This story originally appeared on KERA News.
It’s easy to fall over the financial edge if you don’t have job security. That’s why a Dallas nonprofit is helping women create their own path to employment.
The YWCA’s Women’s Enterprise Center launched earlier this year, and the new entrepreneurs who define it are learning a lot about the business world.
Shopping is probably the most cliché women’s activity. But picking out something new to wear, finding a killer pair of shoes – it’s actually pretty fun. It’s not as fun when you’re 6 feet tall and wear a size 12 shoe.
“It’s like wanting the last piece of pie but somebody came and grabbed it from you and you’re just sitting there like, ‘Well, I’ll just look at the plate,'” Kendra Nelson says.
In other words, when Nelson goes shopping, there’s nothing good in her size. And like most women in their 20s, she doesn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on special orders and she doesn’t want to shop exclusively at plus size stores.
Lucky for Nelson, she’s pretty handy with a needle and thread.
“So what I’ll do is, I’ll go buy it and then I’ll adjust it to fit me,” she says. “And put the pieces together that represent who I am. I’m fun, carefree, so this is going to represent me.”
Since she was already sewing and altering her own clothes, Nelson had a thought. Why not go into business? That’s how she found herself at the YWCA, home of the Women’s Enterprise Center. The program helps low to moderate income women develop a small business plan and prepare to launch that business.
“So it’s a 60-hour commitment plus homework in between,” says YWCA CEO Jennifer Ware. “So we want to be sure in order for you to be successful that you really have the time right now with all that’s happening in your life.”
Since the program launched in February, close to 50 women have learned about small business tax code, budgeting and ordering, among other things. Getting startup capital together is part of the deal too.
“We do have a match savings program that can be used for businesses. If you save $2,000, we’ll match that with $4,000 that goes toward purchasing the assets that you need,” Ware says.
Assets like a website, business cards, a hair salon chair, whatever it takes. Kendra Nelson is in the early stages of launching her project. She wants to start an online boutique, and eventually a brick and mortar store, that caters to curvy, stylish women.
She’s already got a name for the business: Beautiful Disaster.
“No matter what you go through in life, your storm could be like Hurricane Katrina. But at the end when the rebuilding comes, there’s beauty that comes out of it,” she says.
And Nelson’s been through a lot. She had a stroke at age 26 and had to re-learn how to talk. She’s 29 now and works at CVS where she was just certified as a pharmacy tech. She’s fine with that today. She says Beautiful Disaster Boutique is her tomorrow.
“This is what I want to be my life,” she says. “I want to leave a legacy behind of stepping outside the box and not being afraid to take chances. Not being afraid to be yourself.”
There’s probably no danger of that with Nelson, who says she’s most comfortable talking business in 6-and-a-half inch heels.