CHICAGO — While many small businesses shuttered for good during the COVID-19 pandemic, one local real estate investor defied the odds by investing in her community and opening for business with a plan that includes giving back and beautifying her community. Dwan “Dee” Stevens is one of Chicago’s Very Own.
Stevens is a long way from corporate America.
“I figured I know how to rent and lease out space so figured a salon would be a good fit. Plus I like all things beauty,” she said.
And now Stevens is her own boss in her own community.
She’s the owner of Urban Luxe Beauty on land that she bought last march.
“The day that we walked in here to kind of map out everything that we wanted to do, the very next day the city got shut down,” she said.
But the pandemic shutdowns didn’t stop her, in fact she said a little prayer and stayed on course, because she said the Englewood community needed this.
“I understand there are some needs here in the area. It’s a soft spot for me because I was here all up and down these streets even up and down the streets of Halsted, I used to shop there as a little girl,” she said.
Now, a real estate investor, Stevens reached out to fellow businesses on 68th Street and Ashland Avenue in an effort to connect and build relationships.
“It’s important to take pride in where we live and where we work, and being the example in doing that work,” she said. “Just hoping that our neighbors and residential business owners as well would follow suit.”
And they did. Last month employees at the Urban Luxe Salon were joined by neighboring businesses and residents in an effort to “beautify the block.” Together they cleaned a stretch of Ashland Avenue to 68th to 69th streets.
Friend and fellow female business owner Immaculata Stepanek said Stevens is someone with genuine care for the community.
“She is true of heart in everything that she is trying to do here is what really needs to be done,” she said. “She’s bring other businesses together to get the area cleaned up and invest.”
Stevens didn’t stop there. Last month with money left over from the clean ups fundraising account, she bought beauty supplies to donate to a nearby women’s shelter.
“Everything from manicure sets, pedicure sets, lipsticks and also journals for them to write in,” Stevens said. “To reflect on wherever it is that they are and would like to be.”
And in the 30 packaged kits she included handwritten messages of hope.
Longtime friend and business partner Reluv Nails said there are bigger philanthropic plans in the works as the world waits to return to normalcy.
“We are hoping COVID will subside and then we could move on to community giveaways as far as giving food baskets and book supplies, prom dresses we just have an expansive amount of ideas that she’s keeps in this book she carry’s everywhere,” Nails said.
Stevens plans to expand her salon business. And her mission to give back no matter what community, will always remain.
“It’s important because I don’t personally want to be and I don’t want my business to be a taker,” Stevens said.
Stevens is currently in the process of opening two additional salons in Chicago’s Ashburn neighborhood.