Venita Allen doesn’t just sell all natural soaps and other homemade skin care products from her Hamilton business, LahVDah. She’s a merchant of hope, bringing people and businesses together for the common good, she said.
Allen was born and raised in Hamilton and her family owns Allen’s Meat Market.
“I’ve always been a true supporter of local, and buying from small businesses,” she said.
The boutique, which employs about a dozen people including a massage therapist, launched at 408 Main St. in Hamilton in 2016 after 13 years at Findlay Market. It offers Allen’s homemade artisan soap, body wash, lotion, lip balm, bath bombs, bubble cakes, beauty bars, body butter and face masks, as well as jewelry and clothing.
Where others see challenges in operating a business, Allen, a retired Butler County Sheriff’s Office deputy, prefers to see opportunities. When a road improvement project shut down portions of Main Street last year, she created a weekly Sunday morning “flash sale” advertising through social media the dozen or so products as 50 percent off.
“That made people come into my store,” she said. “I knew it was either have them come in or go out of business. When they came in to pick up their stuff, they would buy other things.”
Allen invested the revenue from those sales and, with the help of local design studio LemonGrenade Creative, rebranded LahVDah by revamping its logo and labels. She also redecorated the shop to create a more “at-home” vibe.
“I couldn’t decide on the chandeliers, so I picked 11 of them,” Allen said.
Getting creative about celebrating the rebranding, she organized a “grand re-opening” event and offered shopping bags full of about $100 worth of merchandise from her shop and a handful of other local businesses, including Fleurish Home, HIP Boutique, Dance2Fit with Sylvia, Miller Street Boutique and others.
The March 30 celebration saw loyal customers camping out the previous night to be among the first 50 in line for the Saturday morning goodies. Those who didn’t snag the swag still stuck around for the camaraderie and fellowship.
“I don’t call them customers. I call them family,” said Allen.
That’s because owning a business isn’t just getting people in the door to rack up revenue, she said.
”You have to know them,” she said. “You have to know who they are. They became family to you. When you build that relationship, you have 500 to 700 people waiting for you who start (waiting in line) at 9:30 at night. It was very emotional to see.”
Allen said LahVDah see people driving in from as far away as Lancaster, Pennsylvania.; Chautauqua, Indiana; Florence, Kentucky and Michigan just to check out the boutique.
The name LahVDah is a play off the “la-dee-da” reaction Allen said she expressed when faced with someone who told her she wouldn’t get far in life. Personalizing the phrase, she replaced the middle of the word with a “V.”
“V for Venita, V for Victory. I win,” she said.
Partnering with other businesses in Hamilton and the surrounding area to carry their products and have them carry LahVDah’s merchandise helps strengthen everyone involved, Allen said, creating success stories for the community and the county.
Being a part of that community also means helping out when local residents are facing challenging times. That’s when Allen springs into action, broadcasting to her more than 15,000 Facebook followers to ask them to partner with her to help someone out.
“I’m happy,” she said. “I’ve got what I want, but I love to see other people happy and I love to uplift other people and them there’s good out there, there’s good people out there.
“I mean, there’s so many bad things out there, but let’s just turn it around and let’s just be positive.”
Thank you for reading the Journal-News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Journal-News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.