This company beat the odds

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As the pandemic raged through the first few months of 2020, U.S. black business ownership plummeted more than 40 percent, the biggest drop in any demographic, according to the House of Representatives Small Business Committee. Among the many impacts disproportionately affecting small businesses, black business owners were less likely to have the tools to deal with mandatory closings, largely due to a lack of access to financial facilities like emergency loans that would otherwise give them a lifeline.

One of those companies that had to climb fast was Our boutique for favorite things, a company that is committed to fair trade and presents beautiful, beautiful clothing for all body shapes and sizes. Employees at the company’s two locations in Cleveland, Ohio enable customers “to look, feel, and be absolutely amazing with wearable art regardless of size,” said Dr. Lisa McGuthry, owner of Our Favorite Things, told TriplePundit.

Our Favorite Things boutique has two locations in Cleveland, Ohio.

Dr. McGuthry added, “Our clothes are comfortable, stylish and bohemian chic.” In early 2020, she had bold plans for her business to take it to the next level, such as selling in open-air markets and opening pop-up -Shops.

Then COVID-19 arrived. “As a retail boutique, we weren’t a major company, but that didn’t stop us,” continued Dr. McGuthry gone. “We created The QVC in The CLE via Facebook Live, two weeks after the pandemic broke out.”

Despite the initial difficulties, Our Favorite Things has grown. “We have gained access to 43 percent more customers and our loyal regular customers,” added Dr. McGuthry added. “We ship fair trade clothing and accessories all over the United States to Alaska and the Netherlands.”

The stores also became a lifeline for local designers as Our Favorite Things has well over a dozen products from entrepreneurs in its stores to date.

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To Dr. McGuthry’s courage, determination, and creativity came with the support of SCORE, a nonprofit that describes itself as the largest network of volunteer mentors for small businesses in the United States. Through an arrangement with the US Small Business Administration (SBA), the organization also runs programs for women entrepreneurs, operates a small business resilience center, and acts as a clearinghouse for updates to SBA funding.

Dr. McGuthry had previously worked with SCORE, which had assigned her a board of directors so she could find ways to grow her business.

That relationship only got stronger when the pandemic was in full swing. “My advisory board at SCORE was great,” said Dr. McGuthry. “I remember why I started my journey: it’s definitely not easy, but it’s worth it. The effect of giving back to my community and providing the quality products that are needed and inspiring people is what business is about. Due to our increase in sales and deliveries, we were able to hire more employees. I am grateful to my advisory board that they are available to answer questions and concerns. “

Dr.  Lisa McGuthry, the
Dr. Lisa McGuthry, the “social preneur” behind Our Favorite Things Boutique.

Part of that return was for new products. For example, our favorites found new opportunities in self-care and other products, such as the sale of masks and disinfectants. The company went out of its way to help others by giving such products to those who couldn’t afford them or who worked on the front lines. The stores also offered shipping options as well as on-site contactless delivery. And because of these efforts, as part of the QVC in The CLE, the company stayed afloat while helping to build a community.

Despite her successes, Dr. McGuthry frustration with the broader system. “I am still frustrated that we did not receive an EIDL [an Economic Injury Disaster Loan from the SBA] or ahead. We have private services that helped us through the Cleveland Growth Collaborative, but not federal aid, ”she explained. “The money didn’t get into the hands of the companies that needed it most. I won’t give up or give in. Entrepreneurship has taught me that you can find out what you’ve put in. “

In contrast to other companies that couldn’t turn around in time, Our Favorite Things has become a success story – but one that has developed despite the system, not because of it. “Today we are growing continuously as a company and building a community. I appealed our SBA loan decision and was denied again, ”said Dr. McGuthry. “There are no concrete reasons, but as an entrepreneur I am resilient, as is our team, and we will continue the growth process: learn from our mistakes and strive every day to become better for ourselves and our customers.”

Photo credit: Our Favorite Things Boutique / Facebook

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