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Tampa Bay Business Owner Defies Odds, Opens Business Amid Pandemic

CW44 News At 10

MANATEE COUNTY (CW44 News At 10) - "I've never not worked a whole day in my life. I left home at 15 and I've always had two jobs so it was really challenging for me to get out of that work mode and to just slow myself down," said Leah Chavie, Owner of Leah Chavie Skincare Boutique in Manatee County.

Filled with passion and drive, Leah Chavie says it might be a difficult time to chase a dream but not even that could stop her. "I left Rosemont, Minnesota and went to Chicago and opened my own business about 10 years ago on Halsted [Street] in Chicago," said Chavie. With her Chicago business meeting it's 10th anniversary, and what the year 2020 had in store, she wasn't exactly able to celebrate. "Where I live and where my business is, is right in the heart of the city which is considered a hot zone and so that kind of brought some fear and anxiety within itself for me. You know it was just a really hard decision to step away and to step back from my business but we had no choice, you know, we had to be socially responsible and shut down. How can we practice safe skincare being so close?"

And after dealing with loss and her second Chicago location burning down she decided to get away for a moment. "We made a decision to pack up our car and our three dogs and to drive 19 hours to kind of escape the cold and, at that point, we just really didn't know the intensity of everything that was happening and there was so much fear floating around," said Chavie. But that week turned into 2 months along with a life changing decision. "It was just an interesting time and we had made the decision prior to coming back that we wanted to open this business here just… it called to me, something called to me and everything just kept opening up for us down here," said Chavie.

She beat the odds and opened up a new business on Anna Maria Island during a pandemic. "Truth be told the way that my mind was thinking was that what if Chicago doesn't allow us to open back up anytime soon because it was such a hot spot, that we wanted to have another option," said Chavie. She says it wasn't easy, but was one of the best instinctive decisions she's made. "It a scary time and nobody knows what's going to happen, nobody knows where this is going to go if, now we're seeing a resurgence. I just feel like, 'why not', you know? Why not try it and see what we can do," said Chavie.

Chavie hopes to be an inspiration to other business owners during some of the most trying times. "You know, you learn through everything and you grow from each experience and it makes you a stronger person and a better business owner if you will. I feel, with the pandemic, that really has brought that out for a lot of people. What's important, and it's about people and relationships and respect and integrity," said Chavie.

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