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From homeless to business owner: Milwaukee mom prepares to open her own store

Posted: 10:20 AM, Feb 03, 2020
Updated: 2020-02-04 20:10:51-05

MILWAUKEE — A Milwaukee mom said she went from being homeless to becoming a business owner, thanks to hard work and a dream.

Mardrease Hopgood said her first memory of fashion was playing with Barbies.

"Me and my sister used to cut up the little towels and sheets and stuff like that and make Barbie dresses," said Hopgood "My mom couldn't afford to get us the clothes for the Barbie dolls so I was like that's fine I'll make it."

Hopgood didn't go to school for fashion. She had a full ride to Alverno College, where she planned to study medicine.

"My first semester I got pregnant with my son and I'm like, 'I don't even want to be in the medical field anymore,'" she said.

She got a steady job as a bus driver while learning fashion on the side.

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"Just my Walmart $35 sewing machine, we're just going to start there," said Hopgood.

She took a job transfer to Georgia and that's when things took a turn.

"We're working maybe like a week or two and then they come and pull everyone into the office and saying like they're closing down," said Hopgood.

She couldn't find work.

"I'm sitting in the car like crying because I'm like I can't believe I came this far to have it all ending," said Hopgood.

She couldn't pay her rent.

"I'm upstairs, I'm watching the landlord, the property management company come up to the door every day, put one day notice on there and then another one," said Hopgood.

Then Hopgood found out she was pregnant with her second child. She packed up and moved back to Milwaukee.

"We were sleeping on floors," said Hopgood.

Then she spent months sleeping in her car.

"Now, I'm absolutely lost," said Hopgood. "It's like I have my son, I'm pregnant, I can't believe I'm looking for change in the car for my son. I can't believe it and so I'm like no, we're going to change- to change the narrative."

Hopgood got her old job back. She saved up for a better sewing machine. Her kids helped model her work and she started holding pop up shops at Mayfair Mall. People loved it.

"They were more excited than I expected them to be," said Hopgood.

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She made $4,000 her first weekend.

"I'm like wait this is serious."

So serious, Hopgood is now about to open her own kids' clothing boutique called Widdo Kiddo.

"My slogan is 'Moms Know Best' because we do," said Hopgood.

She now leans on manufacturers to design and make her inventory.

"I still jump in there and get stuff done when I need to get it done," she said.

The grand opening for Widdo Kiddo at Mayfair Mall is March 1. You can learn more here.

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