Estimated reading time 22 minutes, 57 seconds.
Challenging times often create opportunities for great ideas to take shape. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the aviation community. Between layoffs, bankruptcies, and an industry in shambles, thousands of people were left displaced and disheartened. Years of hard work toward a career they were passionate about disappeared overnight.
But like a phoenix that rises out of the ashes, these passionate individuals have reinvented themselves while still staying true to their greatest passion: aviation. Here are 10 aviation-related businesses that were created during the pandemic, which you absolutely need to know about.
Amie Aliza Aviation Jewelry
Amie Ullock, a furloughed Dash 8-400 pilot based out of Toronto, Ontario, began making aviation-inspired jewelry toward the beginning of the pandemic. It was a creative outlet for her that also represented her personal passions: aviation, and creating jewelry. Amie Aliza Aviation Jewelry is for the modern woman; its versatile, chic, and timeless pieces appeal to pilots, flight attendants, and travelers. Each piece is handcrafted by Amie in her apartment, and the jewelry now ships internationally. On her website she shares: “Not knowing when I may fly again is an unsettling thought, but my furlough has allowed me time to really dive into jewelry-making; a silver lining in a very uncertain time.”
Elaine Standohar’s life was put on hold when the virus first broke out. A student pilot, working toward her private license at the time, Elaine found herself out of work and unable to continue her flight training. Living in Denver, Colorado, with a strict stay-at-home order in place, Elaine began making soy candles at home. It was a fun, creative venture that slowly turned into what we know now as XC Candles. Combining witty aviation-related phrases with beautifully smelling candles has helped keep the passion alive for Elaine. XC Candles has had an amazing response from the aviation community and is now funding Elaine’s flight training. She completed her private license and is now continuing on to her instrument rating.
The brainchild of a husband-and-wife team based out of Chicago, Illinois, Pilot’s Coffee was created by Justin and Christina Seims, a corporate pilot and a medical student, respectively. Pilot’s Coffee is fully compostable from its packaging to its collapsible travel cups. Its premier “Latty Blend” coffee comes in sachets — which means all you have to do is add hot water. The company’s products were created with the traveler in mind. Whether you’re hiking, camping, or flying, their steeped coffees are easily made on the go. Justin and Christina’s passion for aviation and desire to create an amazing product for everyone to enjoy is what inspired them to create this company.
Justin is the host of the popular Pilot to Pilot podcast where he interviews pilots from all walks of life and shares their journeys for others to learn from. You can find Pilot’s Coffee at www.pilotscoffee.com or on Instagram @pilotscoffee.
The Aeronaut Shop
Sarah Moore and Tosha Cypher, two pilots based out of Alaska, are the owners of The Aeronaut Shop.Their creative, aviation-inspired graphic designs are fresh, fun, and meant to bring the community together. With an apparel line made for both men and women, The Aeronaut Shop makes clothes you can feel good in that represent the aviation community. Their booth at this year’s Great Alaska Aviation Gathering was a huge hit, and proved that their idea would be a success. Their long-term goal is to give back to the community by creating scholarships available to flight students. This incredible duo have created an apparel line that represents the passion of the Alaskan aviation community and their own.
With more designs coming and a website launch around the corner, you will definitely want to keep an eye on this business. You can find The Aeronaut Shop on Instagram @theaeronautshop and online at www.theaeronautshop.com.
Aviator Cookie Company
Aviator Cookie Company was started by Chris Welch, an airline pilot with 25 years’ experience, based out of Midland, Michigan. Baking has always been a stress reliever for Chris, and something he did a lot of when air travel came to a screeching halt. He was driving around one day with his daughter when she said she wanted a cookie store when she grew up. The idea caught fire and Chris made his daughter’s dream a reality much sooner than anyone thought possible. Aviator Cookie Company makes cookies from scratch with no preservatives. Chris recently received a grant which will allow him to expand the business and hire bakers that will help him keep up with demand. He hopes to start delivering locally and shipping merchandise across the country. (Check out our feature story on Aviator Cookie Company here.)
Phelix and Co.
Lisa and Mark Krzywinski, both aircraft mechanics, are the founders of the aviation apparel company, Phelix and Co. When the pandemic first hit, they were both left without work and started pursuing different hobbies. What began as making apparel for themselves during the lockdown slowly developed into an expanding brand. Phelix and Co. features airport code T-shirts, up-cycled aircraft leather wallets, children’s apparel, and more. Their modern and youthful approach to aviation apparel is unique and edgy. Phelix and Co. is a contemporary take on aviation fashion. Something they advocate for is equality in aviation, and they are currently working on a Pride Month project.
Lisa also runs a successful Instagram page called @lipstick_aviation_, where she aims to promote and inspire women to pursue careers in aviation. She is also a mentor for Elevate Aviation. You can find more at www.phelixandco.com and on Instagram @phelixandco.
Jasmine Golanbari is the woman behind Aerofina, an aviation furnishings and woodworking company based out of Flamborough, Ontario. What started as a hobby has turned into a full-fledged career for Jasmine, as she takes scrap aircraft parts and turns them into beautiful, one-of-a-kind home and office furnishings. Jasmine grew up in the aviation industry with her father working as an aircraft maintenance engineer, but she never saw herself pursuing a career in the field until she realized she could be creative and put her own spin on things. She loves the history associated with every aircraft part she works with, as well as helping her customers memorialize their aircraft. Jasmine’s goal is to create raw, authentic pieces that bring aviation into your everyday life.
Pilot Projects Woodworking
Bill Geno, a grounded airline pilot, found himself with a lot of time on his hands during the pandemic. A fateful move to a house with a woodworking shop in the backyard put things in motion; it marked the start of what we now know as Pilot Projects Woodworking. Bill creates unique, hand-crafted wood cutting boards, tables, and more. It was something he had always wanted to get involved with and now he gets to share it with his two young boys. Bill likes creating things that have utility, and he’s partnered with many other small businesses in the aviation community to promote supporting local. Pilot Projects Woodworking has also collaborated with charitable organizations to fundraise for various causes.
Glasgow, Scotland-based Aviator Soaps was created during the pandemic by pilot Joanne Milne after career opportunities she’d been focused on for years dwindled away. She says, “I choose to perceive this time as an opportunity to make space for something new, and this turned out to be a hidden blessing as out of the ashes Aviator Soaps was born.” The soaps are free from harsh ingredients and are zero waste with up-cycled plastic-free packaging. Joanne’s goal is for Aviator Soaps to permanently change the relationship between soap and single-use plastics by creating products that do better. Each product is beautifully handmade and hand-packaged in the U.K.
Pretty Plane Stickers
Ashlyn Molinaro was a flight instructor who was moving on to a regional carrier when the pandemic hit. She had always been a creative person with a talent for drawing, but the pandemic gave her more time to draw than she had in the past. So, she created some stickers for herself, and some friends started commissioning her once they saw her work. Soon enough, Ashlyn had created an Etsy store and received requests from pilots across North America. Pretty Plane Stickers is a company she created to sell her personalized, aviation-themed stickers, prints, and more. Ashlyn is now in training to begin work for a regional carrier and will be coming back to Pretty Plane Stickers as soon as her training is complete.