Oct 21, 2020 - Business

29 small business owners who proved 2020 wasn’t all bad


This roundup is really simple. It’s a celebration of some of the small businesses in Charlotte doing cool things, from expansion to pandemic pivots.

This list is just a small snapshot of all the cool local small businesses; it’s in no way exhaustive. If you are a small business owner, consider this a virtual hug from me to you; you’re a huge part of what makes this city so great. (Note: We focused this list on non-restaurant small businesses.)

(1) Shelves Bookstore

The mobile book store did pop-ups in coffee shops pre-Covid. But once in-person activities came to a halt, owner Abby Glen had to quickly improve her website and expand her online offerings. In the last few months she’s also added an audiobook subscription that functions similarly to Amazon’s audible for $14.99 a month (you get one book credit).

[Agenda related story: How to support Black-owned businesses in Charlotte]

(2) Pretty Honest Candles

It’s been so fun to see how owner Andrea Richter has expanded her business over the last several months (documented through Instagram). She’s moved production from her home to a full warehouse and is in the process of expanding her team. You can order her candles (which smell incredible) online, or stop in Vestique or Girl Tribe (and soon Mood House).

(3) Mood House

Cristina Wilson’s membership-based massage concept is opening in Dilworth soon, with guided meditation classes, an infrared sauna, and, of course, massages. Leading up to the opening, Wilson has shared free guided meditations and some massage tips on Instagram. It’s been cool to get a taste of what to expect, and meet her team before going in person.

cristina mood house
Cristina Wilson, founder of Mood House, opening this fall in Dilworth

(4) Queen City Style – Whitley Adkins

Personal stylist Whitley Adkins has a range of clients/roles in the fashion world. Like most industries, the retail scene took a hit when the pandemic broke out. She launched Fashion Forward as a way to rally the retail community and connect fashion-lovers to local businesses.

(5) Collier Barksdale Design

UGA senior Collier Barksdale lost her internship in the summer, like many other students, due to Covid. The budding entrepreneur and designer put her skills to use and started creating bespoke fashion masks. Each one is totally custom and costs $30-$50. You can order here.

(6) Phunky Grove

Husband and wife team Morgan and Michael started a tie-dye business that helps support various causes. They worked with Roof Above earlier this summer and are now working on getting hotspots for CMS students with proceeds from sales. You can buy anything from masks to sweatpants, mostly priced under $30.

(7) Sleep Baby Consulting

Founder and CEO Elizabeth King has continued to offer sleep training services throughout the pandemic. With more parents working and teaching their kids from home, she’s worked with families on getting their kids to take long, consistent naps. I don’t have children, but that sounds incredibly helpful.

(8) Fit Atelier

The local boutique fitness studio, owned by Brit Turner, has added two new types of classes and trainers to their roster with a focus on (much-needed) mood-boosting working styles. They’ve got a trampoline fitness class by Annalise Coleman and Driven, a new fitness concept meant to help you cleanse your mind and body through sweaty movement taught by Chandalae Lanouette.

(9) Lindsey Regan Thorne

The makeup artist and influencer started her beauty company Be Pretty 11 years ago. She’s spent the last 16 months or so developing a new concept that’ll launch in the coming weeks. She hasn’t revealed all of the details yet, but it’ll be some sort of virtual makeup service that helps you create a look you love and source the right products. I can’t wait.

(10) Boem

Owner Megan Orrell has been transparent about how the pandemic has impacted her business. Despite the setbacks, she opened a second Boem location earlier this month at Atherton.

(11) Girl Tribe

Sarah Baucom and Carrie Barker have been open about their business struggles these last seven months. But they’ve also been open about how it’s forced them to dig deeper. Their semi-annual pop-up shop was canceled, so instead the opened a permanent spot above their South End shop where vendors can sell their goods. And they’re opening a second Girl Tribe location in Charleston.

[Agenda related story: Local boutique Girl Tribe to open new store selling goods from 50+ women-owned businesses]

(12) Dressing Room Interiors 

Interior designer and shop owner Ariene Bethea is unstoppable. She’s gained national recognition from numerous outlets and is participating in Architectural Digest’s Iconic Home showcase. Sixteen Black designers were chosen to design the perfect room and we’ll all be able to see what Ariene came up with November 18-24 for the virtual showcase.

[Agenda related story: Redecorating? These interior design services are only $125+]

dressing room interiors shop

(13) Charlotte Lucas

Another local designer who’s on fire, Charlotte Lucas also participated in a prestigious show house in Colorado for House Beautiful. You can get a peak at the Whole Home Concept House here.

(14 and 15) The Batchmaker and Babe and Butcher

The bakery, owned by Cris Rojas Agurcia, and charcuterie delivery service, owned by Lindsay Anvik and Rob Henricks, teamed up to create the most magical box of treats. The Birthday Box has a fat slice of Batchmaker chocolate cake, along with sprinkle-coated macaroons, chocolate covered almonds, fruit, and a birthday candle. You can order it here for $25. (My birthday is November 18, in case anyone’s curious.)

chocolate cake at the batch house
The Birthday Box includes a giant slice of chocolate cake.

(16) Nedra Glover Tawwab

The local therapist is all booked for private clients, but her Instagram is worth a follow. Whether you already have a therapist, aren’t able to see one, or don’t even want one, she’s still for you. Every day she shares practical tips for moving toward a healthier life.

(17) Erin McDermott Jewelry

One of the coolest things she’s done over the last few months is launch at-home jewelry-making kits for kids and adults ($30). Previously she held in-person classes at her studio, but with people spending more time at home, she quickly pivoted.

jewelry making kit
Courtesy of Erin McDermott

(18) The Finance Bar

Whether you need help getting out of debt or just like personal finance, The Finance Bar has options for you. Their Instagram account has tons of free useful information, or you can join their members club for $15 a month. In the club, you get different tools to help you better understand your finances and reach your money goals.

(19) HairyUp

This Charlotte-based mobile grooming business allows you to book an at-home haircut with one of its professional barbers through its app (HairyUp).

(20) Battle Design Studio

Kimberly and Ryan Battle started their business just two months ago, preparing for their kids virtual schooling. They make handmade, wooden desks that can be easily stowed away. You can choose from several sizes and finishes, priced $219-$399.

(21) Chilito

Chef Chef Hector González-Mora and Sara Akhavan host pop-ups around the city, including every Saturday in Plaza Midwood. They’ve also done other creative taco-selling events like a Big Ass Nacho Pop Up and Fish Taco Pop Up. Find them at Grow plant shop on Commonwealth this weekend (no pre-order necessary, just walk up).

chilitos tacos

(22) Byrd Career Consulting – Latesha Byrd 

The career coach recently launched a membership club called the Career Chaser Club. It’s open to women of color who want to advance in a career they love. The waitlist is open now and the program officially starts in January.

Latesha Byrd
Latesha Byrd, founder and CEO of Byrd Career Consulting (image by No Signal Creatives)

(23) LaToya Evans 

Owner of her own boutique PR firm, LaToya has had an impressive workload this year. She’s currently helping with the Biden for President campaign and represents George Floyd’s family and the George Floyd Memorial Foundation.

(24) Twenty Two West 

The online handmade jewelry and decor shop just opened a pop-up above Moxie Mercantile in Plaza Midwood. You can pop in to shop and see the owner, Mary, and her team create.

(25) AquaWave Tunnel of Terror

For $22, you can get a car wash and haunted drive-thru experience in one at the Belmont AquaWave Express Car Wash. The haunted car wash is open 7 p.m. to midnight Thursday-Sunday through Halloween.

[Agenda guide: Spooky season guide: 12 haunted attractions within driving distance of Charlotte]

(26) Shades of Moss

Owner Barry Greene turned his plant hobby into a full-time business this summer. His shop, Shades of Moss, has beginner-friendly plants $6-$25. He wants to educate his customers (even those without a green thumb) on plant care and will eventually add more plants for advanced plant parents.

Full story: Here’s a look inside Elizabeth’s new plant shop. Plus: 5 plant care tips

(27 and 28) Grow and PlantBar

Grow: Built in a shipping container, the new plant shop is open 11-6 from Tuesday-Friday, 10-6 on Saturday, and 11-4 on Sunday. It’s located at 2008 Commonwealth Avenue, just walk around the back of Moxie.

PlantBar: The Dilworth plant shop opens this weekend next to Taco Mama. You can shop the shelves or attend a $35 workshop which are first-come-first-served. They’ll also eventually have beer, wine, and even mimosas.

[Full story: Trendy plant store PlantBar is opening this Saturday in Dilworth]

PlantBar Interior
PlantBar Interior

(29) Society Social 

This home furnishings and decor shop, owned by Roxy Te, has the coolest story. Roxy’s family has had furniture factories in the Philippines and Conover, NC since the ’80s. She took over the family business and added her own spin on it, specializing custom-made, bright, cheerful designs. The Atherton storefront has a huge curated selection of all things home and entertaining. Oh, and Roxy has a show with ABC that spotlights small businesses around the country.

society social atherton

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