“Ever since I was a kid,” said Johanna Pearson, “I wanted to own my own boutique one way or another.” At only 21 years old, Johanna has made that dream a reality with her mobile boutique, Cherry on Top.
Johanna is from Shenandoah County and has been involved in pageants since she was 14 years old. Today, she is a senior in college studying Fashion Merchandising with a minor in Business Marketing. She credits her experience with pageants as inspiring both her interest in fashion and the business world.
Johanna comes from a family of entrepreneurs. After working for a small business owner in Charlotte, Johanna was even more excited to start her own business. Her family was incredibly supportive and encouraged her to “just do it.”
So, when she heard about People Incorporated’s small business lending and technical assistance services during a summer business class, she decided to pay a visit to the agency’s Woodstock office.
That’s where Johanna met People Incorporated’s business lender/advisor for the region, Kristy. Johanna worked with Kristy to submit her business plan and fill out the required paperwork. Then it was just about waiting for a phone call to make sure her application had gone through.
A few days later, Johanna got the call that her application for a $15,000 loan had been approved. Business loan in hand, Johanna was one step closer to realizing her dream. She used her loan to purchase a 1970s vintage trailer she had been eyeing. She worked hard to completely renovate the trailer, replacing the flooring, fixing a wall, adding a new roof, window, and A/C unit. She and her mom “made it pretty” with new paint, a custom checkout counter and more. Johanna purchased additional inventory for Cherry on Top with the remainder of her loan. At her first event, she sold out of dresses and tops. Even today Johanna continues to sell out at events!
Johanna travels across the Shenandoah Valley region with Cherry on Top, attending fairs, events, and pageants. She feels like she’s filling a need in the rural area, since there are little to no boutique retailers. Eventually, she’d love to find a permanent place to park her trailer with the goal of only traveling on the weekends.
The future of Johanna’s business looks bright. She hopes to learn how to design and sew outfits and wants to start her own clothing line someday. Johanna wants to get into bridal and prom attire soon. “That’s the number one goal,” said Johanna. “I’m excited – with the world reopening, it seems like a good time, weddings are happening, proms are happening.” For Johanna, things are looking up with Cherry on Top.
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