About the project

Victoria is such a great place to live because of the amazing restaurants, bars, breweries, coffee shops, and quaint little stores. When this is over and everyone is safe and healthy, we want these places to still be around.

The four organizers behind the project, Emily Hannan, Eve Olynyk, Tara Price, and Nathan Sorochan, have assembled a team of volunteers to support local businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Victoria is such a great place to live because of the amazing restaurants, bars, breweries, coffee shops, and unique local retailers. The overall goal of the project is to help make sure that when this is over and everyone is safe and healthy, all those great places will still exist.

To get work out quickly, YYJLocalsForLocals offers eight main services, listed below. Any small business in the area can request one of these services through the website located at yyjlocalsforlocals.com.

Some of our pro-bono services:

  • Help designing merch to drive sales
  • Building a single page website (landing page)
  • Write a message about how your business is handling COVID-19
  • Email design to send to your customers
  • Social media post or ad copy & design
  • Help setting up gift card sales on your website
  • Marketing help to promote your delivery service
  • Help setting up a subscription box service 


For press inquiries, please contact yyjlocalsforlocals@gmail.com. 


Whose idea was it?
This was a group idea between Emily Hannan, Eve Olynyk, Tara Price, and Nathan Sorochan. The four met remotely through the YYJ Tech Slack and YYJ Tech Ladies Slack groups, and all felt the need to do something quickly, to help local businesses during this crisis.

We all experienced the last recession in 2008-2009, and watched so many small businesses fail. As the current crisis was beginning to unfold, we started to witness restaurant owners completely at a loss, worried that the businesses they’d invested so much in were in danger of disappearing.

The four of us realized that a relatively small amount of marketing, web, and design work could help small businesses create or improve their online presence in ways that would put them in a better position to weather these uncertain times. So many restaurants and retailers need creative solutions while they’re unable to welcome customers into their physical locations during COVID-19.

How does the program work?
Great question. Any small business can request one of the eight pro-bono services on our website through an easy form. One of our tech + marketing volunteers, if able, will contact the business and get started. Our volunteers are working full time jobs during the day, and are donating their time and talent to help keep these businesses going.

What do you hope to achieve?
Our hope is to help more traditional small businesses stay open and okay during this crisis, particularly those that may not have had the opportunity to digitize. Even one Instagram ad could mean the difference between no sales or a flood of sales. Victorians are eager to support their local businesses, and they’re willing to find creative ways to offer that support. Our goal is to help businesses find creative ways to reach those customers. 

What advice do you offer those who are struggling right now?
If you are a business owner, contact us through our website, fill out the form and request the service you need. We are local designers, marketers and developers who want to see you succeed.

If you have family or friends who can help, getting a basic website online is key. Google Sites offers free website hosting and design tools, as do many other website providers right now.

Are there any resources you recommend – books, podcasts, etc that our readers would find useful?
So many! We have a section on our website, as of Friday March 20, with resources for business owners and local community members.

Are there any services you’re not prepared to offer?
Our intention is to augment the services already being provided by agencies and freelancers, not replace them. So things like designing logos and creating full websites are beyond the scope of what we will provide. 

Any criteria for getting assistance through this program?
We ask that a business be located in Victoria, Vancouver Island or the Gulf Islands. Our volunteers live and work here, and are committed to their local community first.