ORLANDO, Fla – To celebrate Black Business Month, News 6 had the opportunity to visit a Black and women-owned business that offers its customers a refreshing experience.
Miscellaneous is a neighborhood shop located in Ivanhoe Village that started when a sister duo saw the lack of local stores selling curated gifts and products.
[TRENDING: Study: This Florida theme park is more expensive than Disney World | US gas prices dip just below $4 for first time in 5 months | Enter daily to win a $100 gas card | Become a News 6 Insider (it’s free!)]
Dede Cowart, 29, and Landrea Cowart, 24, are two young entrepreneurs who are Orlando natives and gift lovers.
The sisters said they opened the store four years ago when their mother gave them her blessing to start the business.
Miscellaneous grew from the desire to offer a place to the community where people could find a curated selection of gifts, decor and aesthetic products perfect for any occasion.
“We’re big on gift giving, Christmas time is always our favorite holiday of the year and so when we would go out and try to find like little knick-knacks or things that were very personable, that’s where we would find it very difficult,” Landrea Cowart said. “So I think that’s what keeps it going, keeps it flowing for us, is to be able to allow you to get gifts for any occasion, any age, for any demographic in your neighborhood.”
The sisters call Miscellaneous a shopping experience because people can touch, feel and see the products in real life without worrying about delays, not looking like the picture, or being the right dimensions.
The name of the store came from wanting to offer a little bit of everything to the community, hence why they called it Miscellaneous.
Landrea Cowart said they usually light a candle before they open to make sure the store smells delicious all day and play music from all genres and types to make customers feel the positive vibes they are trying to transmit.
“I feel like Miscellaneous is really relatable, there’s a sense of either nostalgia or just, it feels like someone you know,” Dede Cowart said. “And then it’s also very kind of modern and sophisticated.”
The idea for the shop started when their mom, the owner of RW Events started mentioning to them how she wished there was a store for wedding and bridal gifts.
The sisters, who have always loved gift giving, thought the idea was genius and started reshaping it into a more generalized concept where they could sell all types of gifts, housewares, candles and other products.
As the idea took form, the sisters looked for inventory and decided to open the store.
“With us loving gifting as a family and feeling like we were very limited here on those options, we kind of started researching and seeing what there was and wanting to provide that, we wanted it to feel like a neighborhood shop,” Dede Cowart said. “So luckily, we did find this space where we are a part of a neighborhood, essentially, in a community.”
Now, the Cowart girls not only do inventory, restocking and social media for their business, but they are also the ones greeting and taking care of the customers the moment they walk through their front door.
“It’s allowed us to actually build a sense of community, have our regulars, know people on a first-name basis and I think it’s helped us with how we’ve developed as buyers because we have that firsthand insight, we’re seeing what people need,” Dede Cowart said.
Because the business is family-owned, the sister said that they always try to put boundaries and be intentional about the things they do to avoid burnout.
“So I think we have our strengths, we have our weaknesses, and we played into those. So it’s like, there are certain things that she’s just going to be better at doing, there are certain things that I’m going to be better at doing,” Dede Cowart said. “We kind of naturally know that and it helps us to facilitate our day-to-day operations and we are kind of like a tight-knit unit. But it’s been a learning process, too. So every day is something new, and we’re figuring it out as we go.”
Even though Miscellaneous is currently a brick-and-mortar store, the sisters’ goal is to expand their business into e-commerce, giving people the chance to purchase their products anywhere in the U.S.
“I think the brand could just open up to the masses because we’re only a brick and mortar. We’re cool being the neighborhood shop but it’s like, we have really cool stuff, the way we curate everything,” Landrea Cowart said. “We just want that even though you’re not in Orlando, you can be able to still get the same vibe, the same flow, and all the good energy that we try to push out, that’s the goal.”
The Cowart sisters also said that some of their struggles have been more in the business aspect, when sometimes people do not take them seriously for being young and women of color.
“Navigating like the wholesale sphere, going into some of the markets and things we feel that maybe there’s some prejudice, or maybe we’re not taken seriously,” Dede Cowart said. “Sometimes we’re not taken as seriously because maybe we’re Black, and maybe we’re young. And sometimes we’re in spaces where we are the only Black people. So I think people aren’t accustomed to that.”
The sisters said, sometimes sellers underestimate them or get intimidated by them, but they said that they love who they are and they are proud of their business.
“We operate this business, people know it’s Black-owned, we’re in here, and we’re proud that it is, we’re not going to hide that,” Dede Cowart said.
The Cowart sisters wanted to advise other Black entrepreneurs to follow their dreams and passions when opening a business.
“If you’re very passionate about it, and you love what you’re doing, keep it going don’t allow others to take away the joy of what you’re doing. Why watch what everyone else is doing and compare yourself to everyone else?” Landrea Cowart said. “Because everyone’s time is different, everyone’s audience is different, you don’t have to do the same thing. I feel like it’s better to not conform to what everyone else is doing and set yourself apart because that’s what’s going to keep you on the radar.”
The sisters also said their store offers many products from local Florida vendors such as Naked Bar Soap Company, Pretty Peacock Paperie, Hellcats, Sunny K Products and others.
“What we pride ourselves in are things that you can’t find everywhere,” Landrea Cowart said. “So, it’s like every time you come in you hopefully find something you’ve never seen, something unique, something different and that’s what I think makes it such a great shopping experience.”