| Lansing State Journal
Some of the most impactful business owners that I know in Lansing are women. Many of these game-changing entrepreneurs began operation or relaunched their businesses in the midst of a global pandemic.
Though there are many obstacles, they persist, adapting their schedules to accommodate virtual education, scheduling meetings at their lunch break from their 9 to 5, learning new technology, writing books while children sleep and — most importantly — building community and supporting one another.
Before I visit now, I gotta look back. It all started at a kitchen table while my sista’ friend Tiffany Norde nursed her youngest baby in spring of 2019. We began dreaming and putting our words to action.
We are more than mothers, more than wives. We go beyond nurturing to creating our own opportunities and career paths.
We didn’t know then that schools would close, daycare arrangements would become scarce, financial obligations would increase while job security decreased, and our mental state would be pushed to extreme limits. With minimal access to family and friends we had to change how we did everything, including how we generated income to provide for ourselves and our families.
Deardra of Natures 92 LC, who I have had the honor of getting to know quite well, started her sea moss product-based business in the pandemic out of necessity, due to lack of child care. After struggling with hereditary hypercholesterolemia, she made the choice years ago to incorporate more holistic practices in her life — which is how she discovered the many benefits of sea moss.
Incorporated into a daily diet it is said to help with inflammation and has 92 of the 102 minerals we need in our bodies. As well striving to stay COVID-19 free, who wouldn’t want an extra immunity boost? With her business, Deardra has been able to encourage the community to try something new and provide for her family.
What should have been a temporary drop off of her son (to Michigan from New York) in order to get back surgery, turned into an unplanned relocation for Lorin Cumberbatch. And she is taking Lansing by storm.
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She not only provides esthetic services, she gives opportunities to other women like Didi who she met at The Block Market. Didi went from working at a local convenience store to a new career path in beauty in the course of several months. At the peak of the pandemic, Lorin only planned to rent a room outside of her house and she ended up opening her second studio, Skin Studio 211. Skin Studio 211 gave my business, Curlitude, its first opportunity at studio office space outside of home.
I often forget when writing, talking or speaking that I, too, am an entrepreneur.
In order to truly live I have to create. Create with my hands, create with my mind, create from my soul — to curate spaces where people share, build business and community.
In the midst of this global pandemic I have met so many amazing women who have helped me grow and become a better mother, daughter, friend, business owner and beyond.
Though each of our stories are different, one thing remains the same: Nothing can and will stop us from succeeding.
If you would like to support women-owned businesses — like Natures 92 LC, Skin Studio 211, Curlitude, Artist Aminah Lott, Tacos by Q, Spotlight Lipstick and more — visit us at The Block Market — located at the former Gibson’s Beans and Books at the corner of Capitol Avenue and Shiawassee Street in the heart of Downtown Lansing — this Saturday and Sunday (December 19-20) from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Najeema Iman is a Lansing-living creative entrepreneur, art-ivist educator, event curator and project coordinator of The Block Market.