A Major Glow Up

Alyssa Cressotti
March 7, 2022
nyc skyline in neon

During the height of the pandemic, many small businesses struggled to pivot—making tough decisions that would ultimately impact whether their companies would sink or swim. For companies working with Pace, it was more smooth sailing than white water rapids.

NAME GLO, a women-owned and Lower East Side-based custom neon light studio, found itself in an interesting predicament during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. When COVID-19 guidelines regarding non-essential businesses were implemented, NAME GLO had to temporarily close its physical storefront and studio space, forcing the business to transition to operating exclusively online with limited operational capacity. To say the least, the future was uncertain.

Enter Pace’s Small Business Development Center. Funded in part by the US Small Business Administration and the State of New York, the Pace SBDC combines the resources of Pace University, the private sector, and local/state/city government to enable small businesses to reach their full potential.

Through working with Pace’s SBDC, NAME GLO was able to do just that—namely, by turning the immense challenges of the pandemic into an opportunity.

When NAME GLO hooked up with Pace’s SBDC, they were not only able to get guidance on how to apply for financial assistance to support their business, but they were able to work with Pace’s up and coming business students. Two undergraduate consumer behavior classes, taught by Lubin Professor Mary Long, helped NAME GLO research changes in buyer behavior during the pandemic and in turn provide valuable insights and recommendations for business growth.

Ritvi Shah ’22, a Global Marketing Management and Finance major, was one such student that took up the challenge of finding dynamic ways for NAME GLO to adapt to running a business during a pandemic. She explains, “While working for NAME GLO, my team and I had our own roles according to our talents. My role was looking at social platforms the company was on and analyzing what could be improved on. I dug up information that even the company didn’t realize was available and presented it to NAME GLO.”

“Working on this project with a real business in NYC was a great experience. I was able to learn about the different nuances that come with running a business, and the cutthroat competition that exists in NYC.”

The opportunity for students to work directly with a real business was a major value add, not just in terms of hard skills and research, but the soft skills that only experience can really give. According to Shah, “Working on this project with a real business in NYC was a great experience. I was able to learn about the different nuances that come with running a business, and the cutthroat competition that exists in NYC.”

For Advertising and Integrated Marketing Communications student Luanne Dinh ’22, one of the most important things she learned was empathy and listening to her clients’ needs to help develop a strategy.

“NAME GLO was very adamant about their craftsmanship of neon lighting, even if that meant their prices were higher than their competitors,” explains Dinh. “Instead of suggesting to offer major discounts or lower their prices, we instead opted for an awareness campaign that would inform consumers why NAME GLO’s neon lights are more expensive—better quality, professionally installed. Essentially, turning their price into a benefit.”

With assistance from Pace SBDC Business Advisor Sandra Cely, NAME GLO was able to secure more than $200,000 in financial support through the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, helping retain the venture's eight jobs.

For the students who worked on the project, the rewards of working with the SBDC and NAME GLO helped create new opportunities and possibilities for their own futures.

“Working with NAME GLO was a great way to challenge myself. Rather than simply reiterating what I was learning in class onto a piece of paper, I was able to apply what I had learned,” says Shah. “I was able to see how extensive my academic and professional capabilities were when I put in the hard work. I found ways to research other than the conventional Google search and clicking on the first thing that I popped up. Instead, I dug deeper to find problems that lay within the organizational structure that caused core problems.”

In the future, Dinh, who currently freelances as a brand designer for an Aruban coffee shop, hopes to turn her work into a full-fledged design company.

“In the future, I would definitely consult Pace SBDC for starting my own business,” she says. “Every student should get a chance to work with a real client, it is extremely rewarding to see your strategies create positive changes in a real business.”

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