I am amazed, in awe, and inspired by the way many nonprofit leaders – many of whom are women – are leading their organizations through the uncertainty brought on by COVID-19. So much so, that I’ve decided to do a special series about Nonprofit and Small Business Executive Women who are living in the trenches, working to keep their nonprofit running, and doing critical work to continue to serve individuals and families during this crisis. I’m curious about their work and the people they’re serving, their biggest concerns, and how they are taking care of themselves and those around them. So I asked!

Barbie Turner, Be The Boutique 

Barbie Turner opened her store, Be The Boutique, in early 2008 with a mission to match YOU with the perfect gift for a friend or family member (and maybe a little something for yourself, too!). She strives to be the go-to neighborhood store for home, clothing, and gift items. Her store at 56th and Illinois has everything from eclectic clothing, shoes, jewelry, handbags, accessories, household items, and gifts for all ages and occasions. She’s passionate about providing an enjoyable shopping experience to her customers and a place where people can have fun shopping and finding things they love.

Q.  Who are you serving and how are you serving them during this crisis?
A.  We are a neighborhood boutique serving, among others, residents at Meridian-Kessler and Butler-Tarkington. On a daily basis, the shop is bright, cheery, and just an environment that makes our customers happy. So, we are trying to be that and more to our community during this time. Because so many of our customers live close and since we are small and local, we truly can offer a “happy and safe” place to shop. Our customers still need gifts for birthdays, babies, graduation, anniversaries, etc., so we are trying to be that place where they can find almost everything. We also provide our customers many ways to reach us if we aren’t in the shop. Our website is updated daily with new products, we personally deliver, or ship orders, and we provide our personal phone numbers to anyone who wants them!

Q.  Have you added, changed, or deleted any services because of COVID-19?
A.  Well, unfortunately, customers can’t come in and shop like they used to. But, if they are comfortable and want to schedule a time to come in, we do take appointments. Although we’ve had our website for more than 2 years, we’ve recently taken great care to make sure it’s up-to-par. We celebrated our 12th anniversary this week (April 26) and instead of having parties in the shop each day, we scheduled live events each day on Instagram. We are also scheduling Zoom Shopping Parties!

Q.  What are your biggest concerns right now?
A.  My biggest concern is the health and well-being of our world right now! I realize we aren’t saving lives at Be, but we are trying to bring happiness to our customers’ lives! And, of course, I’m worried about our little shop and if we’ll make it. It’s hard enough in normal times, so this just exasperates everything! Can I pay my employees? Can I pay my rent? Can I afford to bring in new inventory? I’m a single mom, with a daughter in college, so other questions enter my mind like…can I keep my house…how I will pay for college, etc.!

Q.  How are you taking care of yourself, your staff, and your clients?
A.  I am someone who needs to wake up with a purpose. So, I just decided that I am going to work harder than I’ve ever worked, ask for as many favors as I need to ask for, and push forward with a vengeance! This little shop is taking care of me, by giving me a purpose during this time! I’ve been able to retain one employee and she’s been working her tail off keeping the website fresh. I take wine to another employee regularly and sometimes stay and drink it with her just to stay in touch with her. 

Q.  What is your biggest need right now and how can people support your organization?
A.  My biggest need is for people to shop and don’t stop! My one-liner during this time has been…if you can, please do!

Q.  What are you reading, watching, listening to, or doing to get through this?
A.  I’ve been waking up every morning, closing my eyes and listening to the song “The Prayer,” then I read my Jesus Calling. Besides that, I’ve been too busy to clean, start a new book, exercise – everything I feel like others are getting to do right now! Of course, I sometimes have Bravo on for background noise!