Zoet Beauty Supply
Dana Hawkins and Charis McWhorter are the owners of Zoet Beauty Supply in metro Atlanta. The ladies both have a background in business and always wanted to become entrepreneurs to provide a platform to help their community and create financial freedom for their families.
Their journey to opening their business started in 2016 when Dana and Charis would spend countless hours going to different beauty supply stores to find the products they needed. They discovered that many of the store owners weren’t as attentive to the needs of their customer base.
“Less than 10 percent of beauty supply stores are owned by African Americans. Yet we purchase most of the products in that sector,” Charis said. “We were inspired to help close that gap and become retailers instead of simply customers.”
The ladies opened their first store in 2019 with the goal to provide opportunities that give access to affordable products and services that make people feel beautiful and empowered from the inside out. A second location opened at The New Black Wall Street in 2021.
Dana and Charis knew about SBA programs for years, but it wasn’t until the pandemic that they decided to pursue SBA assistance. After mandated government shutdowns and quarantines were implemented, the ladies turned to the SBA to help keep their business running. “SBA loans helped us meet payroll and take care of day-to-day operations while we focused on expanding our product selection outside of what we normally offered,” Charis said.
With payroll secured for their employees (they began with 1 part-time employee and now have 6) Dana and Charis were able to focus on how to expand their offerings during the pandemic.
“Instead of just providing beauty supply products, we started to carry PPE as well. We were able to meet our needs and grow the business by providing PPE for day-to-day consumers, healthcare professionals, the National guard, state governing officials, and more,” Charis said.
Dana and Charis continue to work with SBA staff on procurement, contracting, and financial counseling services. When asked what advice they’d give other businesses looking to work with the SBA, Charis stated, “Be open and flexible. Not every program is the right fit for every person or business, but the SBA pretty much offers something for every small business. We’re a living example.”