We had the good fortune of connecting with DeAnna Allen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi DeAnna, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
My business helps the community by providing a platform for other local small business women of color an opportunity to retail their products inside of my storefront boutique. When I purchase their products wholesale, and retail them inside of my store, they receive access to a wider audience and have increased exposure to potential new customers who desire to shop and support local, small businesses within their community and beyond.
What should our readers know about your business?
While I have owned and operated other businesses in the past, The Brown Sugar Collab is my passion project because it helps other women! The Brown Sugar Collab houses over 20+ brands owned by minority women, and the number continues to grow. I love that I am able to build and nurture relationships with my vendors, and can truly say that I know the persons behind and can truly say that I know the person behind each brand represented. I am most excited to have the ability to provide them with opportunities that reach a far broader audience with the business partnerships I’ve established since opening my storefront. My vendors products can be found in the Charlotte Douglas Airport, as well as a local hotel located in the Uptown area of Charlotte, NC. It is my goal to continue to expand our reach across the country as well as globally.
Running a successful business is not easy, and I made a lot of mistakes along the way, before opening my current business. One of the major challenges most business owners face is not having enough working capital to help with costs necessary to operate and maintain their business. In the past, I would always use my own money to keep things going a float, often digging myself into a financial hole. This time around, I have made it a point to apply for local and federal grants available to small business owners, and raised my personal credit score so that I could obtain funding for my business. Since I have a retail storefront, it also benefits my business to work with other businesses that have 30-60 day net term policies. Basically, I can buy the products today, sell them, and not have to worry about paying until 30 or 60 days have passed.
Another big lesson learned was to stop attempting to do everything myself. For many reasons, it is helpful to have some assistance, even if that means someone is helping you with small tasks. The assistance can come from family, friends, or customers. It is so easy to become burned out and hate what you’re doing if you alone carry all of the weight. Doing everything yourself is not healthy or wise, and is stressful!
Finally, the biggest lesson learned as a business owner is to be flexible! Things don’t always go as planned, and you have to be prepared for that, otherwise this thing called entrepreneurship will bury you alive.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If my best friend were visiting Charlotte, we would have brunch at La Belle Helene, and dinner at my favorite Ethiopian restaurant E’Nat. I don’t drink, but if I did, Lincoln Street Kitchen and Cocktails would be my first choice. She loves museums, so visiting the Mint Museum is a must. We would also visit the quaint Pauline Tea Bar-Apothecary. On an early Saturday morning, we would go to the different farmer’s markets and pop-up shops.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would love to shout out Megan Liddle Gude, Southend’s Vice President of the Charlotte Center City Partners. Megan has been a wonderful resource and continues to be a pleasure to work with. Her role within Charlotte Center City partners allows her to not only get to know the small business owners within the community, but she makes it her mission to provide the support we need to help our businesses thrive and grow.