‘It’s a sisterhood’: East Harlem women business owners support each other through pandemic

Coronavirus

MANHATTAN, N.Y. — In East Harlem, these business women do what they can to lift each other up during times of struggle.

It was a busy Tuesday inside Omo Sade Skincare on Madison Avenue. Jahmilcah Figeroux is turning 40, and she wanted her hair to look fabulous.

Figeroux said she goes to the salon because she loves the stylists, but she’s also committed to supporting local women business owners like Sade Tyler.

“The sisters in this community hold me up! That’s why we are still here and others have closed down,” said Tyler, founder and CEO of Omo Sade Skincare.

Tyler started her own skin care and makeup line, and opened up a beauty boutique in East Harlem 29 years ago. She said she’s managed to keep her doors open during the pandemic because of loyal customers and a strong network of East Harlem women business owners who help each other not just to survive, but thrive.

Casandra Rosario owns Rosario Group in East Harlem and has worked as an event planner, digital marketer, and content strategist for over a decade. She agreed with Tyler, saying networking was even more critical during the height of the COVID pandemic.

“There is something about East Harlem. We are known as a family. You are not doing this alone,” Rosario said.

Hope Community, a nonprofit affordable housing group in the neighborhood, has helped connect the women through forums and workshops. 

Director Julie Dussard said it’s more important than ever to support local businesses.

“Money needs to circulate in our community. It keeps us thriving and beautiful,” Dussard said.

The organization is hosting a special virtual forum on Wednesday at 9 a.m. Anyone interested in participating can reach out via email at RSVP@Hopeci.org.

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