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Newport News hair salon owner with one grant makes big difference

The owner of My Salon Suite received a $10,000 grant. After receiving that, she paid it forward helping other small businesses get their own local and state grants.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — We saw local businesses struggle during the pandemic. Some turned to grants to help them out. One local business owner took the help that she got and paid it forward.

“Just like we received money, I wanted to make sure each of them received money,” explained Robin Gearey.

Gearey owns My Salon Suite in Newport News. The pandemic delivered a punch that left the business struggling.

She said “It was a big financial hit”

Gearey said it’s still hard to talk about. She and her husband had to shut the salon doors for two months.

“We did have some money built up in reserves and savings and we ate through the whole savings account,” she explained.

Dominion Energy wanted to help struggling business owners like Gearey. They gave $200,000 to the Urban League of Hampton Roads. The organization distributed the money to 65 minority and women-owned small businesses.

 “I remember getting the call. I was in my kitchen and I screamed when I got the call. I was not expecting it,” she explained.

She received a $10,000 grant. While her business remained closed, Gearey didn’t make anyone pay rent. She said she used the grant money for her mortgage payment on the building.

She said, “It took a lot of the financial pressure off of us and allowed us to breathe again knowing that we didn’t have to worry about making all the payments.”

In turn, Geary paid it forward, helping those who work at the salon apply for their own local and state grants. She wanted to see their small businesses survive this pandemic.

Gearey said, “We got $114,000 in grant money for them.”

Stylist Erica Grimes said she just started her hairstyling business in January 2020, right before the pandemic hit. She is a single mom and worried about how her loss of income would affect her son.

“I just had to stay strong and pay for the best,” she said.

Grimes said she received grant money from the state with the help of Gearey. She said she couldn’t have done it without her.

Grimes said, “I felt so blessed. I never felt more blessed. I think everyone said 2020 was bad, but I saw so many blessings and I was so excited to start my new journey.”

If you are a small business, Dominion Energy still has Energy Share money available for businesses that are behind on their utility bills through December 2020. Click here for more information.