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SLO County resident turns job loss into a new business venture: The Natural Toolbox in Pismo 

The coronavirus has changed lives across the globe for better or worse. SLO County resident Roxi Buchanan decided to adapt to that change and turn an unfortunate job loss into a new business venture.

click to enlarge NEW VENTURES Roxi Buchanan opened The Natural Toolbox at the Pismo Beach Premium Outlets in October, after losing her job at the Cracked Crab restaurant due to the COVID-19 pandemic. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE NATURAL TOOLBOX
  • Photo Courtesy Of The Natural Toolbox
  • NEW VENTURES Roxi Buchanan opened The Natural Toolbox at the Pismo Beach Premium Outlets in October, after losing her job at the Cracked Crab restaurant due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Buchanan worked for the Cracked Crab restaurant in Pismo Beach for nearly 14 years until she was laid off in March.

She told New Times that she's not one to sit still and needed to do something to keep herself occupied, so she revisited her side business. In 2014 Buchanan became a doTERRA Essential Oils specialist and participated in vendor shows, artisan markets, and fairs, but she had put it on pause for the last few years.

Picking up right where she left off, Buchanan reached out to old customers, cultivated some new ones, and started hosting virtual workshops and make-and-take-parties. As the months went on, Buchanan said she noticed her clients were "Zoomed out" once their children returned to school and many had virtual work meetings.

Buchanan had been in the hospitality industry for many years, and she realized she missed the constant flow of customers and interacting with the public.

Noticing a few unoccupied storefronts at the Pismo Beach Premium Outlets, she called the property manager and asked what it would take to get a mall cart she could sell her oils out of and "talk to people throughout the holidays."

"He came back and said, 'Well, what's it going to take to get you inside because I have a bunch of empty buildings and I really need to get the lights on for the holidays,'" she said.

Buchanan opened her shop with the help of business partners, including her mother, as well as partnerships with local artisans—who, coincidentally, are also female duos, mothers and daughters or sisters.

"My mom and I grew up in a consignment shop that my grandma ran in the little town of Oakdale, so we already knew the business plan and what it would take," Buchanan said. "It just started taking shape in a fun way, and I really didn't know what to expect."

Buchanan opened the doors to The Natural Toolbox pop-up shop in October. What started as a place to sell her essential oils, oil-infused products, and aroma therapy tools turned into a hub for local artisans.

The Natural Toolbox has about 20 partnerships with more on the way. It has sea glass and wrapped jewelry from Seaside Treasures Morro Bay, resin art by mother-daughter duo Art Gradient, and other handmade goods.

"There is a lot of opportunity where there wasn't one before, and I think that if the pandemic hadn't come in the first place I wouldn't have found myself in this position," she said.

Buchanan said her shop couldn't have come together without her family—including her mother, Dena Buchanan, and daughter, Kaleigh Gregory—business partners, and boyfriend, Aaron Bevan.

The Natural Toolbox has a signed lease agreement with the outlets until Feb. 15, 2021, but Buchanan is hoping to renew her lease for another three months.

Fast facts

SLO County UndocuSupport announced the establishment of the SLO County UndocuSupport Fund at The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County. UndocuSupport is a collaborative effort of local organizations, community leaders, and concerned individuals who came together in April 2020 during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic to provide support for local undocumented and mixed-status immigrant families left out of pandemic relief programs. During the past eight months, the organization has raised more than $85,000 from 175 local donors, distributed more than $80,000 in grants to more than 500 local families, received more then $220,000 in grants from the California Immigrant Resilience fund, and provided support to nearly 2,000 residents in 17 SLO County communities. Visit sloundocusupport.org for more info.

Women's March SLO is hosting Power Up Democracy, a virtual march on Jan. 23, to celebrate the movement's work and the inauguration of Kamala Harris as the United States' first ever female vice president, a record number of women elected to the U.S. Congress, and a diverse new administration. For a list of the event's speakers and how to RSVP, visit womensmarchslo.com. Δ

Staff Writer Karen Garcia wrote this week's Strokes and Plugs. Send tidbits to strokes@newtimesslo.com.

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