Two years ago, it was just another day of business at Sagine Pierre’s boutique in West Hempstead. The owner was standing outside her store, Sage & Angie Boutique on Nassau Boulevard, greeting passersby and promoting her business like most days. That’s when she caught the attention of Yandy Smith-Harris, a cast member of VH1’s “Love & Hip Hop,” who was visiting a spa a few stores away.
Intrigued by Pierre’s enthusiasm, Smith-Harris stopped in her store and checked out the colorful assortment of dresses and outfits. Smith-Harris purchased several outfits, and she even wore a jumpsuit she bought during an episode of the show. The two have kept in touch through social media and mutual friends ever since, and Smith-Harris will return to support Pierre’s business during her “Afrocentric Event” on Feb. 15 from noon to 4 p.m.
“From a fashion standpoint, I’m hoping to introduce more people to Afrocentric clothing and show them how to style these pieces into their outfits,” Pierre said.
Pierre, who is also the West Hempstead Chamber of Commerce’s vice president, said she hoped to celebrate both black-owned and small businesses at her upcoming event.
“Yandy is very involved in the black community, and someone who uses her platform to support people of color,” Pierre said. “But as a small-business owner, I’d like for people to see that just because we’re not based in the city, that doesn’t mean you can’t always reach for the stars.”
Smith-Harris, a businesswoman who first appeared on “Love & Hip Hop” in 2011, said she aims to support minority-owned businesses because they often struggle. When she is not taping her show, she travels the country to promote her brand while meeting with local business owners to share her knowledge.
“So many minority-owned businesses don’t come from families with a silver spoon in their mouth,” Smith-Harris said. “With businesses like Sagine’s, people realize that they don’t have to go to the city or online to find cute dresses. You need to wrap your arms around these kinds of businesses.”
West Hempstead Chamber President Marshall Myers said small businesses must be active and vocal in their communities. Competing against major retailers, Myers said, is a daily challenge for many small businesses.
“It’s so easy to fall into obscurity,” Myers said. “But Sagine puts her full effort into it, and she’s seeing the results of that. You have to establish an identity, and you have to be proactive every single day, and she’s doing that.”
Smith-Harris, who will feature her skin care line at the store’s event, said that to thrive as small business owners, entrepreneurs should stick to the basics. “No matter how famous or popular you get, being kind and courteous goes a long way,” Smith-Harris said. “Something as simple as getting someone’s name right . . . staying on top of those kind of details is very important.”
Residents must RSVP for the event at the store’s website, www.sageandangie.com.