Cleveland, OH. - March is Women's History Month. "Officially created by Congress in 1987, Women's History Month is the time of the years when we recognize the contributions of women. During March, collectively, we are reminded of the many sacrifices women made to help the United States of America become a more inclusive place to live.
Locally, as we reflect on the past, we are reminded of women contributing to our communities and neighborhoods. The women are bridge makers and policy builders. The late Councilwoman Fannie Lewis, Congresswoman Stephaine Tubbs Jones, Former Mayor Jane Campbell, Judge Murell Jean Capers, Former U.S. House of Representative Mary Rose Oakar, Judge Lillian Greene are trailblazers. The women have opened doors for other women to become involved in political, social, educational, and business affairs. The women are part of Cuyahoga County history due to their public sacrifice and suffrage; everyday mothers and grandmothers are paving the way for their children.
As we look closely at Cuyahoga County Women's History Month and the celebratory, we will seek some of the most impressive women in our local community. On this 6th day of March 2022, we recognize Business Owner and Entrepreneur Dr. Lisa McGuthry. McGuthry owns "Our Favorite Things" Boutique and Event Center. The Boutique is in the heart of the Larchmere Community on the southeast side of Cleveland.
Early on, several business merchants in the Larchmere Community told her, you won't make it six months. McGuthry broke down barriers to prove naysayers wrong.
As a child, McGuthry was an introvert protected by her stern-spirited business grandmother, Sally Mae Thomas, growing up in the Buckeye area as a child. Ms. Thomas raised her children and grandchildren to be independent. "My grandma was a no-nonsense type of lady. She did not like handouts. She despised welfare. Grandma owned a neighborhood store on Superior Ave. She loved the children in the neighborhood. She taught us how to run a business. Getting an education was important to her. She was our Madea," stated McGuthry.
Upon graduating from high school, McGuthry attended Central State University, where she earned her Bachelor's degree. Early in her career, she became the first black woman store manager of Walgreens in Cuyahoga County. She was the Lee/Harvard Branch store manager, South Euclid and Garfield Heights. McGuthry understood the bottom line business acumen and was later sent to East Cleveland's store to implement structure, staff retention, and customer service. After working for a corporate chain, McGuthry knew that it was time to return to formal education, build her own business and break down the barriers.
McGuthry returned to school to focus on her education. She earned her master's degree from the University of Phoenix and a Doctorate Degree in Education from Walden University. During her course of study, McGuthry became a profound follower of Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. In his 1943 paper titled "A Theory of Human Motivation," Maslow believed that people have an inborn desire to be self-actualized, that is, to be all they can be. This theory includes the need for food, safety, love, and self-esteem. Four years ago, Dr. Lisa McGuthry built "Our Favorite Things Boutique and Event Center. "You can't do anything for anyone unless we care for their basic needs. As a business owner, this is for my customers, and it roots my business. We are here to help take care of our community. We must learn to use hard and soft skills; be firm and kind to one another," says McGuthry.
Our Favorite Things Boutique and Event Center's address is 12730 Larchmere in Cleveland. The Boutique features sixteen local entrepreneurs: Bee's Brims, Bella Jewelry, Sugar and Scrubs, Created for you Design, Ailia's Sassy Tots Line, Lauren's Tees, Sisters Boutique, Justyna Goodrum Realtor, Cafe Mocha, Heaven Scent Essentials Oils, DMT Tees, Tea Spot, Pucker Up, Too Good Eats, Cheerful Giver Candle Company and Sacred Threads. Antionette "Ms. Toni" Jordan is the Area Community Engagement Manager. Jordan says, "As women, we must bring people together even if it is a shared space. We don't compete; we are supposed to help others. We love to see others thrive."
Within this establishment, there is an event center in the rear. The center handles community events. "We use this space to empower the community. The center is part of our outreach, stated Jordan." During the early season of the pandemic, the ladies used this space as a learning pod for children and parents. "We provided a safe space for children throughout Cuyahoga County. Parents were allowed to drop off their school-aged young people. We provided them with WiFi, tutoring, and meals at no cost. We made sure that they had masks, sanitizers, and a place of comfort and structure. It is our practice to be more than a Boutique. We help," said Jordan. "Our refrigerator is filled with food. We will feed the hungry and collect clothing for the needy," shared McGuthry. Both women reflected on an incident that affected a frequent customer. A Maple Heights resident house caught fire. The family needed emergency assistance. The ladies sent out a call for action and used the Boutique to collect new furnishing to aid the family. "The response was overwhelming. People cared. We refer to our loyal customers as the "Vibe Tribe." They helped immensely," added McGuthry.
With two full-time employees and an out-of-state marketing team, the women work around the clock. They will launch the Sally Mae Thomas Youth Foundation in a few weeks. The Thomas Foundation is in honor of McGuthry's grandmother. The organization will aid young people with business finances who are interested in starting their own business. "My grandmother believed in young people. Every week, we have to meet our goals. It's challenging at times, and we make it happen," says McGuthry. McGuthry's oldest daughter is a college student. Like her mom, her goal is to become a business owner. "I love what my mom is doing. She will help anyone in need. If I changed anything, it would be the shop's event preparation; they need additional employees to help facilitate events conducive to operating more efficiently," commented Samirah McGuthry.
Dr. Lisa McGuthry is the owner of "Our Favorite Things" Boutique. McGuthry is a resident of South Euclid, OH, and she is the President of the Larchmere Merchants Association.
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