How the COVID-19 pandemic spawned a one-woman handbag business
About a year ago, Angel Reeves was forced to resign her job at Medilodge of Farmington, where she worked as a licensed practical nurse for four years, after COVID-19 destroyed the state, claiming life and the livelihoods of many people.
The novel coronavirus pandemic had closed the school of Reeves’ 5-year-old son Cameron Sy meaning he would have to be homeschooled full time and Angel was his only option because his father was working days. The loss of income was devastating, she recalls. And she had no idea how she was going to support her son.
But “someone had to stay home with him,” the 30-year-old mother said.
Reeves said it was difficult at first to find a way to generate an income while not being able to work outside of his Westland home. Nursing was all she knew to pay the bills, and it was something she wasn’t sure she could ever get back to. So she had to come up with a plan she could count on to support her family in case nursing was no longer an option.
It was then that Haus of Sy was born. And business has been good.
Haus of Sy – the inspired name of Reeves’ son – is an online handbag store that she started, featuring two different handbag styles: a signature logo bag that’s available in colors like black. , brown, red, hunter green, lilac, hot pink, orange, yellow and navy and baby blue, and sells for $ 150; and the mini tote that comes in black, gray, lime green, aqua and two cow print designs: black and white and brown and white, and sells for $ 110.
Each handbag, designed by Reaves and made in China, is made from 100% vegan leather, Reaves said, and since its first live sale in November, it has sold more than 800 handbags. But it wasn’t until her last sale earlier this month, when the site sold out all of its inventory in 19 minutes, that Reeves said she realized she was really on to something.
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“I made just under $ 50,000 with that single drop,” she says, still amazed. “I had 250 orders and sold all 265 bags. I couldn’t believe it.
Reeves credits the content she puts out on her social media platforms – Instagram, Clubhouse, Twitter and Facebook – and the people who follow her, the key to her success. Although she has asked local celebrities to buy her handbags, most of her support comes from ordinary people who just want to see her succeed.
Reeves’ online success is a bright spot in what has been a generally gloomy year for many businesses, especially small minority-owned businesses. The coronavirus relief loans the federal government has made available to businesses have been inconvenient for many black business owners during the application process, with many more denials reported than non-minority-owned businesses , according to a report from the US Chamber of Commerce and MetLife. Two in three small minority-owned businesses said they feared having to shut down permanently, the report said.
So when Reeves threw all of her life savings into creating Haus of Sy, she admitted she was on the pins and needles.
“It was very trying at the start. I kept asking myself if I really wanted to take this leap of faith and do it, ”she said. “But, you know, I prayed a lot and manifested everything I said I wanted to have and here we are.”
Haus of Sy is not the only black-owned business to have successfully opened during troubled times. Detroit rapper Tone Tone opened Toney Island, a Coney Island restaurant with a touch of soul food, which drew huge crowds to fetch food on the east side of Detroit.
Other successful businesses that have sprung up during the pandemic include a selfie museum and event space called The Pose Experience in Southfield and Dose Collective, a retail space for small businesses to take hold. And coming to east Detroit this summer is the Neighborhood Grocery Store, the first black-owned grocery store since 2014.
Reeves, who grew up in West Detroit and attended Detroit Public Schools, said that before going to nursing school she always had a love of fashion.
“Before I had my son, I spent time as a stylist, personal shopper and even distress denim and people buy me,” she says. “I knew I always wanted to create my own fashion line, and I wanted to start with something that stood out, so I started by designing a handbag.
“But never in a million years did I think things were going to move so quickly for me. I literally shipped a bag to every state in the United States and even one to Paris. “
Reeves, who is the sole employee of her company, said she only posted a limited number of handbags on the website each time she restocked the site because at first she didn’t know. how its sales would go. And now she’s doing it to make sure she keeps orders. On Friday, Haus of Sy will hold its fourth live sale on its website, with around 300 handbags available for purchase. She said she felt sales would be as good as her previous 19-minute sale, if not better.
His supporters and clients help keep his business alive and relevant. But the key that opened that door for her, she said, was her faith in God.
“My world has of course changed in ways I never imagined, and I’m just happy that my faith is still strong enough to make me feel over it … because honestly, some days it shocks me. still I started a business during COVID. “
Jasmin Barmore was born and raised in the city of Detroit. She covers neighborhoods and communities across the city using her passion to give a voice to the voiceless. You can reach her at [email protected] or by sending her a message on Instagram or Twitter at @bjasminmare.
Detroit Free Press business reporter Chanel Stitt contributed to this report.
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