Che’Lesa English has always enjoyed working with numbers. It made sense that she studied accounting at the University of Cincinnati and now runs her own tax prep business, Freedom Elite Tax Services, in a storefront in Paddock Hills.
She enjoys the work, but dealing with people’s identity is serious work. It’s strictly business, she says, and she wanted to incorporate a little fun into the workday. Enter Che’ Chic, a shoe and accessory store in the same storefront as Freedom Elite. “It’s fun. It’s free flowing. It’s relaxing. It’s fashion. It’s style,” English says. “Che’ Chic is my break.”
English opened Che’ Chic last June in the midst of the pandemic. The question of What do I do with myself? that so many felt during lockdown gave English the inspiration—and the time—she needed to move forward with the business. The free time made figuring the ins and outs of a new business a tad easier than it otherwise might have been, but there were stumbling blocks. Like shipping, especially for overseas products. “I have packages that literally took three months to arrive,” she says. “It was harder than what I thought it would be to locate different vendors.”
Seven months in, however, her storefront is so successful that she can’t keep certain items on the shelves. Customers love her berets, which come in a rainbow of colors, from off white and charcoal to mustard and maroon; and they love her over-the-knee boots like the chunky heeled, suede “Monica” boots that come in olive, camel, and wine.
English describes her inventory as classic. She doesn’t necessarily want to follow all the current trends. She doesn’t want a shopper to look at a purchase a year from now and think it’s out of style. “I want pieces that you can wear for years to come,” she says.
As Che’ Chic continues to grow, English hopes to expand her online presence. She intends to keep her storefront, but she dreams of one day having her own warehouse.
When English graduated from UC in 2008, she didn’t anticipate going the entrepreneurial route. Both of her parents are self-employed—Mom owns a hair salon in College Hill, and Dad is a chef—and she figured she’d try a different path. She worked in corporate banking for about nine years, but there was overlap with Freedom Elite. Eventually, her tax business required more time than the evenings-and-weekend schedule she’d set aside, so she decided to leave banking and go full-time with Freedom Elite.
She’s worked for herself for two years now, and the best parts about it are setting her own schedule and knowing her hard work will pay off. “With corporate jobs, no matter how hard I worked,” she says, “it was going to always be a cap on my income.”
Che’ Chic, 4439 Reading Rd., Paddock Hills, (513) 918-2012