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“Sometimes I think to myself why did you have to pick a product that is not only so difficult to make, but so difficult to ship?”

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Courtesy of Uli Nasibova

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My Economy” tells the story of the new economic normal through the eyes of people trying to make it, because we know the only numbers that really matter are the ones in your economy.

The $900 billion relief package President Trump signed Sunday includes another $284.5 billion for Paycheck Protection Program loan funding. The program aims to help small businesses keep their staff on payroll amidst the pandemic. Businesses that have already received a loan could apply for the program again if they meet the new requirements of an “eligible recipient.”

Uli Nasibova is the owner of Gelateria Uli, which has two locations in Los Angeles. Her business received both a PPP and Economic Injury Disaster Loan earlier in the pandemic, loans which she said “saved my business.”

But Gelateria Uli’s long-term survival, Nasibova said, doesn’t come down to government aid.

“You can throw as many loans at me as you can,” she said. “They’re not going to fix the underlying problem, which is that the business environment has completely changed. It’s a different world now.”

Nasibova has been dealing with that different world for months now. At first it was devastating. And while the challenges haven’t disappeared, she’s been trying to adapt as best she can. Back in the summer, she decided she would change her business model to account for the diminished foot traffic her stores were seeing in the pandemic.

“So the first step of our pivot was to offer a subscription model,” she said. As she perfects her subscription model, she and her team are also perfecting their delivery method.

“Obviously, there were mistakes along the way,” she recalls. “Sometimes gelato would arrive completely melted, or dry ice — because it’s such a powerful chemical compound — can actually explode.”

The boxes Nasibova and her team are using to ship their gelato to customers. (Courtesy of Uli Nasibova.)

“Dry ice,” she explains “is considered a hazardous material by UPS, FedEx and all delivery companies. If you leave dry ice, it will turn into gas.”

“By the way, something that I learned the hard way: Never ever leave dry ice for several hours in your car, because it will suck all the oxygen out of the cabin,” Nasibova said. “But let me tell you, I’m never ever making that mistake ever again. It’s one of those things you’ll learn once.”

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