Biz Buzz: Crisis compels Dubuque entrepreneur to start makeup line; dairy company earns statewide award; restaurant industry reels

Dubuque business owner Kaylee Demmer is launching a new makeup line, Diva K Cosmetics. PHOTO CREDIT: NICKI KOHL

Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from around the tri-states. This week, we highlight developments in Dubuque and Lancaster, Wis.

In recent weeks, Kaylee Demmer joined the ranks of countless business owners adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic shutdown.

Demmer has owned Afterglow Salon & Spa, 3372 Center Grove Drive, since the summer of 2015. She opened A New You spa at 3080 Cedar Crest Court in 2018.

Both of her Dubuque businesses have been shuttered for more than a month, forcing Demmer to go back to the drawing board.

“It’s been stressful for me — extremely stressful,” Demmer said. “I run two storefronts, and the services we provide are the main sources of income. I realized I needed to get creative in what else I can sell or do.”

Demmer recently announced plans to launch a new makeup line, dubbed Diva K Cosmetics. The new offering will sell makeup, hand creams, body wash and other customized products via Demmer’s existing storefronts and a new website.

Customers can pre-order items and Demmer plans to roll out the new makeup line in earnest in May.

Demmer said Diva K Cosmetics was borne out of a difficult and frustrating experience.

Both of her existing businesses sell some similar products. But, by and large, the businesses earn money through salon and spa services.

Government-mandated closures cut off that primary source of revenue, leaving product sales as the only source of income.

Recognizing the depths of the current crisis — and the possibility of others in the future — Demmer decided she needed to beef up her product selection.

She believes her new makeup options will be a hit.

“Even when you’re in quarantine, not leaving the house, putting on a little makeup can just make a woman feel better,” she said.

While consumers already have a bevy of big-name makeup options to choose from, Demmer believes customers will gravitate toward a Dubuque business offering quality products.

“Especially now, I think people understand the importance of supporting local businesses rather than large corporations,” she said.

Residents can learn more about the business by calling 515-444-5754 or visiting DivaKCosmetics.com.

ENERGY AWARD

A southwest Wisconsin dairy equipment and service company has garnered statewide attention for promoting energy-efficiency measures.

Fuller’s Milker Center, located in Lancaster, was among 13 entities that received an Energy-Efficiency Excellence award from Focus on Energy, a Wisconsin initiative that promotes smart energy decisions. Focus on Energy announced the awards in conjunction with Earth Day.

Fuller’s Milker Center was founded by Bill and Jean Fuller in 1953 and started with just one employee. The company is now run by Bill’s three sons and employs 18 full-time workers, according to its website.

Located at 423 U.S. 61 N., Fuller’s Milker Center sells milking equipment, cooling and refrigeration items, feeding systems and a wide range of other products. It also installs and maintains such items.

Jessica Mlsna, an energy advisor for Focus on Energy, said Fuller’s Milker Center was deserving of the statewide recognition.

“Our goal is to make Wisconsin as energy-efficient as possible,” said Mlsna. “They are doing their part by giving their customers that extra incentive to put in more energy efficient equipment.”

Focus on Energy partners with Wisconsin utilities and businesses to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy products.

Fuller’s Milker Center is among many Wisconsin entities that help customers obtain energy-efficient products and secure significant rebates in the process.

Employee Bart Fuller said the center sells energy-efficient lighting, vacuum pumps, ventilation equipment and other items to customers.

“There are very substantial savings for many of these products,” Fuller said. “Some of these farms can save tens of thousands of dollars.”

Fuller’s Milker Center can be reached at 608-723-4634. Residents can learn more about state energy- efficiency programs by visiting

FocusOnEnergy.com.

IOWA RESTAURANTS REELING

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the Iowa restaurant industry, according to a recent report.

The Iowa Restaurant Association last week reported that 95% of restaurant operators have seen a decline in “total dollar sales volume” this year, compared to the same point in 2019. The state’s restaurant and food service industry is poised to lose $310 million in sales this month alone.

The study said the situation is even more dire for bars, with 92% of those institutions currently shuttered right now.

These circumstances create short- and long-term concerns for employees at those businesses.

The Iowa Restaurant Association found that 87% of restaurants and bars had laid off, furloughed or terminated employees because of COVID-19 shutdowns. A mere 45% of eateries expect to re-hire all of these impacted workers upon reopening.

Industry struggles have prompted officials to request swift changes.

The association’s president and CEO, Jessica Dunker, said the industry is “on the precipice of collapse”

“We desperately need to find a path to responsibly open our doors, even if it’s a graduated, rolling re-open strategy that includes social distancing measures,” she wrote.