The West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce recently named SoSis the 2019 SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR and we couldn't be more honored, humbled and down right excited about it.
We were able to celebrate among so many in our community at the Chamber's Annual Banquet on February 4, 2020. It's always fun to share our story with new faces and extra encouraging to hear the kind words so many shared with us.
SoSis launched as an online-only women’s boutique in October 2014. We put our passions together to create something we could both be proud of – all from Chelsey's spare bedroom. Annie Claire, with her love for fashion and jewelry creation; and Chelsey, with her enthusiasm for marketing, digital advertising and branding; joined forces to create a brand bigger than ourselves.
SoSis stands for Southern Sisters. We have and still do call each other “sis.”
Being from Marksville, Louisiana, we know the power of small business. Our grandfather started the trend with Raymond’s Department Store – a men and women’s clothing store where we both worked alongside our grandfather every summer since we can remember. It didn’t stop there. Our grandmother started Germean’s Flower Shop in 1958 and our mom and dad took it over in 1988. To this day, we both join our parents in the flower shop on Valentine’s Day because with a family business, on the busiest day of the year – it’s all hands on deck!
SoSis joined the West Baton Rouge community officially in 2016 as the first tenant to open in The Village at Huns Grove – a development owned by Tony and Paula Clayton. Before our storefront was even open, we met with Sharon and joined the Chamber.
It didn’t take long for us to engrain ourselves in West Baton Rouge. We started by planning events for our shopping center. Art and Wine Walks, Live Music Nights, Kids Carnivals and more. This turned into a desire to connect more with the small businesses around us. In 2018, we initiated Small Business Saturday alongside countless business owners encouraging our community to Shop Small, Shop the Westside.
From there, a bond was formed with a handful of boutique, fitness studio and restaurant owners. Together, we formed the West Baton Rouge Small Business Council – a group of small business owners who initiate events and marketing efforts to lift up and promote small business in our area.
The Westside Shopping Extravaganza was the brainchild of this group. In August of 2019, the West Baton Rouge Small Business Council hosted this first-time event and it blew every goal out of the water. More than 500 people attended, 30 small businesses participated and overall, every person in the room was happy with the results. This one event impacted the bottom line of countless small business owners that month and that is what “collaboration over competition” is all about.
When one small business succeeds, we all do!
Showing local love for our community comes first at SoSis. In 2019, we launched our “Local Love Collection” – a series of custom-designed T-shirts for every local school in our area. A percent of all proceeds from the sale of these T-shirts is donated to the local high schools. Our 2019 donation was modest after a small launch, but this is one area we hope to grow in 2020 and beyond.
We aren’t stopping here! Our vision for the Small Business Council is even bigger and we know they can get it there with so many powerful business owners alongside them.
But more than all that – we hope to continue to work through SoSis to become better citizens of West Baton Rouge, stronger female business owners, present mothers and wives, and unwavering, unbreakable sisters.
Words written for our acceptance by yours truly, Chel.