CHARDON, Ohio — Despite the struggles brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s office said Thursday that more than 171,000 new businesses were created statewide in 2020.
One of them is a new clothing boutique in Chardon called Village Trends Boutique.
Through her business, owner Elizabeth Tarkowsky is not only providing jobs to people who need them, but also giving back to the community in a big way.
2018 was a year of loss for Elizabeth Tarkowsky.
“It was a really rough year, my mom ended up passing away,” Tarkowsky said.
But it was also a year of growth and self-realization.
“I want to just do something I love - something that makes me happy, that brings happiness to other people,” Tarkowsky.
Her happy place is her clothing shop - Village Trends Boutique.
It started as an online store out of her home in 2018. Then, it quickly expanded to a brick and mortar space in Chesterland in April 2019, which shut down during the COVID lockdown last March.
“Hardest part for me with that was my employees were not working,” Tarkowsky said. “That's one of the things I love about this job is being able to employ people, and give people jobs. And for me, it was really hard closing because not only is it affecting me, but it's affecting all of my employees.”
Tarkowsky and her team were able to open back up after the lockdown with reduced capacity, but lots of support.
That support helped her open a location in Chardon in October, right in the midst of the pandemic.
“I said you know what, if I can make this work, I think in a year it's gonna be worth going through the struggles of this year,” Tarkowsky said.
Tarkowsky joins thousands of other Ohioans trying to make it work during the pandemic.
According to LaRose’s office, new business filings in 2020 (171,073) beat the record in 2019 (130,621).
Those businesses are providing countless jobs for people like Rachel Jennings, who lost her job during the pandemic and joined Tarkowsky in Chardon in October.
“It was huge. I mean, not working was really hard, because obviously you have no income and I'm a student too so it was hard being a student with no income and trying to pay for tuition,” Jennings said.
Tarkowsky also loves to contribute to the community and help people.
So this year, she started something called Fundraising February, donating 15% of sales from both stores and online to a different organization every Thursday and Friday this month.
“St. Anselm’s recently had theirs and they told me that they raised more in my one fundraiser than they've done all year,” Tarkowsky said.
Other organizations that have participated include Westwood Elementary School and A Special Wish Cleveland.
And while this year has been great in spite of the challenges, she’s hoping the next will be a little easier.
“I feel like if I can get through this tough year I think that next year is going to be even better,” Tarkowsky said. “Once events come back, and people can do more of the social type of shopping, I think that'll make a huge difference and draw a lot more people into the store.”
More information about Village Trends Boutique can be found here.
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