Amanda King @kingamandap
On the night of May 30, Wilbourn Sisters Designs co-owner Janice Wilbourn was shocked as protesters on Peachtree Street in Atlanta began breaking display windows and the front door of her business.
Wilbourn, who was inside the design studio at the time, went to the basement for safety, but her business was destroyed by shattered glass. Already struggling and in the process of repurposing her business due to COVID-19, Wilbourn wasn’t sure what to do.
That’s when Evans High graduate CJ Pearson contacted her about financially assisting her and other businesses in the Atlanta area and throughout the country including Dallas and St. Paul. He said he wanted to help black business owners rebuild.
“I can only imagine the stress that some of the owners are experiencing especially after having to close because of COVID,” he said.
Pearson established a crowd-sourcing site to allow people to donate funds to assist those owners. He set a goal of $30,000 but was able to raise $64,000 in 24 hours. The campaign ended after one week and Pearson was able to raise over $160,000 from people across the country.
Wilbourn received $10,000 which she said will help purchase new sewing machines as she turns her store of upscale designs for shoppers into a sewing school. She said she is overwhelmed by Pearson’s willingness to assist her business.
“He has the same spirit as I do and I love that,” she said.
Pearson said he has been working with the Georgia Association of Minority Entrepreneurs and businesses in Dallas and Minneapolis to disperse remaining funds. He said disbursement of funds will be accounted for and records will be maintained.