PHOTOS BY CHRISTOPHER CARDWELL
Our beautiful cover feature this month in Something 4 the Sistas, Dr. Deanna Kimbrel is MUCH more than just a pretty face… She is the heart, soul, and brains behind the local boutique we have come to know and love – She Says So. This lovely boutique specializes in high quality attire and accessories for women of all shapes and sizes.
She Says So began as a traditional boutique with a storefront location in the Rochester, NY area in 2009. As of 2015, the boutique has expanded to also offer an online presence. Their products have been purchased for everyday wear, formal occasions, and corporate events by people from all around the globe. One of their best tools to reach potential customers is through word of mouth from delighted and loyal customers – and HERE WE ARE!
I decided to personally visit the website, and I instantly fell in love. Such great products for an amazing price! Her boutique is filled with items that can appeal to all women. And, I don’t know about you…but knowing a business carries sizes ranging from XS to 3X (and can special order when needed) makes me more opt to shop, come back, and tell my friends and family. Such an amazing shop HAS to be owned by someone pretty amazing, right?
Well, keep reading to get to know the magnificent and inspiring Deanna. She is not only the owner of such a positive and successful boutique. She is also a mother, motivational speaker, advisor, friend, and a true inspiration to women everywhere.
Deanna was born and raised in Rochester, NY. She has a Doctoral Degree in Management in Organizational Leadership, has been teaching an Online Communication and Business Course for 10 years, and also has an impressive background in retail, communication, and marketing. She started as an entrepreneur over 10 years ago, through selling items at various hair salons throughout the city. One of her biggest accomplishments of all – becoming a mother 4 days before her 15th birthday, and barley out of 8th grade for the second time. “This is a point where I decide to set my priorities in life and pursue those relentlessly. I completed high school in 3 years, and got accepted to the University of Buffalo with several scholarships. I was named one of Rochester’s Black Scholars – this was an honor not many of my peers received.” From there she went on to receive her Master’s Degree from RIT where she delivered her second child and thesis presentation on the same day! “My water broke during presentation my presentation!”
Any woman who can deliver an important college presentation while in labor most certainly fits the description of a true HEROINE!
Unfortunately, she lost her son’s father due to violence in 2015. She had to navigate through the special education system to ensure her son had a proper and quality education after experiencing PTSD due to the loss of his father at such a young age. “I homeschooled him for 5 months. Now he’s phasing out of special education and is doing very well.” Almost a year, to the day, Deanna lost a close family member due to depression and drug addiction…
Despite her struggles and heartache, she was still able to successfully run her store, complete her Doctorate, and raise two children as a single mother. “It took me 5 and a half years to complete my Doctorate with no breaks, despite several obstacles.” She further explained that her mother was her rock during her troubling times. “My mother was a key support in getting me through each tragedy and obstacle thrown my way. I also created a tool kit to get myself through tough times – which included off brand foods, a wig, nail polish (to do my own beauty services), and Netflix and Hulu after I disconnected my cable to cut out unnecessary expenses. This helped unnecessary expenses. This helped me get through financially. I didn’t go out with friends for close to a year, and spent full days and nights at the library to complete my goals. This was also the point I decided to close my storefront and operate online only.” Strategically speaking, this seemed like the best decision for her business, given the fact that she sold products to people in almost every US state as well as Canada and the Netherlands through her online boutique. These were some of the key sacrifices she made to reach her goals and be where she is today.
The message that she always likes to leave with people, “In the face of adversity, persistence is truly key!”
She also currently works for a large local company as an Inclusion and Diversity Professional working to create environments nationally where people feel a sense of belonging in order to perform at 100% productivity. “Feeling excluded and undervalued is what led me to entrepreneurship. This same thing is also what made me want to get a Doctorate and be a driving focus toward equality in workplaces and where people do business. She enthusiastically explained she has a passion for connecting with people and inspiring through sharing her stories and experiences, “I’ve been a part of several events both locally and nationally. I’m always glad to partner up with other professionals through my work. I would have to say speaking to a group of young girls in Chicago through the Girls Who Code program last year about how to Slay Difficult Situations was one of my greatest memories.”
Deanna further explained she finds inspiration in all of the women in her life, especially her mother. “There’s a lot of women I admire for their strength and resiliency. But there’s only been a few people I’ve had the chance to observe up-close and personal; on key personal has been my mother.” Deanna doesn’t believe in having regrets, she only believes there are lessons to be learned.
“Everything happens for a reason. I think there’s always ups and downs. Being true to yourself and your work is what matters the most.”
Aside from obviously having a heart of gold, Deanna is tenacious and willing to weather any storm. “I am very ambitious, and I go after whatever it is that I want. I enjoy seeing other’s win. I consider myself an inner-city girl with a world-class swag. I’ve been through a lot to get to where I am today, and I know the sky is the limit.” Her family – most importantly her children are the driving motivation who fuels her passion to do her best in everything she does. “Don’t be afraid to take risk. Whether you win or lose, you’ve experienced something and have been given a chance to learn from that experience.”
What makes her and her business stand out is the true care for customers and attention to detail. “Most customers tell me the items they purchase from me make them not only look good, but also feel wonderful.” Deanna has transformed her retail business to be MUCH MORE than JUST a boutique. She LOVES to empower women and share her knowledge with fellow dreamers to help them start their own retail businesses. “To me, there’s no competition, only growth and partnership.” She offers a variety of services and products through her website – www.sssboutique.com, including: business development for women interested in opening an online boutique, business and leadership consulting, and inspirational speaking for events. “I just hope to keep building on great experiences and partnerships and seeing where my dreams will take me.”
So, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? You should head on over to her website, and get in touch. She would love to hear from you about your thoughts on this article, and she would be honored to help you look and feel beautiful. She has clothing, accessories, and inspirational words waiting just for you…
Social Media Info: Linkedin: Deanna Kimbrel
Phone Number: 585-414-2215