During the pandemic, business owners are finding ways to stay afloat in their business and to maintain their clientele. Some are finding ways to keep the books intact while also trying to encourage and uplift their communities. One businesswoman is doing just that.
Tia Whittington, an owner of the local Louisiana store, Shop H Kyle, has made a difference one scripture and one nurse cap at a time. Tia sat down with me to talk about the inspirations she had to uplift her community during these scary times:
1. How are you and your family coping with the COVID-19 pandemic? As well as the stay-at-home orders in Louisiana?
For the most part, we have been coping pretty well. We have been trying to stay to a set schedule, so we are mainly up by 7:45/8 am and then do school work with my daughter, who is in first grade. My husband is a high school assistant principal, so he has to show up to conference calls, Zoom meetings, and sometimes in-person meetings with his staff.
The stay at home order has worked well for us mostly. We spend a lot of time outside playing, and we try to limit our grocery shopping once a week.
2. How has it been running your business during this pandemic?
So the overused term right now has been pivot, lol. I have had to hone in on how I do my business, but mostly not too much has changed. Since I am trying my best to follow the orders set forth by our Governor, I suspended curbside service. So we have been offering free shipping via our website, and I have been doing home delivery to my local customers. But between you and me, that’s something I’ve always done. I just never felt the need to publicize it.
3. What inspired you to create your t-shirts? What was the initial reaction when your audience saw the product?
My business started based on t-shirts. That was the original product that I sold – custom tees. The clothing just got added in at a later date because it made sense. The ‘I will not be shaken’ tee came about because it was a phrase that I kept repeating to myself that week over and over. I’m known for doing some tongue in cheek tee in response to world topics but knew this one would be different for me. I did not expect the overwhelming response that ensued! Within 10 minutes of me posting the actual design of the shirt, I had gotten 20 orders, and I was like, “Thank you, God!”
CC: Tia Whittington’s IG page
4. Will you make more inspirational products? Did this start a new trend for your company?
I definitely intend to keep the shirts coming. I am now on my third one design, a sweatshirt along with the tee. Most people are purchasing both. My customers are calling it the “Quarantine series.”
5. What prompted you to give back and to purchase the nurse caps? Why start the Frontliners’ Project?
Sometimes you have little nudges. It started because my best friend is an ER nurse at Ochsner in Kenner. She was anxious because she didn’t have a scrub cap and couldn’t find any. Say no more. I drove to a uniform shop that I knew was open and found her the type that she needed. I posted a video about getting her the caps and started to get several requests and people asking if I was taking donations because they wanted to contribute. One of the vendors that I use for one of my pharmacies had scrub caps in stock, so I was like maybe I CAN do this. Once one of my other friends informed me of who’s an ER nurse at Ochsner in Baton Rouge for an immediate need of scrub caps, I knew I had to do something!
CC: Tia Whittington’s IG page
6. How many nurse caps did you give? To what hospital did these caps go to? Have others reached out to start something similar?
I gave out 40 caps. My customers donated all. They went to Texas Children’s Hospital, Our Lady of the Lake, Dutchtown Urgent Care, Ochsner Clinic Kenner, and Ochsner Clinic Baton Rouge. Nurses have reached out for me to do the project again, but finding scrub caps are very scarce at the moment.
7. How do you feel your community or your state has given back? Have you seen other boutiques and small businesses do their part as well?
My customers have been very supportive during this time, supporting all the different initiatives that I have started, such as the Frontliners’ Project, the scripture tees, and giving back through the Front Porch Project. Ellen Ogden of Ello Ogden Art was gracious enough to come to paint my front window at my boutique to bring some joy to the community as they drove by.
CC: Shop H Kyle Instagram Page
Moxi Boutique did a great job with the owner celebrating her birthday by giving her customers 26% off and then taking that percentage and feeding the Labor and Delivery nurses at Women’s Hospital twice. Also, Rebeeca at Reb’l Creative has given over $6,000 to different food and diaper banks around the area.
8. What word of advice would you give to others to reach out to their communities?
Just start. Any bit of help that you can give someone, big or small, helps and will always be remembered.
Content courtesy of Lara Ashley, Founder and Editor of Brenley Magazine, Redefining what it means to be a Southern belle; an online magazine that helps women wear their crowns with grace.
CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR, LARA ASHLEY
Lara Ashley is a multifaceted journalist, she obtained her Mass Communications degree at Southern University and A&M College and is obtaining a Master’s degree in Magazine Journalism in the U.K. from Cardiff University. When she’s not watching her fav reality shows (LOVES the Real Housewives franchise), spending her afternoons watching Netflix or with a good book, she’s writing and journaling.