Jewelry, body butter and clothing: These small businesses got my bucks in 2020

The ecommerce market is booming with more consumers buying things online this year to avoid heading to stores in-person. Ecommerce has grown by 129% compared to last year, and if stores weren’t running sales online before this year, they more than likely are now.

Now I’ll admit, I’m one of those people who will instantly run to Amazon for any of my needs before I take the time to search elsewhere for a better product, or even the best deal. When I say I will buy almost any and everything from Amazon, I’m talking boots, coats, vitamins, furniture, etc. — anything, you name it. But making online purchases became a lot more personal to me when the pandemic hit. Buying from small businesses this year means so much more because my purchase might not just be bringing in a few dollars, it can mean supporting jobs and helping to keep the lights on. I don’t think my small purchases from Amazon have that same effect.

When Amanda Washington was conceptualizing her business she launched last month, Hope Body & Skin, a skincare business made for people with melanated skin in mind. Washington told Technical.ly that she had a plan to leverage social media to bring her product to market.

“Social media has impacted the growth of us by honestly being our driving force between hashtags, reels and reposts from people I know. We were able to sell out twice in two weeks,” Washington said about the company’s initial launch experience. “Without it, we wouldn’t be selling product like we are.”

She decided to launch the Silver Spring, Maryland-based company during the pandemic for two main reasons, the first being the fact that this is a venture she’s been thinking about for a while. Since quarantine forced her to be still, she really honed in on creating a business plan. (She’s not alone: New business formation in the DMV is at a record high.) Secondly, she wanted to focus on something that simply brought her joy in the midst of such a rough year.

“I wanted to get into this business to give people that look like me a skincare solution that makes that them feel good internally and externally,” she said. “The name Hope derives from my mom’s maiden name, but also in this world, hope is what we need the most! When things get bad, we have to have faith and hope that things get better and will be better.”

To align with this, Washington includes a small “Hints of Hope” card with a quote in each package she ships off to keep people encouraged. She is also using the Hope Body & Skin Instagram account to not only promote her skincare products, but to publish inspiring posts for the Black community.

From Philly to California and Michigan, here are a few other women-owned small businesses I’ve made online purchases from this year:

Philly native Jeanette Lloyd, Technically Media’s former director of marketing and partnerships, has been upcycling and making products for LiveGirls Brand since 2012. She’s been handmaking and selling sprout kits, jewelry, African print garlands and plant shelves, and her operations have ramped up since the pandemic started. I was able to snag one of these garlands to add a little spice to my office, and I got to indulge in a few pairs of the Wu-Tang earnings.

Working out and getting more into healthy habits has been a new journey for me in quarantine. I’m now working out five days a week, and even though I’m only venturing to my living room to do so, feeling comfortable in my makeshift home gym has been importing to me. The one-piece outfit I purchased from Fitnessin’ has been my absolutely favorite. The fitness apparel company is run by Michigan State University graduate Arielle Tolbert. Since gyms have been closed indefinitely across the U.S., Tolbert has pivoted to offer online workout experiences for participants.

Run by California native Erica Cervantez, Grow With the Flow Designs is a direct product of the pandemic. Cervantez has always had a knack for entrepreneurship, she also runs her own photography business full time. The self-taught maker hand crafts clay and resin earrings. After gaining a solid following on her personal Instagram page, she created the Grow With the Flow Instagram handle and began doing curated earring drops on certain days via posts on the page on certain days for people to claim and purchase. I bought at least three pairs of her earrings and the quality is 10/10. I always feel so beautiful wearing them.

Who needs swimsuits in a pandemic when they don’t live near a pool? Me, that’s who. When Tabinda Sial dropped Drenched Swimwear in June, I was raving to get my hands on a few pieces and I did just that. Sometimes it can be frustrating to find swimsuits that suit your body and this is a struggle I’ve had for years, but this brand helped change my perspective. Whether you plan on safely vacationing soon or in a year, Drenched Swimwear has an array of options for stylish and classy swimsuits.

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