Washington opens Ra’babs on faith

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 27, 2008

NATCHEZ — For years, Regina Washington was alternately on disability or working from home, trapped in what she admits was a cycle of poverty.

But she also had a dream of leaving that cycle by owning her own business, and Jan. 12 of this year, she took a step of faith and opened Ra’babs Fashion Outlet.

Located at 317 D’Evereux Drive, Ra’babs Fashion Outlet is still a small store, a few racks of clothes, hair accessories and gift baskets squeezed in 700 square feet.

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But Washington said her dream is to expand, and that, despite its small size, the store has done incredibly well since opening.

“My goal is to offer nice clothes at outlet prices for those who can’t necessarily afford them at a retail price,” she said.

Washington said when she was working from home, her mother pushed her to pursue her dream of owning and operating a business.

The final push came when she started attending a new church — New Hope Missionary Baptist Church —about a year and a half ago.

The pastor there, the Rev. Stanley Searcy Sr., was teaching about becoming an entrepreneur and coming out of poverty.

“The first time I went there, the more I wanted to go,” she said. “It got to the point where he kept teaching on doing these things and how to do them.”

So, with the encouragement of her pastor and several church members, Washington began to save from her working-from-home earnings for her business — she opened the store out of pocket — and began looking for a space.

“I had been looking for a space for months,” she said.

Finally, a man from her church who had had a business located in the space where Ra’babs is now recommended she call the people who own the space — who also turned out to be church members.

“I called her and asked about the space, and she asked me if I wanted to see it,” Washington said. “I said, ‘I’ve already been in there,’ so I signed the agreement and she gave me the key.”

Washington said two key things have helped her open the business.

“First, I had to trust God,” she said. “Second, I had all these people — my mom, my pastor and my church family — backing me. They all made it happen.”

Ra’babs Fashion Outlet can be reached by phone at 601-446-9300.