When I opened my shop, Sassy Boutique, in mid-2019 in the Crilley Warehouse with my business partner, Sarah Bryen—owner of Old City Marketing, LLC — neither of us really knew what to expect. It was the first foray into brick-and-mortar for both of us and my first experience owning a business. Our attitude from the get-go: we’re taking our shot and whatever happens, it’s going to be an adventure.
Nothing could have prepared either one of us for… you know, the end of the world! It certainly sounds cooler if I describe it that way — and sometimes it even feels that way—but despite the toll COVID-19 has taken on Sassy and countless other small businesses, I often find myself comforted by the age-old adage, "this, too, shall pass."
In the meantime, my partner and I have had to find ways to get creative in pivoting our business model to adapt to the crisis. We’ve been working on restructuring and redesigning our website to take direct orders online with a user-friendly interface. We’ve begun offering contactless pickup and delivery within Alexandria free of charge and shipping anywhere in the country for a flat fee!
Perhaps the most novel concept was the introduction of what we like to call “designer face masks.” We reached out to our friends John Otsuki—owner of Creative Cause Solutions in Harrisonburg, VA—and local bartender Michelle Hamo (Brabo’s). Both of them have worked very hard to create masks in a variety of cute cuts, colors, and patterns—including leopard, floral, camo and more!
John donated the first batch of masks he made to his local community in Shenandoah and the proceeds from his GoFundMe provided much needed support to workers he had to furlough due to the crisis. Meanwhile, Michelle, a valued member of our local service industry—all of whom have been deeply affected by COVID-19—has put her killer seamstress skills to good use by partnering up with Sassy.
Nothing about this is easy, but we’re all getting by with a little help from our friends. I feel like I’m relearning the meaning of the word “community” as we’re all leaning on each other a little extra right now—and it’s a beautiful thing. -Abby Wolverton
Though this will all be over soon, you may as well look cute in the meantime. So come buy a mask and support small businesses! It’s our way of adapting so we can see your beautiful, sassy selves on the other side of this. I would say something about “making lemonade,” but I’ve used up my clichés for one editorial. Instead, I’ll quote my good friend Jeanette and say, “when life gives you lemons, lean into the bounce!”
Sassy Boutique | Crilley Warehouse Executive Offices
218 N Lee St. | Suite 107 | Old Town Alexandria
Story by Abby Wolverton | Photography by Giovanni Tario | As published in the May 2020 issue of VIP Alexandria Magazine