KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Alesha Bowman is bringing in new ideas to her Shop UnLESHed store, a women's plus size thrift store in Kansas City, Missouri.
"We strive to build community, build confidence and self-love amongst plus-sized women in Kansas City, and beyond," Bowman said. "It's a space where you can come in, you can feel comfortable, you feel like you belong. You don't have to worry about if we're going to have your size."
She said it is a space where women can come in and just be themselves.
"A lot of times, whatever size we are, we get so hard on ourselves about what we look like," Bowman said. "And we just want to let you know, regardless of where you are, whether you're trying to change your body or whatever the case may be, just loving where you are. Because it's the only one you have! So love it, and we want to help you style it and look good and feel good about yourself."
Due to the pandemic, Bowman, like many business owners, is getting creative.
"You know, having a brick and mortar, of course, we use social media and things, but now as people are not wanting to come out, the various restrictions that go on and off inside of the city, it's kind of hard to decipher like when's the best time to like stay open," Bowman said. "Should I just put everything online? And for me, it's honestly just meeting the customer where they are in the moment."
She said it can be a weekly adjustment in providing her customers with the service they need.
"It's an emotional roller coaster for all of us. So I think now, that's just the biggest thing, making sure that I am staying connected with them and understanding what they are wanting in the moment," Bowman said.
With increased restrictions across the metro, more customers are staying in.
"It's just pushing me to do more through social media and using our online platform as well," Bowman said."If you are a brick and mortar, I think a lot of times we get comfortable. 'Okay, I have this store they'll come in to me.' But as we're seeing, sometimes that's not always the case. It's not always possible, and then not only that, what about the people who aren't able to come in for various reasons, even if it wasn't for doing pandemic."
She said she's had customers across the nation reach out, so having more online presence has been beneficial for a number of different reasons.
"It also just allows you to service your customers in any way they feel most comfortable. And my shop isn't open 24 hours, sometimes I have to head home," Bowman said.
To celebrate Black Friday and shopping local this weekend, Bowman will be going live on Facebook and Instagram doing a "story sale" for customers.
On Cyber Monday, she's doing something new for customers: stylish outfits all in one box.
"It's like (a) mini capsule collection, so five pieces that can be worn together. You'll get a full box for $30 so it's not super expensive," Bowman said. "You can get looks that you can wear and mix and match together. And then you also don't have to worry about how to style."
Bowman wanted to share a message for all business owners during this time.
"I know we're all kind of going through it right now. Just lean into what your mission is, why you started," Bowman said. "Whether you have to do a collaboration for Black Friday where they shout you out, you shout them out, make sure we're all leaning on each other because we all have to get through this. And I want to see all of us on the other side so keep going, we got this off."
For more information on UnLESHed, visit the store's Instagram.
We've created a Facebook group, We're Open Kansas City, where members of the community can post businesses serving their community.