By Bianca Silva
When Sagine Pierre realized she possessed a flair for fashion after noticing people would compliment on her outfits, she decided to do something with her talent.
“Folks would literally want to take my outfits off of me,” she says.
After spending 11 years working at Lord & Taylor, Pierre launched an online store in 2016 and in April 2017, opened the Sage and Angie boutique in West Hempstead, Long Island. The name was in homage to her two daughters Sage and Angie. In that time since opening her business, Pierre got the opportunity to design the dress of Miss Universe Haiti Cassandra Chéry for the 2017 edition of Miss Universe.
Pierre speaks with The Haitian Times on the work she’s done since the launch of her boutique.
It’s been almost two years since the grand opening of your store: Sage and Angie. How has your business grown in that time?
There have been good months and slow months. When I first started, I felt discouraged during times of instability and would feel stressed out. I started having anxiety attacks [and] ended up in the hospital but with faith and support from my family I kept going and pushing. Now, during some months I’d triple last year’s sales, and [on] slower months I recharge and refocus on new ideas and work hard to get out of the valleys, so the peaks will be even sweeter.
What has been some of the challenges of running your own business? What lessons have you learned from being a store owner?
I really underestimated the amount of work that goes into founding and running a business. You’ll work around the clock and sometimes you will go without sleep. I am wearing 10 different hats to grow my business and any given day can be a rollercoaster. I learned that your circle may not be your customers. I had to get creative to grow my customer base.
Your desire to stay connected to the community of West Hempstead has involved holding book signings and Breakfast with Santa in addition to having an online clothing website. Why is it so important that the customers in your community support local businesses?
Small business is the heart of the economy. When you support a small business you support a dream. I always try [to] participate in local events and fundraising. They are seeing Sage & Angie Boutique as sponsors for several local PTA events and different activities. We support each other.
How has your Haitian heritage influenced the fashion sense you’ve developed over the years? What fashion styles are popular within the Haitian community?
My beautiful mom is bold and loves over-the-top pieces. I was raised to look for pieces that aren’t common and pieces you won’t see yourself coming and going in. I would say in the black community we love colors, we love bold statement pieces and we are not afraid to stand out.
What advice do you have for those who want to open a small business of their own?
Wow!! So many. But I would say have a plan. Even an expert can be thrown off their game, so they have to have a plan of action to overcome it. You don’t start making money right away, so make sure you have at least six months of operating cost and income. Success will not happen overnight. More importantly, you must know the field or hire someone that does.