Shudian Lewis reopens door to business after losing job
Tamara Bailey, Gleaner Writer
She sat in her chair around the counter contemplating her next move; she had a family to care for, bills to pay and the only main source of income for her was about to become non-existent. 'What should I do?' was the question on her lips for quite awhile until the inspiration came to open her very own store.
Thirty-one-year-old Shudian Lewis had been putting money aside for a 'rainy day' for months, with no thought that it would be used to secure the same building she had worked for years, for her very own store.
"The Ink Store was right here in this very building, if someone had told me that I would have a little store here in the future I would not have believed them. It was not long after the Ink Store was closed and the space cleared that I consulted with the landlord and made my first deposit," said Lewis.
The less-than-one-year store, K&S Toddlers and Beyond, which offers a wide range of clothes and must-have baby items, came out of the need to provide convenient shopping for mothers and soon-to-be-mothers who pass by frequently.
"If you realise, the store is right next door to the hospital and not far from the clinic. On a daily basis, several mothers and soon-to-be moms pass by this side, some looking for baby items and others just happy to know this kind of convenient shopping exists."
Though business is currently slow with the downturn in the economy, Lewis is still very much grateful that she has a support system around her to help motivate her for future undertakings.
"You know I had planned to use the money I had saved to start a taxi business, but that didn't work out, and I know now for sure that this is the plan God had for me. I could not have done this without my supportive husband who was instrumental in doing the first set of shopping overseas and having the items delivered here. I have to acknowledge also my good friends, Ms Wright and Ricardo, and my grandmother who have never left me out."
With her most challenging moment being her inability to make enough to cover bills and overhead expenses at times, Lewis said the joy on the faces of the parents when a child is brought in for a fitting is what keeps her going.
"The feeling is second to none. I don't know if it's because I have a love for children, but each time I see a child dressed in their smart little outfits and a mother leaves my store satisfied, I am just overwhelmed. This business has taught me how to appreciate customers no matter what and I'm just amazed each day at what good customer service can do."
Lewis, who has since, upon request, added a few adult clothing to the goods offered as well as refreshments, said she will do anything she can to maintain her relevance in business.
"You have several competitor, and it will get hard, but you have to ensure at the end of the day that people want to come to your store for at least one thing. I try to make it a one-stop-shop, something for baby, a little something for daddy or mommy and, of course, with affordable prices.
Lewis hopes the business will one day grow to see branches open in Christiana, and Junction, and Santa Cruz in St Elizabeth.
Photos by Tamara Bailey