Alongside the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people ended up online seeking connections, to people, and to products and services from around the world. This new wave of online clientele led to a record high in new businesses being launched in 2020 with 4.4 million new businesses being created - the highest on record in the United States (Economic Innovation Group). These 'Pandemic Entrepreneurs' rolled out their products and services online, which has made a lot of them continue to be successful going into the new year.
Laquita Barnett is a pandemic entrepreneur. She is the proud owner of LBK Customs; a black-owned, women-owned, family-owned small business that launched during the pandemic. Named after herself, Laquita, and her two daughters Brianna and Kennedy - LBK Customs launched with the mission to create custom designs on clothing, mugs, totes, and more.
This venture is not just a custom clothing shop. Laquita wants it to be an opportunity to teach her daughters about being independent entrepreneurs. Since launching, her daughters have learned skills such as sewing, marketing, and what it truly takes to be a leader.
“It was more [about] us coming together as a family with our creative ideas and formulating a business, and at the same time, teaching my daughters how to be entrepreneurs,” says Laquita.
LBK Customs opened in March of 2020, right at the beginning of local shutdowns in the Pacific Northwest. Laquita saw this as an opportunity to grow her business and place it right where people could find it: online. “It’s something that I have always wanted to do, but I kept telling myself that I didn’t have the time to do it,” Laquita said. As the world changed around her, she described her perspective, “I was too busy with different things, and then when Covid hit, it put a different perspective in my mind and that is that tomorrow’s not promised.”
There are several benefits to running an online business. Being online has allowed LBK Customs to branch out and connect to customers from around the world. “If you see a shirt and you want it to be green instead of red or some kind of crazy color and you want it to say something different, that's what we do. We’ve gotten a lot of business from that,” Laquita notes. Even outside of the digital world, she and her children love the opportunity to promote themselves. Her daughters love to wear out their custom creations and tell everyone about their services.
“It’s more about the connection you get with the customers...” one of Laquita's daughters, Brianna said, “Us communicating about what they want. We take custom orders so I enjoy talking to the customers. It brings new ideas to the business.”
Business Impact NW has helped Laquita navigate entrepreneurship and run a successful business. “Being an entrepreneur makes me feel more powerful," Laquita said. "I’m able to be my own boss. I’m able to use my own skill sets and apply them in a way that I have never before."
Laquita feels passionate about her work and is grateful for the help of her two daughters. This venture became not only a way to turn a profit but a bonding experience for them as a family. LBK Customs continues to find success going into the new year - finding success beyond 'pandemic entrepreneurship'.
“We feel fulfilled,” Laquita said. “Just [from] that experience of putting a smile on someone's face and knowing that you made them happy.”
About the author
Crystal Barnes is a senior at Western Washington University, majoring in Public Relations Journalism. She enjoys dogs, sketching, and being outdoors. Crystal is devoted to writing about people's passions and interest and hopes that her writing inspires others along the way as it does for her.