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Living and Learning in a Time of Change: Ellen Matis

Living and Learning in a Time of Change an ongoing series featuring women leaders, founders, makers and executives. These interviews are focused not on those that are used to a media spotlight, but by those who can benefit by having some light shone on them to support, lift up and get through to the other side.

In light of these changing times, I’m launching an ongoing series interviewing women founders, makers and executives to talk about what is changing for them right now and how the economy, social distancing and new “new” are changing their jobs. This is one part documentation for our future selves to reflect on and one part helping people right now when they need it most.

These interviews are focused not on those that are used to a media spotlight, but by those who can benefit by having some light shone on them to support, lift up and get through to the other side.

Meet Ellen Matis, owner of Hello Social Co. and Studio 1795 who resides in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.

At the time of this post, there have been 76 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania and it’s already impacting their daily life, community and economy.

SE: What has changed most significantly about your daily work routine in the last few days/weeks/months?

EM: I’m learning a lesson in slow living, for sure. Usually, my schedule is packed with meetings and I’m left at the end of each week wondering how I didn’t get my to-do list completed. This week, I’ve only had two Zoom calls, and have powered through projects that have been pushed to the back burner for months. 

SE: What are the new routines you’ve integrated to ensure you still meet other personal needs (emotional, spiritual, exercise…)?

EM: There’s a few things I’m doing to stay sane: 

  • Walking my dogs more for an opportunity to move away from my home office (with obvious benefits to the dogs, as well). 
  • I’m participating in Surge Live – Facebook Live workouts hosted by my gym, Elite Edge Athletics.
  • Supporting one business in my community every day by making a purchase of some kind or leaving a review. 

SE: What’s a pleasant surprise or something you discovered because of social distancing?

EM: From a work perspective, I’ve been way more productive than usual, and feel like I’ve been able to do some really meaningful work instead of just going through the motions. Strictly personal, I’ve had online conversations with people I haven’t talked to in a while, like my old college roommate.

SE: What has been the most frustrating change?

EM: The most obvious frustrating change is having to close Studio 1795, which is a coworking space and community events space.

SE: How is this impacting your business: pros, cons, neutral?

EM: I’ve basically accepted that Studio 1795 will have a zero-revenue month. As a coworking and community space, our entire business is based around getting together in a room with other humans. We’re not able to do this. Because most of our revenue comes from business owners and freelancers that cowork, we will not see their drop-in fees: They’re struggling too. We’ve also had to cancel all of our private party rentals, like three bridal showers that were scheduled in the coming weeks. 

SE: Have friends, family or co-workers changed the way they communicate with you?

EM: Not really. My friends and family have always communicated with me mostly online or via text, and that hasn’t changed. I think that some of them seem a little more panicked, and have expressed that through their messages, but I’m trying to stay positive.

SE: What gives you hope?

EM: The way communities have banded together to help our small businesses during what will be an incredibly financially difficult time has been very encouraging.

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