When the coronavirus pandemic began, Rhonda Walker was working as a nursing director at a nursing home in the St. Louis area. She Walker immediately began planning an exit strategy. Because I couldn’t see my client die and her nursing staff get seriously ill. Her final straw was the day she had a stroke in early summer 2020.
During her recovery, the upstate St. Louis County native was wondering what to do next. In November 2020, Walker purchased a building in what she now calls the Grove District. creole with soul splash restaurant.
But amid the public health crisis and economic downturn, opening a Southern Creole restaurant wasn’t easy. Walker was unable to obtain a bank loan.
“I was told the restaurant industry was pretty devastated … not much, especially with the COVID pandemic and all the shutdowns,” Walker said.
Walker started the business with about $30,000 of his own savings and about $10,000 in family loans.
For many black entrepreneurs, obtaining capital from lenders and private investors is the biggest hurdle to business success. This makes it difficult for Black business owners to keep their doors open.
According to researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, the number of black-owned businesses gain It’s up about 30% nationwide since before the pandemic, and black women are behind that growth.
Some days Splash of Soul Creole welcomes heavy traffic, other days it’s less business. In order to keep the door open and the employees paid, Walker gets nursing shifts from time to time.
“I put all the money I made as a nurse back into my business,” Walker said.
Walker has been serving Creole Shrimp and Creamy Grits, Fried Catfish and Cajun Chicken Pasta since May 2021.
According to Gisele Marcus, professor of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the University of Washington in St. Louis, black women are more likely to head households and run their own businesses because they work in industries that pay less than their peers. It is said that it is becoming
“COVID has highlighted the fact that there are other options, and entrepreneurship is one of them,” says Marcus.
In St. Louis, some black female entrepreneurs started building products as a hobby before the pandemic and started their own companies when many businesses closed.
Rachel Burns takes the hobby to the next level by opening in May 2020. bold spoons creamery.
In 2017, Mrs. St. Louis started making ice cream for her friends’ gatherings. Her guests enjoyed the sweet dessert, so she began perfecting the recipe. I took it as an opportunity to go. Mr. Burns started handing out ice cream to his neighbors and getting to know his new company.
“Hi, my name is Rachel. I live around the corner and I just started this business and wanted to give you a little treat. I hope you like it. “We started taking orders online that day.”
Early on, the commercial kitchen in downtown St. Louis produced mint, goat cheese, fig and lavender ice cream in bulk and sold online and at the Tower Grove Farmers Market. And in July 2020, her ice cream was featured by Schnucks Markets as a way to support black-owned businesses in the area. Her products are now sold in over 20 local markets and shops.
Financial investment consultants attribute her success to the pandemic. Last year, the company posted almost four times more sales than her first seven months of opening.
“We’ve never been in business when COVID wasn’t part of our normal operations, so it would have been nice to see what it would have been like without it,” Barnes said. But maybe it was due to the fact that everyone was at home at the time. [the business] Possible. “
Florissant resident and entrepreneur Tiffany Wesley has also found success during the pandemic. She created Facial Her Soaps to treat breakouts due to hormonal imbalances and Body Her Creams to soothe her daughter’s skin while dealing with eczema.
“It was a hobby, a hobby, a passion for me,” Wesley said. “My daughter really inspired me and made me so obsessed with her that I was like, ‘If this is helping her, it will surely help others.'”
A few years later she started making body butters, oils and cleaners in her basement before opening up. pure vibes But she didn’t make much progress until March 2020.
“It was just perfect timing,” Wesley said. “We were in a pandemic. We were running out of soap and sanitizer.
Her company generated sales of approximately $35,000 in 2019 and approximately $85,000 in 2020. We are planning to open a store and spa in University City in 2021, and we are considering opening a second store.
As an entrepreneur, Wesley is thriving. However, I faced some obstacles at first. Wesley said that even with good credit, he could not get a bank loan at a decent interest rate. She eventually applied for grants and loans from community investors and received about $100,000.
Despite the challenges, Wesley said she sees her business as a way to inspire a generation of black female entrepreneurs in St. Louis.
“You get to see people with backgrounds similar to yours, and you can transform your community, especially if you grew up in a less resourced area, showing others what you can do. We can, we really do,” Wesley said.
Follow Andrea on Twitter. @ Dreb journalist
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