OSWEGO, NY — With the uncertainty of companies keeping their employees, many people have started to open small businesses that allows their passions to bring home an income.
Kay Sealey is an event planner who owns a venue in Brooklyn, called Paint Your Blessings. In 2018, she began décor designs for events when clients noticed her eye for elegance.
“My artistic and creative background, which was only drawing and painting in the past. I was able to apply the creativity, when clients ask and insisted that we did the event décor for some of the events we hosted,” said Sealey.
Before opening her business, Sealey worked in corporate America for approximately 12 years. Taking a leap of faith, she left her job behind to open a daycare with her late husband and use the space for events on the weekend.
However, when they were not approved to open the daycare, they decided to use the space for events full-time, which is when Sealey found her calling. “This business chose me,” said Sealey.
Sealey found her new life as a small business owner to be time consuming but thrilling. “Sometimes it’s a little daunting with the tasks and stuff. Not having enough time for yourself in the beginning, but it’s so rewarding when you see the fruits of your efforts and the clients are so happy and pleased,” said Sealey.
Other business owners have the same belief that their creative side helped bring a form of payment beyond a simple cash transition.
Ebony Lowery lost her job when the COVID-19 pandemic first began and used her hobby to create a source of income. Lowery has been creating customized products for about five years but didn’t officially start calling it a business until after the pandemic.
“I love being of service. That is something I enjoy to do. Providing a quality service, seeing my client smile, and knowing they will have a keepsake forever is really rewarding,” said Lowery.
Lowery’s business is called The Diamond Diaries. Through Instagram requests, she sells customized party favors, ranging from personalized bottles, cups, branding, stickers, and other favors. Her end goal is to be an event planner, and this is her steppingstone into the industry.
Though creating products to make people’s moments last longer is the best part, Lowery finds the biggest challenge to be containing her creativity.
“As a creative, I have so many ideas. The hardest part is staying on track. I’m passionate about it but I need to make sure they are all executed properly,” said Lowery.
Quality service is something everyone wants, and Guiovana Jean-Pierre is proud to be a consumer who experiences that.
“I spend my money on what I feel is worth it whether it is a big or small business. When it comes to supporting small businesses, I do it for the benefit of the business and to show my support.”
Jean-Pierre is a SUNY Oswego senior, who struggled to find self-care services in Oswego County, when she first arrived. However, students on campus began to offer services, after receiving their licenses, to provide some of the things she was looking for.
“It’s nice to support people dreams and help them build their brand,” said Jean-Pierre. “I just booked my appointment with Smooth Secrets, a waxing business, currently in Oswego that is offered by a student.”
Jean-Pierre believes the growing number of small businesses is because of people’s fear of losing their jobs again due to unforeseen circumstances. And others concur.
Sealey noticed the influx of business after the pandemic and even know of people who started a new business because of the pandemic.
“A lot of people are not happy. We follow the path that is outlined for us. Go to school, get a good education, get a good job, and that does not always lead to the American dream,” said Sealey. “People are stressed out, even in corporate America when they get these amazing jobs. It’s a rat race trying to compete and stay on top of each other.”
The Diamond Diaries is one of those business started during the pandemic and Lowery faced challenges from that as well. She said she often felt tired in the beginning but does not regret opening her business.
“Everyone gets knocked down a little bit. So, keeping up the drive for sales, keeping up the drive internally to keep going. Even if you are not where you want to be in the moment is a little difficult,” said Lowery. “You never know how much you can accomplish until you try.”
Lowery finds herself looking up to big business and remembers they are run by normal people as well. She explained it is easy to just see others’ successes and think they have it easy, but that’s unrealistic.
Sealey found her best work comes from failure and said that she takes everything in life as a lesson.
“Because I have been through some really aggressive negations, I’m not easily intimated by anybody who feels they can take advantage of a minority business owner,” said Sealey. “Past failures are molding you to be your best self. Don’t be afraid to fail.”
Small businesses offer a new look on products and services. “The world needs new business for the economy to keep going,” said Lowery.