Meet Pamela from Frances May

Pamela is an Indigenous Karuk and Founder of Frances May, a modern boutique that centers Indigenous and Black/Brown people as customers, designers and cultures.

Her shop is a platform for exploring these issues and challenging the systems of white patriarchy through independently designed apparel and accessories for men and women. The retail industry has faced massive challenges over the last few years thanks to the pandemic and Frances May was no exception. Pam remarks on the hardships, “The first [challenge was] losing the lease to our flagship store in early 2020 and dealing with a series of moves and temporary storefronts. The second challenge was figuring out how to decrease our orders by half with products ordered six months in advance while maintaining relationships.”

When the state closed down retail, focusing on ecommerce became a viable option and losing their lease was an unexpected blessing in disguise. Pam was able to remain open online for four months without a lease weighing her business down. When in-person shopping began to reopen, Frances May shared a storefront with another struggling shop. Together they were able to pay rent and employees. Leaning deeper into her supplier relationships was also key, “What I found most inspiring through this unprecedented time was that with honesty and humility, we could survive with the love and support of our community. I will never forget how close we are all connected.” With other social movements coming to fruition and the exposure systems of oppression have had over the last few years, Pam has used her agility and the resilience from her cultural background to guide her through these times.

“Before the pandemic, I tried to plow through difficult times alone. The pandemic compounded the loneliness and isolation created by this lone-wolf approach. Xcelerate has given me a safe place to explore these feelings of frustration. Sharing the challenges of being a small business owner with the women in the Xcelerate community has helped me to move past these feelings and implement actionable tasks that propel my business forward. I'm planning for future growth and expansion for the first time in three years.”
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