By Mahalia Anderson
Rashee Russell, owner of Manchester-based business Artic Ice Jewelry, is making every customer she meets sparkle.
With just one step inside the “Artic Ice Box”—her home-based VIP shopping experience—it’s clear that Rashee has one mission: to help spread joy and positivity, while making people feel great about themselves.
Already a busy mom of three, Rashee shared that she “always wanted a side hustle to earn extra money” in addition to working a "9-5" job. When she was invited to a jewelry party a few years ago, little did she know that it was the beginning of the adventure of her life.
"To personally be interactive with my customers as they ‘ooh and ahh’ over the jewelry is what puts a smile on my face as well as theirs."
“Four years ago I was invited to a Paparazzi jewelry party and I was intrigued by the beautiful jewelry and was blown away by the price point of five dollars,” she said. “Needless to say, I spent a lot of money that night! I watched how people were excited and buying up jewelry like crazy. I also know that the Paparazzi consultant made a lot of money that night.”
That evening sparked an idea for Rashee, and Artic Ice started to become a reality.
“A light bulb went off in my head and I knew that this was something I could do. I signed up as a Paparazzi consultant and my journey started that night,” she said.
Now, four years later, Rashee is the director of Artic Ice Jewelry with a team of 50 people beside her making people happy and radiant with their purchases. Her hopes are to one day make it her full-time job.
“It’s definitely a juggling act to balance mom-life, work-life, being a wife and my newest title as an entrepreneur,” she shared. “I put God first in all that I do and during those times when business is slow and not at its full potential, I take a step back to re-evaluate and reinvent my brand with new ideas. I can only take one day at a time and that’s even more the reason to go harder the next day to get it right.”
Ready to help make entrepreneurs out of anyone, what inspires Rashee to keep thriving, especially during the pandemic, was seeing how the smallest things, like purchasing jewelry online, was making her customers happy.
“We were restricted from so many things and so many people were looking for an outlet to do something fulfilling, fun and safe. And spending money on five-dollar jewelry in a pandemic definitely fulfilled that need,” she shared.
Yet at the same time, just like many other small businesses, sometimes keeping momentum going through the challenges of the pandemic has been tough.
“To be a positive small business owner in a community, where so many people have lost their jobs or have had their income cut significantly can put a strain on your business if the customers who used to support you no longer can do so,” she shared. “I’ve had my ups and downs in the business but to keep going through adversity is what made me stronger, better and wiser.”
Making people feel like magic is what Russell does best. Her team and founders of Paparazzi, friends, family and customers are her support and motivation to keep chasing her dream.
“The founders of Paparazzi, their staff and other consultants from different walks of life pour positive energy into one another, which is uplifting,” said Rashee. “We are a sisterhood and brotherhood.”
While the pandemic has put a damper on gathering, being together with her customers is what Rashee enjoys most, by hosting jewelry parties for girls’ nights, special events and family functions.
“To personally be interactive with my customers as they ‘ooh and ahh’ over the jewelry is what puts a smile on my face as well as theirs,” she explained.
Rashee also shows love to her community by offering some sweet perks and giving back.
And while she isn’t able to host in-person parties as much these days, Rashee has transitioned to shop online and offers in-person shopping at the “Artic Ice Box” by appointment—her home shop filled with a wide selection of pieces to choose from, including looks for women, men and children.
At such an affordable price point, jewelry from Rashee's Artic Ice Box doesn’t disappoint. Her children’s line, called Starlet Shimmer, include earrings, bracelets and rings for only a dollar each. Women’s jewelry options include earrings, bracelets, rings and necklaces—and all necklaces come with matching earrings! She also offers men's jewelry, including bracelets, necklaces and rings. Whether shoppers are looking for metal, seed beads, acrylic or wood pieces, she’s got them covered. All adult jewelry is priced at five dollars, with the exception of her upscale Zi Collection sets for $25.00 each. All jewelry in the Artic Ice box is lead- and nickel-free.
Best of all, Rashee is helping more and more people enjoy the finer—yet affordable—things in life, one piece of jewelry at a time.
To shop the Artic Ice Box, visit their online shops at articicebox.com or articice.org. Find Artic Ice on Facebook and Instagram to view Facebook Live shopping events or book an in-person shopping appointment.
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By Mahalia Anderson
Beauty can go a long way, and Waterbury business owner Cherron Freeman is making sure every customer that visits her store leaves feeling even more beautiful then when they walked in.
Just a few months ago, Cherron’s Beauty Supply was only an idea for Freeman, who is a recent HBCU graduate from North Carolina Central University and holds two degrees—one in political science with a concentration in prelaw and another in mass communication with a concentration in public relations.
“I got the idea to open my store after my mom showed me the space for rent and kept telling me it was a perfect location for a business,” she shared. “I wanted to open something Waterbury didn’t have already and then we came up with a beauty supply store to bring something different.”
Since then, the Cherron Beauty Supply has been flourishing.
“We carry everything you need in a beauty supply store, from all varieties of colorful wigs to natural hair care products such as Mielle and ORS,” shared Freeman. “We also [do] hair braiding and crocheting, [have] hair accessories, jewelry and a lot more.”
When it comes to hair, Freeman knows that quality is important, and she knows that her customers can depend on her store for the right products to suit their needs and help enhance their natural beauty.
“We make sure we have the best quality wigs and products for our customers,” she said. “We only want to have products which really work for your hair and wigs that will last.”
Cherron’s Beauty Supply is able to cater to each customer’s personality, with affordability as a priority. Her best-selling products show how Freeman’s customers are all about being fun and creative. “Our customers love our wigs! We have so many unique colors and styles, and we’re still adding more every day,” she shared. “One of our most popular products if our Tie Dye Wig—people love it. We have to restock it all the time!”
“We really take the time to research everything and choose what is best. From the wigs the products and how to use them, we want to be able to give honest information.”
Freeman understands the value of each customer and her goal is to make sure that when they leave the store that not only are the happy but are radiating from the inside out.
“The best customer service is having knowledge about your products and be able to inform your customers properly. You also need a very friendly, outgoing personality,” explained Freeman. “We really take the time to research everything and choose what is best. From the wigs the products and how to use them, we want to be able to give honest information.”
Cherron’s Beauty Supply stocks beautiful wigs in many different colors, styles and materials, including synthetic to human hair, to set the look for a special night out or even a casual day in the park.
With success already knocking at her door, Freeman’s dream is to grow her business and be able to teach other girls how, with following their passion and putting in hard work, they can do the same. “Wanting to expand keeps me going! I want to have multiple stores in different cities all around and be able to teach other girls how to do it too,” she shared.
Freeman has already made a huge difference in her community and has high hopes to do more in the future. “We had a toy giveaway for Christmas in partnership with The New Woman’s Club,” she shared. “We plan on doing a lot more in the spring!”
One way or another, Cherron is beautifying her community, one product at a time.
Cherron’s Beauty Supply is located at 68 Willow Street in Waterbury, Connecticut and is open Monday-Friday, 10:00am-7:00pm, Saturday 9:00am-7:00pm and Sunday 12:00-5:00pm. Shop on their website or find Cherron’s Beauty Supply on Instagram or Facebook.
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