Houston business owner creates quirky home shopping network to support local businesses

HOUSTON – Small businesses have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, but one local woman is helping them hit back. As a business owner herself, Carla Lyles, owner of Carla Sue Greeting Cards & Gifts, knows the best way to get through this is together. She’s helping her fellow entrepreneurs by showcasing their products in a hip and quirky version of the Home Shopping Network, which she dubs the Carla Sue Network.

“I was just watching the Home Shopping Network, and I thought to myself that I could probably do the same thing for people in my community, solely to help small businesses during this crisis,” said Lyles.

Lyles initially planned to start the endeavor to promote her own small business, but after checking in with some of her small business network friends, she realized this project could be so much more.

“I started to speak with my small business friends and just hearing their stories, which were just so heart wrenching," said Lyles. "I immediately went in the mode of like ‘How can I help everyone, including myself?’”

Being no stranger to using her creativity and resources to achieve her goals, Lyles quickly reached out to local business owners and got to work. Though she had little experience in video editing, she persevered and has since pushed out more than a dozen videos.

“I make a slideshow, and I do a little voiceover - put on my best Home Shopping Network voice,” said Lyles. “I’m still trying to navigate through it, so I’m not the best, but I’m getting better everyday, for sure.”

Business owners have reached out to Lyles, expressing their gratitude for her hard work in promoting their products. Her videos have helped them gain new sales leads and garner more followers on social media, which has been a critical tool for many small businesses as stay-home orders remain in place.

Lilly Belle Jewelry Co- Carla Sue Network

Welcome to the Carla Sue Shopping Network. A home shopping network for my small business homies during this pandemic! . . The next feature is @lillybellejewelryco. I had to record this like a million times. I was talking way too much about how we met, and her background in art. Every business featured is insanely passionate about their craft and @lillybellejewelryco is no different! Please go give them a follow. Another amazing brand with an amazing cause! . . #lillybellejewelryco #lillybelle #animalshelter #rescueanimals #makersgonnamake #handcrafted #handmade #houstonhandmade #htown #houston #love #proud #creativeentrepreneur #creativeinQUARANTINE#handcraftedjewelry #texas #htx

Posted by Carla Sue Network on Monday, April 20, 2020

“That’s all I wanted, was just them to be able to get the proper support during this time because small businesses are suffering pretty bad right now,” said Lyles.

Lyles hopes her videos will encourage consumers to shop local over brand names. In her opinion, big box stores will be able to weather the financial strain much better than small businesses, a lot of which rely on markets and festivals that have been suspended during the pandemic.

“You can buy everything you need right here locally,” said Lyles. “We see a lot of the same businesses at these markets, and we get to know each other. We get to know each other’s families. It’s a really strong community here in Houston.”

For the full story, watch the video above. To connect with Carla, click here.

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