YOUNGSTOWN – Concept Studio on West Federal Street in downtown Youngstown opened in April 2019 with sizable expectations. It serves the event and meeting needs of the community with a unique flair.
“Our business was well-received, and positive feedback came in droves,” said the company’s president, Mary Ann Meyer. “Bookings for the year easily beat our projections.”
Concept Studio began 2020 with “robust” first quarter bookings, Meyer says. But once socialization and gathering restrictions were put in place due to COVID-19, bookings fell off drastically. Refunds were issued to clients that had no choice but to cancel. Many postponed their events to 2021.
“While we were strategizing ways to re-imagine Concept Studio, we spent our then available weekends delivering food on the Satur-Day of Caring project with The United Way,” Meyer says. “With one full-time employee and several part-time employees, avoiding layoffs wasn’t our problem. Rather, we were strategically examining how we could help future brides of the area still have their weddings in a safe, responsible way.”
Concept Studio’s new business plan includes a focus on “micro weddings.” Parties of 10 or fewer can use half of the venue’s space as the ceremony section, where Concept Studio has invested in wedding arches and a photo wall to enhance the event. The reception is staged in the other half of the space, with seated take-out meals served.
“Brides were pleased with the setup and immediate family enjoyed seeing their loved ones joined together,” Meyer says.
What has Concept Studio learned from the challenges of 2020?
“A business owner has to be agile, adaptable, and ready to reinvent to reflect the economic times,” Meyer says. “A solid business plan is essential for long-term success. But the ability to modify that plan quickly can determine immediate success or failure. We were fortunate to be able to shift gears from hosting events with up to 100 people to downsizing, restructuring and filling the needs of our community on a much smaller scale.”
Still, revenue was down 38% last year compared to 2019. Meyer is looking forward to helping clients hold their events that rescheduled to 2021.
“Pandemic or not, couples get married, babies are born, birthdays come and go, and we hope to be able to help celebrate these life events,” Meyer says. “As downtown businesses return to work, we look forward to offering a unique space for meetings, luncheons, and socially responsible gatherings.”