A labor of loss: How a woman’s grief therapy turned into a business

 


Archette’s parents, Nell and Eugene Holmes.

Archette’s parents, Nell and Eugene Holmes.

Archette Holmes started sewing again after she lost her mother, Nell Holmes, to ovarian cancer in 2013. The sound of her mother’s old sewing machine took her back to her childhood home. Nell and her father Eugene (aka Gene) taught her how to sew when she was eight years old. Nell sewed patches on soldier’s uniforms and Gene specialized in men’s formal wear. 

“Out of grief therapy I began to sew again,” Archette remembers. “I sometimes challenged myself to make a new outfit for every day of the week.”

Archette continued sewing her own clothes for almost two years. Her skills caught other people’s attention. And while she secretly considered the possibility of making a business out of her hobby, she let those ideas pass her by— at first. 

But then one day when she was dining with her family at a Houston restaurant, something happened that made her see her future differently.  

“My son drew up my logo and gave it to me at the table, that was the moment when Genell’s Custom Designs was born,” she said. The name Genell being a fusion of her mother’s and father’s names, Gene and Nell.

Archette was weary at first, not knowing where to start. She studied journalism in college and up to that point, had dedicated her professional life to medical management. 

“Entrepreneurship was in my blood, it’s what my parents did, but at that time I didn’t see myself as an entrepreneur,” she admitted.


Archette Holmes smiling, wearing her own creations.

Archette Holmes smiling, wearing her own creations.

After reflecting about her purpose and sharing her ideas with family and friends, Archette was finally able to find her niche: African-inspired clothing and bonnets. 

“We are not able to just go into whatever store and get these pieces, so that was new to some people,” she said. 

Archette’s bonnets became a special hit after one of her best friends encouraged her to debut them in a renowned hair fashion show. She sold out in two days. 


Archette teaching one of her students how to sew.

Archette teaching one of her students how to sew.

Six years have passed since Genell’s Custom Designs was born and Archette continues to grow her business. 

“We started doing private sewing lessons and also a spin off of ‘painting with a twist’, we called it Sip & Sew,” she said. 

Archette makes it a priority to cultivate relationships based on trust and not money with her partners and clients. She believes that these relationships have helped set her business apart. 

“I work with people who have a vision and are passionate about what they do, just like me. Most of our business comes from word of mouth, people who have experienced us,” she said.

And while having other people’s trust is important, Archette believes the most important thing is trusting your own vision, your gut.

“When God gives you a vision, you sleep with that vision, eat with that vision, if it doesn’t leave you, it is meant for you to do,” she said. 


Archette accompanied by a group of models showcasing her designs.

Archette accompanied by a group of models showcasing her designs.

As for Archette’s future, the visionary entrepreneur is in the beginning stages of starting a transportation business, Rolling With God, with which she plans to give job opportunities to ex-felons, foster teenagers and people experiencing homelessness. 

When Archette is not working on one of her businesses or community projects, she is pushing the people she loves to fight for their dreams— especially her two favorite entrepreneurs, her children.

“If you stare at me long enough and you have an idea, I’m going to keep pushing you until you do it,” she said laughing. 

Archette is a JUST entrepreneur and pioneer. To keep up with her follow her businesses  via Genelle’s Boutique or Rolling With God

 

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