We have all heard the stories and hardships that small businesses have faced during the pandemic, but there are many success stories to celebrate about those whose businesses have taken off.

Houston business owner, Shanté Thompson, is one of many who have seen an increase in customers and revenue during the pandemic. Thompson started her business three years ago after making a t-shirt that read, “Black, Educated, Empowered!” Thompson says she proudly wore her shirt to work and did not get the reaction that she hoped for.

Thompson was told by upper management that a fellow co-worker felt the shirt was racist and reported her to Human Resources. Following the fallout from the company, Thompson stepped out on faith to create a fashionable t-shirt brand that would be a voice for women of all backgrounds. And just like that, DOSSCOUTURE was born.

Bayou Beat News spoke with Thompson, who shared what’s kept her business growing during these challenging times.

BB: Why do you think your business has flourished during the pandemic, unlike others?

Thompson: Good question! First, online businesses have thrived during the pandemic because that became the primary method for shopping when COVID hit. There was no face-to-face. Online shopping increased from 16% of overall shopping before the pandemic to 21% during the pandemic.  Secondly, fashion changed because people changed their priorities. We stopped going to the office so we no longer had a need to buy or wear “real clothes.” Sweatpants, comfy clothes and casual shoes became a staple and continue to remain that way post-pandemic.  I have a closet full of clothes and heels, but I always grab a DossCouture tee and dress it up or down, and many ladies have joined me specifically supporting Doss.

I also think that the movement for racial equality and justice helped as well. Ladies were looking for tees to give their fashion a voice and many look to ‘shop black’.

BB: What sets you apart from other boutiques and t-shirt companies?

Thompson: I think that the backstory behind how Doss was created and the name and branding sets me apart because there is so much of who I am in every quote and message that I put on a shirt. For example, the name Doss was my grandfather’s last name and he was such a great person. The acronym for Doss is Daring, Outspoken, Strong, Sophisticated, which are all the things that my grandfather was. But that also relates to so many women. DossCouture’s statement tees are made with the purpose of giving a voice to all women’s points of view whether in the backyard, the boardroom, or night out with friends.

A soft, comfy tee that is affordable with a great message is what every woman looks for and that’s what I set out to provide.

BB: How do you balance being a working mom and entrepreneur?

Thompson: I struggled for years trying to balance work, wife, mom, and entrepreneurship. There is no such thing! And I’m sure many will agree. You choose one. Be great and at the moment. So when I’m a great wife and mom, I’m probably not so focused on work and the business. I try to stay in the moment and enjoy family time but everyone knows when it’s Doss time, I have to be focused on Doss.

BB: What advice can you give to someone thinking about becoming an entrepreneur but don’t know where to start?

Thompson: Five things…..

  1. Choose something you are passionate about and GO FOR IT!
  2. Don’t rely on friends and family to support and make your business successful. Find your customer base and focus there.  Everyone and everything else will fall into place.
  3. Stay the course! I’m three years in and it’s tough but I’m loving every minute.
  4. Take advice from others who have already been there. You can learn a lot from their mistakes.
  5. Lastly, everyone finds success in different ways. Not everyone is an overnight success. you have to be willing to stay the course. Everyone wants to turn a quick dollar but it’s really about building your clientele and growing the business in the beginning.

BB: What upcoming projects are you working on that our readers should know about?

Thompson: Visit our website and sign up to our mailing list to stay up to date on all of our pop-ups, events, and exclusive discounts, and you can always find me in the community working with The Women’s Fund Houston and SmahrtGirl Foundation to support, educate and empower women and girls.