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A.J. Francis had always dreamed of starting her own business, but it wasn’t until the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. earlier this year that she finally made the leap.
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Francis, a single mom from Cleveland, worked as a home health care aide until March, when Ohio issued a statewide stay-at-home order. Her company closed, and she lost her job with one day notice, according to Cleveland's WEWS-TV.
"When it got to the point of whether I was going to pay the bills or buy groceries, then I knew I had to do something," Francis told the television station.
That “something” was starting her own online boutique.
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"I knew it was either now or never,” she said.
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Francis told WEWS that she got her business license last year but finally started making products this year — though she had to use some of her savings to get started.
"I had to invest in myself and take a chance, and so far I'm pleased with the results," Francis said.
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Her boutique is called Eloquently B.L.A.C., which stands for “believe love always conquers,” according to the website.
The website sells T-shirts with phrases including “Sending virtual hugs” and “Quarantine Queen 2020.” She also makes earrings, bracelets, tote bags and custom masks.
According to WEWS, Francis runs the whole operation from her house.
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Aside from having the chance to pursue her dream, Francis told WEWS that being able to provide for and teach her 15-year-old son has kept her motivated as she runs her own business.