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When the coronavirus pandemic forced businesses to shut their doors, many owners were left scrambling to keep their enterprises afloat.
Virginia Sharp, owner of Daemarii’s Unique Boutique in Macon, Georgia, was one of them. But instead of surrendering to the circumstances, she came up with an innovative way to reach customers.
The 55-year-old, who worked as a nurse liaison for 30 years before opening her clothing boutique in 2014, began streaming fashion shows on Facebook Live featuring herself wearing the clothes, jewelry and accessories she sells.
“I’ve always wanted to be a model as a child, but my parents disapproved,” Sharp told CNN. “Even when I worked in the medical field, I chose a position where I was able to dress up for work and everyone I worked with would always tell me, ‘I’m waiting to see what you’re going to wear today.’ But six years ago I knew I was ready to have my own boutique. And now, because of these live fashion shows, my dream has actually come true.”
Every Friday since May 15, the entrepreneur and fashionista streams a fashion show with a different theme. During Sharp’s first show, a jewelry dinner date, she completely sold out.
So far she’s hosted 14 shows. Themes have included a backyard party, girls’ getaway trip, Christmas in July and even a coffee chat, featuring black, cream and sugar colored outfits.
With each new show has come greater success.
“It completely changed my business,” Sharp said. “It has made a tremendous difference in our finances. It took years for people to even know about my boutique, but after doing these fashion shows, people have actually gotten to know me and my business and what I offer so it’s gotten us so many more customers than I could have imagined.”
Turning a vision into reality
At first, Sharp wasn’t sure that her boutique could survive the widespread shutdowns and stay-at-home advisories. Closing her store meant losing customers. Even big brands with large budgets and successful sales platforms were struggling.
Still, Sharp wasn’t ready to give up. While brainstorming for a solution, the idea to stream fashion shows just popped into her head.
“The themes just come to me out of the blue,” Sharp said. “During each party, I invite the girls in, call out people’s names to make everyone comfortable, then I dress up in all the new merchandise I’m about to add in the store. I show them all the colors and how they can dress up the outfits. They can order whatever they want during the live stream.”
While Sharp does most of the work, she isn’t alone in her fashion adventure. During each live stream, one of her daughters records her while another takes orders.
Immediately after the show, the trio send customers’ invoices and begin packaging the products. Customers can choose curbside pick-up at the boutique or personal delivery from Sharp herself.
“It’s overwhelming,” Sharp said. “I’m just so happy for my business, and for myself. I have so much joy and so many happy tears. This is always what I have wanted to do, and I’m finally doing it.”
Sharp says she might even continue streaming fashion shows after the pandemic ends.