Spotlight on a Native Business: Indigenous Boutique & Spa
didn’t let COVID-19 stop them from following their dreams by opening Indigenous Boutique & Spa “in the middle of a pandemic.” The pair started the boutique on the Eastern Cherokee Reservation and has successfully managed COVID-19 safety precautions in order to serve the community. By cleaning and sanitizing between appointments and regularly cleaning common areas, along with following other CDC guidelines, Indigenous Boutique & Spa has been able to weather the trials of opening a new business during especially trying economic times.
We hope you enjoy learning more about Indigenous Boutique & Spa!
1. Tell us a little about yourself:
Our names are Jade Blankenship and Jensen Peone and we are enrolled members of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation of Washington State and have Colville, Spokane, and Eastern Cherokee heritage. We grew up on the Spokane Reservation in Eastern Washington and spent summers on the Eastern Cherokee Reservation. We live and are raising our families on the Qualla Boundary in the North Carolina mountains. We’ve brought our passion for the beauty service and empowering native women to the forefront of Indigenous Boutique and Spa.
2. How did you get the idea to start your own business?
We come from a family of entrepreneurs and artists with strong connections to their heritage and communities. Jade earned a degree in accounting from Western Carolina University and Jensen is a licensed esthetician. First and foremost, going into business was the product of a shared passion for the beauty industry. Jensen was able to offer limited services from her home and worked in various spa businesses in Washington State and North Carolina. From our growing social media networks, we each developed a strong following with Jensen showcasing her brow services and Jade working as a freelance makeup artist.
With young children, going into business for ourselves was centered around an opportunity to offer products and services we loved while building a brand that could provide support for our community and their family. Cherokee (North Carolina) is a growing community with a thriving tourism economy, and we felt confident we could build a thriving beauty and services business in the community.
3. How has the National Center helped your business?
The National Center opened our eyes to thriving Native-owned companies across the country and industry leaders who provide support to Native-owned businesses. Through participation in various events like RES, we’ve learned of the true potential for a Native-owned business and the support that was available to help these businesses thrive.
4. How has your business been affected by COVID-19?
It may seem strange as we read headlines about struggling small-businesses, business closures, layoffs, and bankruptcies to say that we opened a business in the middle of a pandemic – but that’s exactly what we did. Like many native communities, our own community has been significantly impacted by COVID-19. Fortunately, our community was well prepared to manage through this pandemic.
While the community has seen an increasing number of cases, the number of cases with adverse outcomes has been kept low. The safety of our clients, their families, and our own safety is paramount in running this business. We have been extra diligent in scheduling our clientele to allow adequate time for cleaning and sanitizing all of our facilities between appointments and regularly cleaning our boutique area. We have followed all community health guidance and have been very accommodating to rescheduling clients who have health concerns. While COVID-19 has presented numerous challenges, it has not been impossible to navigate when guidance is followed and enforced.