RALEIGH, N.C. — According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, North Carolina had more than 964,000 small businesses in 2021, making up 99.6% of businesses in the Tar Heel State. During a visit to the Triangle on Monday, Vice President Kamala Harris focused on the investments that the Biden-Harris administration has made in small businesses with an emphasis on loans.


What You Need To Know

North Carolina had more than 964,000 small businesses in 2021

Vice President Kamala Harris visited the Triangle Monday, emphasizing support for small businesses

One Raleigh business owner says the main challenges entrepreneurs face are marketing, mentorship and financing their venture


Aesthetic Appeal Jewelry set up shop in a space on Raleigh’s Martin Street in October of last year.

“The stone is aquamarine, and I'm making it into a pendant to be made into a necklace,” said Shaunyta Jenkins, the owner and founder of Aesthetic Appeal Jewelry. “Everything is handmade by my mother and myself and recently my fiancé, he joined our efforts.”

Jenkins created this brand in 2020, but she never expected to own a business let alone imagined she’d have a storefront.

“People look at me like, ‘Girl, how did you leave the legal industry to start making jewelry?’ Because I was called here, and I listen to the calling, and I'm happy I did,” Jenkins said.

Before she found her current space, she was mostly doing pop-up events and selling online.

“But when this opportunity came up, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ Not only is it flexible, the lease terms are six months, so you don't have to worry about the high commitment just for the experience,” Jenkins said.

She’s one of two businesses currently in the retail space, spearheaded by the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, designed to help entrepreneurs succeed with perks like affordable rent and business counseling.

“We have a lot of support and mentorship and there’s people kind of holding our hand as we navigate this space,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins says marketing and mentorship are two challenges small business owners face, another is figuring out how to finance their venture.

“For example, companies that have to buy a lot of equipment, like heavy duty equipment, you need money for that. You need funding most of the time or to finance those types of things or even a store like this. If I didn’t have this opportunity, I would be in search for some type of funding source,” Jenkins said. “For my business, I have not received any funding. No loans, no lines of credit, nothing. I started with one rack of jewelry.”

When entrepreneurs have support, Jenkins says it’s amazing what can be accomplished.

“It literally just turns into something that you will look back and you be like, ‘Wow, I did that. No, I did that,’” Jenkins said.

Jenkins says things have gone so well with her pop-up opportunity, that she signed an extension, and will stay there through September.

For more information on this small business retail space, visit the Downtown Raleigh Alliance website.