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Black ENTREPRENEURS MONTH: Shawna Christian Tansy

 Shawna Christian, who owns home décor and gardening haven Tansy at in Burbank, says the most common word people use to describe her store is “magical.” Tansy specializes in eclectic and whimsical decorative items from around the world, including indoor plants, pottery and art accessories. Christian also uses her lush, bohemian storefront to host events, including tea and birthday parties in the shop’s “enchanted fairy garden.” Opened in summer 2019 after a decades-long career in IT, Tansy is a labor of love and a dream fulfilled for Christian. She told the Business Journal, “It’s hard to describe my shop. It is only fully experienced by walking in the door.”Question: Tell us how you got your business started.Answer: After running an outsourced IT business for 24 years and turning 50, I decided to change the direction of my life. My kids are adults now and I did not need to make a 6-figure income anymore. I had spent the last 10 years of my life making my home a sanctuary and creating a magical plant oasis. I decided I wanted to open a shop where I could give others the opportunity to create their own sanctuary and bring life into their home. I like to think our target customer is anybody who loves plants and colorful things, but really it seems to be 90 percent girls and women of all ages.Do you like being your own boss? Do you ever think about trading it all in for a steady paycheck?I love being my own boss. As much as I loved my old career, I would never go back. It gave me what I needed to get to the next level and challenge myself. I haven’t looked back.What’s the biggest challenge your business has faced and how did you deal with it?The biggest challenge has been getting a new business off the ground right before a pandemic and racial unrest. We have created an amazing community who have championed for us during this time, whether by promoting us as a Black woman-owned business or continuing to shop to support small businesses. I have taken loans to keep things afloat and have hired during this time as well. It will all work itself out.What advice would you give someone who’s about to start a business of their own?Follow your dream and don’t let anyone stop you, but first and foremost, do your homework. Starting a business in this day and age, especially in California, is extremely hard if you don’t have help and you don’t do your research.

 Has being Black affected your business? Your career?It hasn’t affected my career personally. I am more proud of being a woman in business. However, our customers promoted us as being Black-owned through social media (after the unrest last summer). We definitely had a boost in revenue because of that.Of course, we must ask about the pandemic. How has it affected the shop and you personally? We closed for two months and opened back up when we realized we are considered an essential business because of our nursery license. It affected our finances hard in the beginning, but business picked up quickly as everyone all of a sudden wanted plants and home décor for the homes they were now stuck in. We have taken measures to reduce the amount of people allowed in the shop at one time, ask everyone to clean their hands with a sanitizer we provide and we offer private shopping appointments.How do you think your business will change, post pandemic?I think it’s only up from here. Once things ease and life settles, we will have gained a huge amount of new plant parents as well as people who have a renewed energy to create and improve their home space.Anything else you feel is important?This endeavor has rewarded me in a million ways, from meeting new people everyday to getting a chance to change people’s minds and perspectives. I have a contingency of preteen girls who get to come in on the weekends and work for a couple hours. They get a chance to see what it’s like to run a business, help customers and learn about plants. It’s been an amazing journey so far.

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