Chicago-based body-positive shop owner Chiquita White is the duly titled “Stylepreneur” whose Kiwi’s Boutique, is no longer the best-kept secret in the Windy City. Now a nationwide treasure, White talked to rolling out about overcoming COVID during the pandemic and doing her part to protect Chicago while offering up stellar service and the most unique products money can buy.
How has business been for you? How have you adjusted to protect yourself and your team?
I would say it was different because I have an actual brick and mortar, but online has always been like 85% of my business even before the pandemic. So it was a really smooth transition for me. The only thing I really had to pivot on was what I actually sold to my customers. I did apply for the PPP loan and the EIDL loan, which I was grateful for, on top of my revenue going up three times.
How did you maintain your brick-and-mortar shop through the pandemic?
Actually, I started offering curbside pickup. I did have a sign in the window letting everyone know to shop online because we were only doing in-store pickup or shipping. I also had to go through the whole riot phase in Chicago. So I had to board up to protect the business. That was a challenge. Other than that, by the grace of God, we were covered and protected.
How did you and other entrepreneurs discuss protocols of both safety and business processes?
We have a lot of different forums and groups that gave us tips to protect ourselves, our employees, and our customers. We would get on calls once a week and talk about different processes we could implement to make sure our businesses didn’t suffer.
Where were you when you first heard about the vaccine? How did you feel about it?
When I first heard about the vaccine I was actually at home watching the news. I have a phobia with needles so I wasn’t as caught up on what they were giving us. I was more worried about the injection itself. I wanted us to be able to continue to open back up so people could get back to the “new norm.” So I decided to get vaccinated myself. I come in contact with a lot of people and I think that it is unfair for them to be around me and I’m not playing a part in protecting Chicago.
When you contracted the virus what made you take the test and how have you protected yourself from getting infected again?
I lost the [sense of] taste and smell. It was in November and I’m still without taste. We make sure we’re wearing a mask, keeping everything sanitized, cleaning after every customer, and only allowing two customers in to allow social distancing.
“For information about COVID-19 vaccines in Chicago, visit www.chicago.gov/covidvax.”