BEHIND THE BRAND
Soul Chain’s humble beginnings started with Mona McDonald, Sister Phyllis Black and best friend Jill Jackson in October 2001. The first store was located at 2324 NE Alberta St. in Portland, Oregon, a district called “Soul of the City,” Which also served as inspiration for naming the business. Combined with our first run of crochet stitches or “chain”, and “Soul Chain” was born.
The store name was transformative on so many levels. I also realized “Soul Chain” connects with my childhood. I learned to crochet from my beloved mother. A passionate and creative woman, my mother instilled in me a passion that would lead to discovery beyond measure. I didn’t realize it then, but those crochet lessons were actually life lessons! Whenever my mother picked up her crochet hook or knitting needles, it was out of necessity; to cope, be resourceful, express joy, or sadness, which manifested in beautiful works of art. I inherited that gift from her… bless her soul. I can hear her saying “Mona, you will figure it out”! My confidence grew; I believed I could do anything! Soul Chain exists today because of my mother’s loving spirit and ingenuity.
I’ll never forget the day I sold my first sweater; it was an off- the- shoulder basket weave stitched sweater with a matching hat. Approximately three hours after being displayed in the window, it sold! Needless to say, I learned quickly my creativity along with other elements of running a business include marketing, pricing, and customer service. That first sell meant lift off - now the real work began!
A business plan was developed and I relocating to NW 23rd Avenue. By then, I had become a Sole Proprietor. I secured small and large wholesale accounts which included Made in Oregon. My accounts grew. New Seasons Market, Timberline Lodge, and a myriad of high end boutiques throughout Oregon were added to my wholesale buyer portfolio. Then an unexpected acknowledgement; in 2004, I received the “Best Distribution Award” from Portland State University Business Outreach program for my outstanding accomplishments. My greatest accomplishment was being featured in Costco road show two consecutive seasons in 2010 and 2011 where my “Cotton Crochet sun dresses” were a hit!
That led to the decision to close my brick and mortar store and do wholesale only. I later graduated from the “Anchors” program with Micro Enterprises of Oregon, and in 2019, I received my Bachelors of Arts Degree from Portland State University with a minor in Business Administration.
I’m pleased to say, after a very long hiatus, Soul Chain has relaunched! I have expanded my line to include woven fabrics. Even though I’m a small minority owned enterprise, I continue to grow and expand my brand. The first phase is filling special orders. Today, my business model is more nimble to appeal to an evolving, virtual consumer marketplace, yet accessible to talk with you by phone.
I step out on faith, a solid business plan, and the creative acumen to succeed.
Thank you for supporting Black business! “Black lives Matter”.