INDIANAPOLIS — Many Hoosiers are still waiting on their first benefit payments since losing income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
An Indianapolis photographer is putting her creativity to work to make ends meet.
This time of year, entrepreneur Ashley Raines should be slammed with spring photoshoots and graduation pictures. The coronavirus pandemic has hit her normally bustling photography business especially hard.
"It killed it," Raines said. "It gave it the virus and it killed it."
As the owner of the Photos by Hoskins photography company, Raines is self-employed. Regular unemployment benefits aren't an option. Seven weeks after the first stay-at-home order was issued, Raines still hasn't received money from the federal pandemic unemployment assistance program created specifically for gig workers and the self-employed.
LEARN MORE | Photos by Hoskins
The Indiana Department of Workforce Development said the first payments under the pandemic unemployment assistance program should go out this Friday, but Raines couldn't keep waiting and instead came up with a new idea to pay the bills.
"It's called BBB — Bag It Box It Basket — and it makes it easier on men to gift women to show their appreciation," Raines said.
Just in time for Mother's Day, Raines is using her pent-up creativity on appreciation baskets. Before Raines hand delivers the bag, box or basket, the customer sends Raines on a shopping trip with a list of the type of items the recipient would enjoy.
"For some men, if it's a love basket he might say put her a little outfit in there so I'll look for an outfit or I had a lady ask me to make one for her mother, she wanted it to be a relaxation basket, so I found her a robe, some slippers, bath bombs," Raines said.
While her photography business sits at a standstill, Raines is working hard to fill online orders for baskets. She said the ongoing pandemic has been a lesson in versatility.
"It gave me structure and it gave me a little push," Raines said. "You know I've been sitting on ideas and it gave me the time to you know grab them."