Shamanda Washington, who currently works at an alternative high school in Maryland, isn't your average high school teacher.
"The community inspired me to open a business. I felt that this was necessary for my hometown and surrounding counties," Washington said.
On July 7, Washington opened her own sneaker store known as Laced LLC, located at 146 N. Main Street in Farmville, Virginia. The store is run by Washington and a few of her family members and will eventually have job openings available. Washington said this business venture had been in the works for three years.
"I have been wanting to open this business for three years, but never had the time. I knew for sure it would be opening summer 2018, when I made it a goal of mine in January 2018," Washington said.
Before finally committing to her goal, Washington got the legal paperwork completed for her business in 2017 and in April 2018 Washington found a building for her store. Washington takes pride in being a black business owner in Farmville, given the history of the small town, and says her store wouldn't have meant anything to her if it had been opened anywhere else.
Washington, who grew up in Farmville, said what really sets her business apart from the other sneaker stores in Farmville is that her store is welcoming. She said she hopes her business restores the feeling of togetherness that has been lost in the town.
"I'm not looking just for "customers." I want people to come in and just be in a welcoming environment where they can be themselves," Washington said. "I want people to have a good time and not feel pressured to have to purchase something, although that would make me happy."
At Laced LLC, customers can also sell and trade sneakers and purchase apparel designed by Washington. She says she only buys sneakers on Sundays. Customers can bring in their gently used sneakers and sell them for cash or trade them for an item of equal value.
"All shoes are accepted at my discretion. I'm looking at the condition, type of shoe and size," Washington said.
Five years from now Washington hopes Laced LLC is financially successful, but Washington says she ultimately hopes her business makes an impact on the community. She said being a black, female business owner is important to her as it allows her to influence the next African American to achieve their dreams.
Washington said Laced LLC is just one opportunity she hopes to offer the community; in the future, she hopes to start her own mentoring program for the youth and work with the youth sports program of Prince Edward County.
For more information on Washington's sneaker store and updates on Washington's business ventures, you can follow @LacedKicksVa on Instagram or follow Laced LLC on Facebook.