Nakia Husbands had been seeking employment for more than a year with no sign of success when she decided to open her own business.
Husbands, a native of Oak Park and DePaul grad, also decided that her enterprise would be a consignment boutique. She opened the store in October in Oak Park, finding an affordable location just off the Eisenhower expressway on Oak Park Avenue and Garfield.
Seandra’s Consignment Boutique sells church and evening wear, as well as business attire. Husbands’ gets her merchandise from individuals or groups. And similar to other consignment shops, she splits the profits off any sales with the individuals. Initially, Husbands and her friends provided merchandise for the store. Today, more people from around the neighborhood are bringing in items for her to sale.
After meeting with individuals looking to sell in her boutique, Husbands then determines whether those items are sellable. And she always makes sure to ask the individual how much they are hoping to receive.
“If I believe that what they are expecting to get is too high, I won’t accept it, because I know I wouldn’t sell it for that much,” she said.
Husbands agrees to keep the merchandise in her store for 45 days. If it sells, everyone makes a profit. If it doesn’t, she donates it to a church or to The Women’s Alliance Organization, a national organization that provides professional attire to low-income women.
Husbands ended up launching her shop amid her own professional setback. Her last job in the accounts payable department at Follett Hire Education ended in 2008. Before that, she worked for a company that was bought out and its workforce outsourced to another country. Husbands then went back to school to receive her certification in project management.
“That pretty much got me nowhere,” she recalled. “That’s when I decided to put most of my energy into opening my store.”
Husbands said that business slowed during the winter and mainly came from people who happened to walk by the store. Business has been able to pick up greatly this month, she said. In fact, she’s done better in the month of March than she did in her first four months combined. Husbands’ believes it’s because she’s steadily getting the word out. But this spring and summer, she said, will be the true test of her boutique’s survival. Still, she’s optimistic.
“I put flyers in the cleaners, the hair salons, the currency exchange, and, of course, I emailed all my friends and had them email their friends,” Husbands said. “If business has done this well in March, I know, with warmer weather, it has to be better.”