Celebrities and entrepreneurs who started successful businesses during the pandemic

Any thorough analysis of the American entertainment industry is bound to show one thing. Hollywood and the entire entertainment scene has endured a series of tough times and the industry has consistently come out stronger. Against the odds, Hollywood has endured as a beacon in American society, consistently producing iconic entertainment.

During the global economic recession of 2009, Hollywood saw a 17.5 percent increase in ticket sales with at least a 16 percent increase in box office viewership. In other cases, sporting events and music concerts hosted in honor of tragic events such as the 9/11 bombings and Hurricane Katrina are part of American entertainment culture. This ability to overcome adverse times by providing people with relief from such periods remains an attractive feature of the entertainment industry for people.

However, the 2019 pandemic brought Hollywood’s ability to continue creating America’s favorite entertainment to a screeching halt, as massive multimillion-dollar film projects stalled as a result of lockdowns and restrictions. Although terrifying, the challenges of the pandemic brought new realities that created innovative opportunities for many people to generate new business ideas and thrive.

Murad Islamov, the CEO of New York-style bagel cafe – Maya Bagel Express is one of those people who was inspired by the pandemic to start a business.

“The pandemic changed everyone’s lives. Suddenly I wasn’t playing football anymore and chasing the Premier League. The hiatus allowed me to enter a headspace where I decided to pursue my business interests and passions. It also gave me the time to do it. So, I decided it was time to open a business and maximize the incredible opportunities created by the pandemic in the midst of the immense suffering that exists around us.” Islamov said. “This same trend has become a common part of many new business stories from Hollywood to the streets of Kentucky.”

Broadway stars are turning to new ventures

As a result of the disruptive effect of the pandemic, many Broadway stars have been given time off their professional schedules to try new things and explore other ventures. For some celebrities, that meant starting new businesses and building a dream business.

After spending some time off from her hiatus on the set of Frozen, theater stylist Fran Curry launched her own jewelry line, GirlFran Jewelry, which she describes as a dream come true. “Making jewelry was something that always cleared my mind and just gave me some creative outlet… It gave me purpose and such a jolt of energy,” says Curry.

Also at the height of the pandemic, Broadway star Robbie Fairchild used time away from the dance stage to set up a home flower business with colleagues Adam Perry and Sara Esty.

Speaking to Town & Country Magazine, Fairchild said of the venture: “When the health crisis was happening in New York, I was delivering bouquets at 7 p.m. to the employees at Mount Sinai West. It just gave me a feeling that I don’t get anymore as a performer on stage, to be creative and do something for someone, to see the face of the person I gave it to and their reaction.”

On the next steps for the ambitious business he said: “My dream for this is to grow it to a point where I could employ Broadway artists who have no outlet to perform and no income option right now. If we can find a way to stay creative and do an act of service, because with performing there is such a high reward and you train for the enjoyment of the audience.”

“I thought, this is what I want to pursue, at least as a side hustle while the theaters are down. I contacted that woman who contacted me on Instagram, sat down with her and her business partner, and we made the plan.”

Like other promising entertainers-turned-entrepreneurs, Islamov’s path changed from a pro-football career to entrepreneurship during the pandemic. The break from athletics gave Islamov the clarity he needed to pursue a business idea he describes as a “higher purpose.” The creation of Maya Bagel Express that started as a dorm project now has a branch in Louisville Kentucky.

“Covid was the most terrible event in the lives of most people in my generation. However, amid all the horror, the lockdowns and the time they afforded Americans brought clarity to many people on the business front. The pandemic displaced so many industries and created gaps that the most entrepreneurial people could fill, and it gave many others work license to stop and innovate.”

“The digitization of nearly every aspect of American work life — as well as disruptions in many industries — has contributed most to the rise of entrepreneurship in America.” says Islamov.

Since the pandemic, America has seen an increase in the number of entrepreneurs seeking to apply for new businesses and looking to hire staff. Reports show a 23% increase between 2020 and 2021 in the business space.

Global impact

The ripple effect of the global pandemic on the entertainment industry and business is a global phenomenon. Celebrities around the world have been out of work and are facing uncertainty over their employment status as a result of the unpredictable nature of the pandemic. This is especially true for the entertainment industries in the hardest-hit countries, such as the Philippine film industry.

Filipino movie stars Ara Mira and Rita Daniela are some of the notable celebrities exploring their entrepreneurial spirit after the pandemic hit. The two now run a vegetable business and a beauty business respectively.

Similar to most celebrity businesses, Islamov’s Maya Bagel Express has gained popularity among its fans. The Kentucky-based coffee shop is quickly becoming a Kentucky staple, garnering extensive exposure and features in local and international publications such as IBT, Louisville Business First and WLKY.

Commenting on his vision for the business, Islamov stated, “Building Maya Bagel brick by brick was not easy. I want this brand to be known as the go-to place for quality bagels, food and coffee and the like. Passion and consistency are key and are etched into the foundations of the brand and the company. I hope to have a brand that will last for years to come.”

Celebrity influence and celebrity endorsement is perhaps one of the most effective marketing tools in the business toolbox. Fan involvement gives celebrities enormous power in product marketing, and this reality has spilled over into what is now known as the influencer marketing model. This has also prompted businesses to start creating more relatable brands and building a fan base around their brands.

At the height of the pandemic, when overall sales margins were falling, luxury casual wear brand Aritza saw an unprecedented 115% increase in sales, all thanks to announcements and endorsements from Jennifer Lopez on social media.

Ismalov admits the power of having a strong following and explains how it has worked for him in his own entrepreneurial journey. “I already had a loyal fan base as an athlete and that fan base has contributed immensely to the success of Maya Bagels. Getting people to identify with your brand can be a game changer. It’s impossible to talk about the success of the cafe without acknowledging the support of my fans.” Ismalov says.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *