National Women’s Small Business Month – Company Spotlight: HAYVN

Felicia Rubinstein Founder & Chief Collaborator of the Coworking Community – HAYVN

Meet Felicia Rubinstein, Founder & Chief Collaborator of the Coworking Community – HAYVN, which opened its doors in May of 2019. Felicia worked with our Business Banking team on a PPP loan. We connected with her to learn more about her experience with our team and the importance of staying positive when starting your own business.

FCB: What is your business specialty/focus?

FR: Coworking and Flexible Office Space, located in Darien.

FCB: Why do you trust your business to First County Bank?

FR: First County Bank is always very responsive. They were especially amazing during the Covid crisis, as they helped me throughout the process of getting funding via a PPP loan.

FCB: Who is your go to Banker on our Business Banking team?

FR: Michael Yao

FCB: What were/are some of the hurdles your business experienced due to the pandemic?

FR:  We are working hard to maintain existing members despite social distancing concerns, and bringing in new members who are interested in private offices. We had to update our dedicated desks with plexiglass and dedensify our common areas and private offices, in order to adapt to the “new normal.”  We ramped up our marketing to support our membership recruiting efforts. We also created a virtual membership to maintain existing members and grow our subscription model. We incurred considerable expenses in May and June to make our facility a “Safe HAYVN” for our members and other visitors.

FCB: What is your Covid Comeback story or how did your business model adapt as a result of the pandemic?

FR: We are seeing some progress in recovering the revenue we lost between February and May, but we are also encountering severe headwinds. We have landed approximately 35 new members over the past 6 months, resulting in an increase in revenue. Our team had to adapt our business model to address social distancing concerns, retrain existing members on new protocols, and bring in new members who are more interested in private offices. We are also actively experimenting with digital memberships, virtual mailboxes, for profit program offerings and events, alternative family-friendly coworking packaging options, and an internship program to help members and high-school and college students in the area.

FCB: Tell us about a situation where First County Bank was able to help/assist the needs of your business.

FR:  We received PPP loan funding and advice from First County Bank. Our commercial banker Michael Yao was super responsive and very helpful.  I would prepare my files in the middle of the night, when I couldn’t sleep. Michael would be right there getting back to me first thing in morning.  The process was very smooth and it absolutely saved my business during these unprecedented times.

FCB: What advice if any, you would offer up to women who are interested in starting their own business?

FR: Go for it – and be sure to stay positive and carry your own sunshine.  Others will be attracted to your positive attitude and be encouraged to do the same.

FCB: Any hurdles that you had to overcome as a female business owner?

FR: Always – it is a balancing act – juggling family and work.  You have to be really buttoned up and super prepared to be taken seriously.


National Women’s Small Business Month – Company Spotlight: Milk

Deborah Casey, Partner and Chief Client & Operating Officer of Milk

Milk is a Marketing Communications and Advertising agency located in the heart of South Norwalk, which has been helping clients build their brands for almost 20 years. We spoke with Deborah Casey – Partner and Chief Client and Operating Officer, to understand how First County Bank assisted them with an unexpected business hurdle, and how they continued to create chemistry with their team and clients with a little help from technology.

FCB: What is your business specialty/focus?

DC: Marketing Communications and Adverting agency that specializes in Brand Building.

FCB: Why do you trust your business to First County Bank?

DC:  First County Bank puts their customer’s first. They are very attentive and you can always get a person on the phone when you have a question, you don’t get passed along.

FCB: Who is your go to Banker on our Business Banking team?

DC: Jagjiwan Singh and Mark Rosenbloom, both of whom have been wonderful from day one.

FCB: What were/are some of the hurdles your business experienced due to the pandemic?

DC: We are a marketing agency and we do a lot of team brainstorms and presentations to clients which couldn’t happen in person due to the quarantine. Thankfully, technology allowed us to continue brainstorms and presentations to clients virtually, which is so important when trying to maintain the team’s chemistry and sell a client on a new idea.

FCB: Tell us about a situation where First County Bank was able to help/assist the needs of your business?

DC:  First County was incredibly helpful when applying for PPP loan. They kept an open line of communication on how to process the paperwork, deadlines and changes as they came. We were so fortunate to be with First County during this time because to them all clients matter and because of that we were able to access a PPP loan. I don’t believe this would have happened if we banked with one of the national banks.


National Women’s Small Business Month – Company Spotlight: Everwell

 

Abby Knott and Lindsay Hurty – Co- Founders of Darien–based Everwell.

First County Bank connected with Abby Knott and Lindsay Hurty, the co-founders behind the Darien based Community + Coworking company, Everwell, as they shared with us how they have changed their business models to withstand the pandemic, and advice they’d give to fellow female entrepreneurs.

FCB: What is your business specialty/focus?

AK & LH: Everwell is a membership-based multipurpose workspace and social community with highly curated programs and events that support and inspire all aspects of women’s lives—both personally and professionally. Our 3,000 square foot multipurpose workspace is located in Darien, CT and with our NEW virtual platform, members can now experience Everwell’s programs and events from anywhere.

FCB: Why do you trust your business to First County Bank?

AK & LH: Since our first meeting with First County Bank, we knew we had found our financial partner, a common-sense lender who works every day to support their customers and our community and a true ally who has our back as small business owners. We are so grateful for the relationship that we have built with our First County Banker, Singh, who has been a critical sounding board for us at such an uncertain time and has been instrumental in helping us navigate the financial aspect of owning a small business during a pandemic.

FCB: Who is your go to Banker on our Business Banking team?

AK & LH: Jagjiwan Singh

FCB: What is your Covid Comeback story or how did your business model adapt as a result of the pandemic?

AK & LH: We always dreamt of a space where women could gather to connect, work and grow in a meaningful way, so we created Everwell. As an annual membership-based community, our focus when we first launched in October 2019 was very much about our 3,000 square foot multipurpose Darien workspace and hosting in-person programs and events that spoke to women, regardless of where they were on their journey in life.

With the 10-week closure of our workspace due to COVID, at a time when connection was critical to our membership and the community at large, we were given the opportunity to think about why and how women gather to connect with each other. We had a unique opportunity to support and inspire our members in a new way at a time when they needed it most. While virtual programming and events were always part of our 3-year plan, we chose to fast track these efforts and launch our online virtual programming platform, which we launched just two weeks after our workspace closure. With this new virtual platform, members can now experience Everwell’s highly curated programs and events from anywhere, and it’s been a remarkable honor to experience the meaningful connection and growth that’s happening over ZOOM between our members, whether they are in CT or CA.

Additionally, as the landscape of work shifted in March and many professionals were working from home, we felt that it was critical to find a way to support those in our community who had a new need for a quiet, clean, distraction-free space outside of their homes to be productive and connect with others. So, for our June 1st workspace reopening, we expanded our annual membership model to include short-term memberships, which provide flexible options to use Everwell’s workspace without a long-term commitment. We are thrilled to welcome so many full-time career professionals who are looking for a community-grounded membership-based workspace just outside of NYC.

FCB: Tell us about a situation where First County Bank was able to help/assist the needs of your business?

AK & LH: First County Bank was instrumental in supporting our small business navigate the Paycheck Protection Program. Having a local and responsive partner assist us during this time was truly invaluable.

FCB: What advice if any, you would offer up to women who are interested in starting their own business?

AK & LH: If you’re starting a business, our advice would be to consider launching it with a business partner. We have each found that building our business together has not only been invaluable, but essential, for us. We recommend choosing a business partner whose greatest strengths compliment your greatest challenges or fears, and whose vision and work ethic align with yours. We also value that we are equally invested in the future.


Hearst Connecticut Media Group Names First County Bank A Winner of the Hearst Connecticut Top WorkPlaces 2020 Award

STAMFORD, Conn., September 29, 2020 - First County Bank has been recognized as a Top Workplaces 2020 winner by Hearst Connecticut Media Group. The list is based solely on employee feedback gathered through a third-party survey administered by employee engagement technology partner Energage, LLC. The anonymous survey uniquely measures 15 drivers of engaged cultures that are critical to the success of any organization, including: alignment, execution, and connection, just to name a few.

"In times of great change, it is more important than ever to maintain a connection among employees," said Eric Rubino, Energage CEO. "When you give your employees a voice, you come together to navigate challenges and shape your path forward based on real-time insights into what works best for your organization. The Top Workplaces program can be that positive outcome your company can rally around in the coming months to celebrate leadership and the importance of maintaining an employee-focused culture, even during challenging times."

First County Bank is thrilled to be one of the companies who have won this year's award, especially when going up against much larger organizations throughout Connecticut. "It is such a great honor to win this award and I am excited to announce this to our employees, to our customers, and to our community", said Robert Granata, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of First County Bank. "Our employees are vital to the success of the Bank as they are the greatest resources we have, and I am proud to lead this organization for them."

"I think the most important thing about winning the Top Workplaces Award is knowing that the feedback came directly, and only from our employees," said June Walker, Chief Human Resources Officer for First County Bank. "This year has been tough and through it all our employees still believe in who we are, which speaks volumes, and winning this award only echoes the sentiment."

About First County Bank
First County Bank, headquartered in Stamford, Conn. for more than 165 years, is an independent mutual community bank with 16 branches in Stamford, Norwalk, Darien, Greenwich, Fairfield, New Canaan and Westport offering deposit products, mortgages, wealth management, business banking services, and a full array of digital banking products including mobile and online banking. First County Bank has more than 220 employees and assets in excess of $1.7 billion. For additional information, please visit www.firstcountybank.com, or follow us @Firstcountybank on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and LinkedIn.

About Energage
Energage offers a fully unified SaaS platform, plus support and professional services, to help organizations recruit and retain the right talent. As a B-Corporation founding member, Energage has committed itself to the purpose of making the world a better place to work together. Based on 14 years of culture research, the engine behind 51 Top Workplaces programs across the country, and data gathered from over 20 million employees at 60,000 organizations, Energage has isolated the 15 drivers of engaged cultures that are critical to the success of any business, and developed the tools and expertise to help organizations measure, shape and showcase their unique culture to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. For more information, please visit energage.com. Follow us on Twitter @teamenergage and Facebook and LinkedIn @energage.


First County Bank Foundation Announces Applications Now Accepted For FirstClass Grants for Teachers Deadline October 31, 2020

STAMFORD, Conn., September 17, 2020First County Bank Foundation is pleased to announce that applications are now being accepted for the annual FirstClass Grants for Teachers, a grant program developed exclusively for public school K-5 grade teachers. The FirstClass Grants for Teachers was established in 2016 to commemorate the 15th anniversary of First County Bank Foundation. Eligible grant recipients are kindergarten through fifth grade teachers in Stamford, Norwalk, Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, Westport, Fairfield and neighboring communities of Bridgeport public school districts. Grant applications are accepted now through the deadline of October 31st, 2020 and are available online at FirstClass Grants for Teachers.

"We're proud that our Foundation has provided over $70,000 in grants to public school teachers since 2016", said Robert J. Granata, president of First County Bank Foundation and chairman, CEO of First County Bank. "I applaud our teachers for their creative thinking and commitment to sharing these programs with their students."

FirstClass Grants for Teachers was developed by First County Bank Foundation to help teachers fund programs fostering creative education in and beyond the classroom. Special consideration will be given to requests that are creative, innovative and have lasting impact. Examples of program topics include nature-based, astronomy, financial literacy, conservation, environmental, or art. Examples of past grants are available at FirstClass Grants for Teachers. Starting in November, grants will be awarded with funds available for use during the 2020-2021 school year. Applications for the FirstClass Grants for Teachers can be conveniently completed online. Requested grant amounts may not exceed $1,000 and authorization by the teacher's school principal is required. Grant requests for books, magazine subscriptions, school trips and computer equipment such as tablets or laptops are not eligible. Questions can be answered by contacting 203-462-4858. Deadline for applications is October 31, 2020.

About First County Bank Foundation
Established in 2001 in honor of the Bank's 150th anniversary, First County Bank Foundation was created to distribute funds annually to nonprofit organizations that support community and economic development, affordable housing, and programs that support quality of life and educational enrichment for children and families. As a mutual bank with no shareholders, First County Bank considers grants made by the foundation a means of paying dividends back to the local communities it serves.

About First County Bank
First County Bank, headquartered in Stamford, Conn. for more than 165 years, is an independent mutual community bank with 16 branches in Stamford, Norwalk, Darien, Greenwich, Fairfield, New Canaan and Westport offering deposit products, mortgages, wealth management, business banking services, and a full array of digital banking products including mobile and online banking. First County Bank has more than 220 employees and assets in excess of $1.7 billion. For additional information, please visit www.firstcountybank.com, or follow us @Firstcountybank on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and LinkedIn.


College students are a target of COVID-19 Scams

Scammers are taking advantage of the fact that many people are communicating digitally these days. A recent scam reported by the Federal Trade Commission explains how many college students have received emails that appear to be from the Financial Department of their college or university. In reality, the emails are phishing scams that try to get the recipient to click a link (which could contain malware) or give personal information (such as payment details).

If you or someone you know receives a suspicious email, there are a few things you can do. First, look closely at the email to see if it has any errors, or if the email address looks suspicious. Next, contact the sender directly and ask if they sent the message. Finally, report it to your school’s IT department so they can warn other students. 
For more information, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s blog.

 


eStatements - Be Prepared

You never know when you might need to refer back to one of your bank statements, and if you’re still using paper statements, it could be hard to track down the piece of mail that arrived months ago. With eStatements, you can access past statements (up to 16 months) anytime you need them! 

Whether you need past statements for tax purposes, to finance a home, or for other purposes, you can access your most recent statements from home, work, or anywhere that you can log in to Online Banking.
 Plus, you can download each statement and save it to your computer so you always have access to your entire banking history. 

If you are already using Online Banking, you can easily switch today! Once you enroll, you will have instant and secure access to your monthly account statements on the first business day of the month as well as your loan bills and tax documents.

You may also have access to archived copies of your eStatements for the prior 16 months and have the ability to save electronically or print and store your eStatements for future reference. 

Have questions? Call our CustomerFirst Contact Center at 203.462.4400 during regular business hours (weekdays from 8:30am to 4:30pm).


Account Information is a Text Message Away

Need fast information about your bank account? You can easily find out the current balance, and recent transactions just by sending us a text message - no app required.

To enroll in Text Message Banking:

  • Login to Online Banking
  • Click on the Banking Service Center tab
  • Go to the Mobile Banking Box
  • Click Register for Text Banking 
  • Confirm or enter your mobile phone number, and follow the steps to complete registration

While the service is free, standard carrier fees for text messaging may apply – check with your wireless carrier.


Cash in your coin for cash or prizes!

As a result of the pandemic, the United States is experiencing a coin shortage, which is impacting local stores and restaurants. You can help neighboring businesses by exchanging your spare change for cash or prizes!

Stop by a participating location from August 5 – 15 and use our Coin Counting Machine to cash in your spare change. Then, collect your reward:

  • $.01 - $49.99: Choice of First County Bank logo item*
  • $50.00 - $99.99: $5 cash or deposited into First County Bank account
  • $100.00 & up: $10 cash or deposited into First County Bank account

Participating locations:

  • Fairfield 1312 Post Road
  • Stamford 1110 Hope Street (by appointment)
  • Stamford 2950 Summer Street
  • Stamford 1042 High Ridge Road (by appointment)
  • Stamford 275 Hope Street
  • Stamford 1980 West Main Street
  • Stamford 637 Shippan Avenue (by appointment)
  • Norwalk 660 Main Ave (by appointment)
  • Norwalk 469 Westport Ave
  • Norwalk 700 Connecticut Ave

*Selection varies by location.
Rewards offered while supplies last. First County Bank reserves the right to end this promotion, at any location, at any time, if coin goals are exceeded. U.S. coins only.


eStatements - Protect Yourself from Identity Theft and Germs

Although you may be comfortable receiving your bank statement printed and through the mail, there are a few reasons why paper statements are not as secure as using eStatements. 

eStatements can help protect your identity by being delivered securely through Online Banking. By avoiding printed statements, your personal and account information is protected from would-be mailbox thieves.

Another benefit of eStatements is touchless delivery. 
Paperless statements are generated and posted automatically, making it so no one touches them before you receive them.

If you are already using Online Banking, you can easily switch to eStatements today!

Once you enroll, you will have instant and secure access to your monthly account statements on the first business day of the month.

You may also have access to archived copies of your eStatements for the prior seven years and have the ability to save electronically or print and store your eStatements for future reference.

Have questions? Call our CustomerFirst Contact Center at 203.462.4400 during regular business hours (weekdays from 8:30am to 4:30pm).


Check In for a Cash Management Checkup

Whether you are a new customer or have worked with us for years, now is a great time to get to know all of the services we have available. To help you evaluate, you are invited to connect with a member of our team for a complimentary Cash Management Checkup.

During the call or video chat, we will take the time to learn more about your business, and your challenges. We can then discuss which tools may help streamline your cash management.

To schedule an appointment for a complimentary Cash Management Check Up, send an email to cashmgmt@firstcountybank.com or call 203-462-4379.


Get organized - Make the switch to eStatements

There are many benefits to eStatements, but one of the biggest pros is that it can help you stay organized. Instead of storing paper statements in bulky bins or filing cabinets, you can store them digitally, all in one place. 

If you need to refer back to a statement from several months ago, you can easily find it in your banking records. Plus, you can download the statements as PDFs and save them to your hard drive. PDFs make it simple to search for keywords such as “restaurant” so you can easily locate and keep track of purchases. 

Another way to keep your finances organized is to export the data from your eStatements to money management software so you can analyze your spending and create a budget.

If you are already using Online Banking, you can switch today! 

Once you enroll in eStatements, you will have instant and secure access to your monthly account statements on the first business day of the month as well as your loan bills and tax documents.

You may also have access to archived copies of your eStatements and have the ability to save electronically or print and store your eStatements for future reference.

Have questions on how to enroll or view your estatements? Call our CustomerFirst Contact Center at 203.462.4400 during regular business hours (weekdays from 8:30am to 4:30pm).