Value of Choices
Shannon McLucas provides business solutions
When she first moved to Wilmington nearly twenty years ago, SHANNON MCLUCAS had a hard time finding a stylist who knew how to care for African American hair.
“I had dreadlocks in my hair, and I had nowhere to go to get them done,” McLucas recalls. “I was looking in the directories and I wouldn’t see any black salons listed that could handle dreadlocks.”
So, McLucas created a directory ad page, going door-to-door to meet people and learn about local hair salons and barbershops.
That endeavor helped lead her to found two Wilmington businesses – Choices Design, Copy & Print, and the Port City Gazette.
“I got a lot of interest in people asking me on the side to do graphic designing for them and doing print work,” McLucas says of her work on the ad page, which she called Style Scene. “I was taking it to different print shops around town, and then it got to the point where I was getting overwhelmed.”
A mentor suggested she start her own print shop, and she founded Choices in 2007.
“As soon as I started that we immediately had customers,” McLucas says.
Located on Princess Street in downtown Wilmington, the family-run business creates brochures, custom T-shirts, business cards, letterheads, banners, postcards, promotional materials, and more.
McLucas, originally from Fayetteville, runs Choices with her husband LAVALL MCLUCAS, and she has previously done graphic design work for his clothing line, Earthworm Clothing. The couple has four children.
“We had a little daycare set up in the back of the office for two years,” Shannon McLucas says. “I really do like having a family business they can come to.”
While Shannon McLucas had stopped her Style Scene work, she began highlighting local businesses again in 2016 when she founded the Port City Gazette – a directory and event calendar for black and minority-owned businesses. The magazine also features articles on business topics, health issues, and fiction writing.
“My customer list in Choices was very, very long and I noticed that we had a very large amount of black businesses,” she says. “We were getting a lot of feedback about people not supporting black businesses and there not being that many… I was thinking if I could just list these businesses and get them out there, people would know.
“There are a ton of black businesses in the city that people just didn’t know about.”
WILMA: Tell us about Choices Design, Copy & Print.
McLucas: “I enjoy it because a lot of our customers are really generally happy with the work that we do or are just happy that we were able to help them in a crunch. I really like bringing that gratification to them, number one. Number two, I like working for myself. But I really enjoy doing it for my children, so that they can see that their mom and dad have worked hard all their lives.”
WILMA: What business trends have you noticed recently during COVID?
McLucas: “When COVID first hit and everything shut down, this would have been during the racial injustices when that started. Right before they did the shutdown, we started seeing a lot of people who were looking around, especially in Wilmington, and really wanting to support Black businesses and going out of their way to do that. And they may or may not have been Black. And we really appreciated that.”
WILMA: What are some of your future goals?
McLucas: “With Port City Gazette I would love for that to grow into more of a fuller, more staffed magazine. I would love to transition to a more interactive directory online so that people can search by category and list and advertise.”
To view more of photographer Michael Cline Spencer’s work, go to michaelclinephoto.com.
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