept going.
Once a business closes, it can take months, if not a full year to rebuild and earn an income beyond overhead. Being self employed is scary enough without the threat of continued closures. I had promised myself I would not be another business that is closing, but I'm afraid I am going to have to close for a few months while I am training to work as an EMT and firefighter. I chose this profession as it builds on the medical assistant associate's degree I had nearly attained before switching to graphic design and photography. It is my intention, once the dust settles, to come back to photography part time, but I need a steady income if I am going to pay off student loans and unemployment benefits.
For the record, I really hate being called a thief and I never saw this coming. I am a small business who pays my taxes every year, and I NEVER EVER saw this coming. I am one of over 600,000 Michigan small businesses being forced into this same position, and I am resenting every minute of it. I am so sorry that I will need to temporarily close my doors.
I am finishing out existing contracts, but for the next foreseeable future, I am only taking ONE photoshoot per month so that I don't fall too far behind in my coursework and content/photography work for Neighbors of Jackson Magazine. I am hoping things will look much different next spring when I am acclimated to my new work schedule.