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Female entrepreneurs in Racine connected by cancer, passion to pursue dreams

"It's something that downtown Racine needed. We didn't have anything like it"
Posted at 7:06 AM, Nov 29, 2022

RACINE, Wis. — On Main Street in Racine, inside the doors of BePlush, a group of women is making their entrepreneur dreams a reality.

"It's something that downtown Racine needed. We didn't have anything like it," said the owner of BePlush, Yoland Coleman.

Under one roof a collective of businesses: Sheabrojae's Natural Expressions, DellaMaChris Bakery, JC's Boutique and BePlush.

"Holiday season is just around the corner. Come in, shop and get your gifts," said Joyce Cook, owner of JC's Boutique.

Joyce started her business back in 2019, selling classy and stylish handbags. She first did pop-ups until she joined another group of women.

"It helps us to feed off of each other. Two heads are better than one," said Joyce.

Fellow business owner Janela Smith sells handcrafted hair and body butter with smells of apple pie, coconut, and lemongrass, just to name a few. For her, this business has always been a passion - taking a leap of faith and quitting her full-time job to focus solely on her business.

"This is 100% products made by me and guess what, hand whipped because that's the love I put into it. When I create these products, when you put it on your skin, you can feel that love and the naturalness," said Janela.

And for Michelle Harris, owner of DellaMaChris, named after her family, she finds refuge in being creative, first starting a culinary business and then moving over to baking. She sells cupcakes, cakes, and jams.

The women came together under one roof through BePlush owner Yolanda Coleman.

"It feels good because I feel like I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing, which is serving and helping others," said Yolanda.

This is her second store in Racine and says having a collective helps with the overhead cost, but more importantly, it's helped build a support system.

"We are a happy bunch," said Yolanda.

These women work hard, connected by their passion and love of customer service. But they are also bound by something else. Each has been impacted by cancer. Yolanda is a two-time breast cancer survivor.

"We can lean on each other, lift each other up," said Yolanda.

Three of the ladies are in remission, but for Michelle, she is still going through her battle. She says it's the cupcakes and these women who help get her through those bad days.

"I make these cupcakes and I be like 'somebody's gonna be happy'; it motivates me," said Michelle.

Together, a special sisterhood has been formed, uplifting each other along the way and showing the community that with perseverance and love - all things are possible

"I believe God brought us together, and I like that we are showing other people who may have a dream that although you might have an illness, you can still move forward," said Joyce.

BePlush is located at 300 Main St. in Racine.

To learn more about the businesses, click on their corresponding links below:

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