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updated: 8/11/2020 9:11 AM

Community involvement helps small business grow, survive

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  • WANDA HUNTER

    WANDA HUNTER

  • COURTESY OF WANDA HUNTERWanda Hunter and her son Joshua of Genesis Beauty Supply in Montgomery.

    COURTESY OF WANDA HUNTERWanda Hunter and her son Joshua of Genesis Beauty Supply in Montgomery.

  • COURTESY OF WANDA HUNTERGenesis Beauty Supply in Montgomery.

    COURTESY OF WANDA HUNTERGenesis Beauty Supply in Montgomery.

 

Genesis Beauty Supply opened for business in November 2018. Being an African American-owned business, my vision of opening a beauty supply store was fueled with both excitement and uncertainty about starting a business.

Prior to opening my store, I was in corporate America for 16 years. During my time in the corporate sector, I learned the importance of strategic planning and leadership, inclusivity, team building, community engagement and networking. When my college-aged son Joshua and I executed our plan to open Genesis Beauty Supply, we knew we wanted to be an integral part of the community and be involved with organizations that made a difference.

As a result of my previous experiences, I knew community involvement and becoming a member of the local chambers would be advantageous to me. I joined the Montgomery, Oswego and Quad County African American chambers. Becoming a member of the QCAA Chamber has allowed me to establish relationships with other African American business owners, marketing opportunities and to have the chamber as a valuable resource for support and advocacy. My engagement with the local chambers has generated new customers and invaluable resources for my business. Being a member of the QCAA Chamber has been highly beneficial for my business both at the onset and post opening.

Upon making my decision to open my business in Montgomery, I was welcomed by the mayor and other community leaders. The support I have received since I opened the store up to today has been encouraging. Our ability to market our business through multiple channels, including the chambers, social media and direct marketing have been beneficial both short and long term.

During the peak of COVID 19, like many businesses, we had to close our store because we were not deemed an essential business. This closure caused a loss in sales and income. Recent events in the U.S and our local communities has directly impacted my business in three key areas:

1. Our supply chain for hair and beauty products has been disrupted

2. A significantly negative impact on sales and customer counts

3. Overall business financial viability

Upon reopening, we were able to create new avenues to meet the needs of our customers. We started curbside pickup, which continues to be an option for our customers, and we began offering a free delivery service to our customers within a 30-mile radius. Both customer points of purchase were born during the COVID 19 crisis and continues to be utilized today. Our initial focus on community engagement and our efforts with marketing has allowed us to earn repeat visits from our customers.

While we are still working diligently and relentlessly to recover from the impact of being closed for two months, we continue to remain focused on meeting the needs of our customers and working tirelessly with our vendors to mitigate the shortage of products with our supply chain.

Being a small African American business became of greater importance during the recent events in Minnesota with the death of George Floyd. Now that our store has reopened, our customers frequently voice their concerns about being a person of color in American and what the recent unfortunate death of George Floyd means for us.

While support in our local community has been unfailing, the concerns of the nation are also concerning at the local level.

• Wanda Hunter is owner of Genesis Beauty Supply in Montgomery, www.genesisbeautysupply.com.