COVID Comeback Story: Two North Dakotans dared to dream big during the pandemic

Good Day Dakota

This story has been corrected to remove an inaccurate statement about one of the subjects. We apologize for the error.


According to the North Dakota Labor Market, a total of 5,499 initial jobless claims were recorded in October 2020. That’s up by 145.2 percent compared to the same month one year ago.

It’s been a tough year for many thanks to the pandemic but good things are coming from it. Somehow through grit, training, and perseverance, two Bismarck residents have come out on top.

Owner of HandyMan Chumley, Brandon Chumley says, “When life gets hard, you always have to turn it around and make better of it. There’s no reason to become sad and down on yourself. There’s always some way you can make it better.”

37-year-old Brandon Chumley worked in the oilfields in North Dakota for the last 16 years
But due to shutdowns from the pandemic, he was left questioning his next steps.

Brandon adds, “What am I gonna do next? How am I gonna provide? Where am I gonna work?
I didn’t really know what to do.”

After brainstorming with his wife Katie, he realized he could use his own natural talents and abilities to provide for his family. So in August, he created HandyMan Chumley, a business that involves, well, being a handyman.

Brandon says, “I work on houses. I do a lot of refurbishments. I refinish drywall. I work on bathrooms, kitchens. Pretty much anything in the house that you need except electrical.”

Just like Brandon, Brianna Loewen says the shutdown affected her livelihood too. She’s a 28-year-old that was working as a hairstylist before the pandemic hit.

Brianna says, “Everything was good until the shutdown. Then obviously I couldn’t work anymore for about five weeks and that really was hard because I love my job.”

During that time she decided to hone her skills and recieved two certifications specializing in hair extenstions.

“It’s still one of the best things I’ve ever decided to do with my life is become a hair stylist,” says Brianna.

And it shows. Brianna says, “I took multiple classes. I was taking classes every week. Just trying to find anything I could to kind of take a bad situation and make it into a good situation.”

Whether it’s refining your skills or using your natural talents and abilities, Brianna and Brandon both say it’s up to you to create your own COVID Comeback story.

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