By: Waddell Howard Jr.
Renee’s Boutique, an African-American owned business based out of Charlottesville, Virginia started with an idea from its owner; Crystal Renee Napier is providing figure flattering clothes for the working woman, the everyday woman, the glamour girls, and those aspiring to look their best for any opportunity that presents itself. This idea has now catapulted into the cross collaboration with other diverse entities and other African American owned business to become a pillar within the African-American community.
Whether locally, Charlottesville, Waynesboro, Nelson County, Richmond, or nationwide such as Georgia, Massachusetts, or New York Mrs. Napier shows up to various venues and collaborates with other business owners to showcase, sell, and provide the customer with a lasting and fulfilling experience of the Renee’s Boutique brand. The experience is just as rewarding for Mrs. Napier as it is the customer. Often times, Mrs. Napier is able to share and receive ideas from other African American business owners in the local area that will not only help to build her business but also lasting networks and friendships. Some examples of this cross-collaboration are her interactions with Freda Jackson’s “Freda’s Skin Studio” located in Waynesboro VA. Mrs. Napier has collaborated with Mrs. Jackson on several occasions with events and pop-up shops set up at Mrs. Jackson’s spa, Freda’s Skin Studio. Both of these ladies provide women with products to enhance women’s beauty and help them feel good in their own skin.
Victory EveryWear, owner Marcus Brewster is another African-American business that Mrs. Napier collaborates with because both of their brands are uplifting and encouraging people to love themselves and feel confident with who they are. 29 Consign, Cassandra Philpot-Rademacher operator and owner, retail store located in Ruckersville, VA, that showcases styles of Renee’s Boutique. Once again Mrs. Philpot-Rademacher overall mission aligns with Renee’s Boutique in providing quality and affordable clothing within her community. Mrs. Napier has showcased African-American local fashion designers in her online boutique and provided exposure for their talents and products.
This cross collaboration between these African-American owned entities not only benefit the community, but it delves deep into the great wells of time where African Americans built great communities of commerce despite barriers, agitation, and sociopolitical strife. There are glaring and specific examples of the involvement of many African Americans in commerce, industry, and business development. A clear example of this type of cross collaboration is, George Washington Carver pairing with Henry Ford to find an eventual substitute for gasoline, and to explore the production of ethanol (or grain alcohol) as an alternative fuel. In 1942, to help with the rubber shortage, Carver would showcase a car with a lightweight plastic body made from soybeans by experimenting with different crops, including sweet potatoes and dandelions, eventually devising a way to make the rubber substitute from goldenrod and plant weeds. Henry Ford made repeated trips to the Tuskegee Institute to enlist the help of George Washington Carver to come to Dearborn Michigan to help him with these ideas along with mass production efforts. Carver’s contributions and innovations with the industrial industry through his methods with his plants is the reason why many believe that many industrial, mass production facilities are called the “plant”.
The continued collaboration and economic progress both past and present should be an example to ignite and invigorate many members of the African American community to create, innovate, and maintain commerce throughout our neighborhoods and throughout our nation. In a sense this is a salute to a job well done for our current African American owned businesses who are servicing our communities as well as a call to the patronage that will help to continue this success.