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Two Black-owned small businesses in Georgia win 'game changer' grants

Virginia Sharp, co-owner of Daemarii's Unique Boutique in Macon, said this money is a game changer.

MACON, Ga. — The pandemic forced small business owner, Virginia Sharp, to change how she runs her store.

She co-owns Daemarii's Unique Boutique in Macon with her husband. The shop's mission is to empower women of all shapes and sizes.

When COVID-19 hit her community, she was forced to get creative to keep her business running. She took to Facebook to host live events to show off the clothes and accessories in her store.

RELATED: Nine minority-owned small businesses will receive $10K grants

At the time, she couldn't even afford a website.

Now, she can. 

Sharp is one of only two Black-owned small business owners in Georgia to receive a $25,000 grant. The money from the Coalition to Back Black Businesses awarded the money to 25 businesses in 14 states, according to a press release.

The coalition partnered with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, American Express and the nation's four leading Black chambers to make this happen. 

Sharp said this money is a game changer for her store.

"I want to be able to expand our business and take it to another level," she said.

She plans to use this grant money to fund her website, afford new inventory and add more staff. She also hopes to expand her store to other small Georgia towns where there are not clothing stores. 

Sharp said she encourages other minority-owned small businesses to keep fighting.

"You have to carve out a new niche because it's no longer the old way," she said. "Everything is new to us. But it's going to be so worth it."

The other Georgia small business that won a grant is 4II4 Fashion, LLC. It's a family brand dedicated to honoring culture, according to a press release. 

The store's owner, Delores Williams Salley, said the store has been able to use the grant money to redesign its logo, increase inventory and increase marketing, the release said. 

Salley said they also will be preparing for London Fashion Week in 2022.