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WEB EXCLUSIVE It takes strength, determination and stamina to be a local business owner—an inspiring feat that deserves a round of applause for all who have the courage and grit to take it on. There are several females in Raleigh’s retail industry who have made a name for themselves with their businesses, proving that hard work pays off—and our city is all the better for it.
In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re shining a spotlight on exceptional Raleigh females over a plethora of industries each week. These fearless females are leading the way in their industries, making a difference in their communities and serving as an inspiration to others who aspire to do the same.
This week, we’re shouting out some of the resilient women in Raleigh’s retail industry who have grown a dedicated following and keep customers coming back for more, time and time again.
Whenever you need a gift—whether it’s for yourself or someone else—you’re gonna want to head to DECO Raleigh, the shop that Raleighties turn to the most. Blondin curated DECO’s collection from more than 80 local artisans and makers, helping them highlight and grow their brands in the process. In 2018, she expanded DECO with a new storefront Downtown, allowing her to showcase even more unique local finds. Before founding DECO, Blondin worked in nonprofit management, connecting people and organizations, and continues to support local charities today.
Kayla Walker, Janeyce Flager and Jasmine Bullock
This trio of inspiring ladies started Black Friday Market in December 2020 in an attempt to give Black-owned business owners whose brick-and-mortars were forced to shut down during the pandemic a space to sell their work Downtown. The retail store offers everything from clothes and jewelry to beverages (including coffee and tea) and preservatives to furniture, art, sculptures, health and wellness products, and more. During the pandemic, they also worked with the Black Flea Market and BlackDollarNC—a Black-owned business directory with a rolodex of over 200 businesses in North Carolina—to host events and further shine the light on Black business owners.
The clothing, accessories, gifts, etc. that Sexton sells at The Flourish Market have a greater purpose than making you—and your home—look fabulous. She partners with more than 50 brands from all over the world—from Raleigh all the way to Nepal—that provide dignified jobs and fair wages to artisans and makers in vulnerable communities, allowing customers to use their purchasing powers for good. Sexton also offers programming at Downtown shop and a women’s co-working space The Locality.
What started as a personal mission to create the ideal pair of jeans resulted in a nationally beloved high-quality denim brand for Yarborough and fellow Raleigh Denim Workshop co-founder Victor Lytvinenko. The pair sources denim from local mills and specializes in intentionally produced small-batch handmade jeans and clothing. The attention to detail makes Raleigh Denim’s jeans unparalleled—and wearing them will give you the confidence to do almost anything.
In 2012, George, a graduate of UNC-Greensboro’s business school, traded her 9-to-5 job for one that would allow her to showcase her creative side, and, with the help of her mother Margaret, The ZEN Succulent was born. Originally an Etsy shop, The ZEN Succulent now occupies two storefronts—one in Raleigh and the other in Durham, where Geroge’s thoughtfully made terrariums, planters, stands and hangers bring a much needed breath of fresh air into the homes of many.
Inspired by a mission trip to Rwanda where Heise was introduced to an artisan group that took women working in the sex indsutry off the streets, Designed For Joy provides a transitional work experience for women overcoming trafficking, homelessness, time in prison, addiction and other vulnerable situations. Purchasing a bag, piece of jewelry, scarf, home decor item or anything else offered at Designed For Joy helps provide the women who work there with a living wage that will help them provide for themselves and their families.
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