CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The COVID-19 pandemic has made many rethink their careers and what truly makes them happy.
One local woman, Monica Briones, began a new business during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Just a few years ago, Briones worked in New York City in the high-profile fashion industry.
"I started out at Vera Wang working in PR, and then went around and started to produce fashion photoshoots for different companies," she said.
Briones then found out she had ovarian cancer, and she came back to Texas. Then, just a couple years into remission, Briones found a new career in real estate.
"It's because of that profession and having the ability to go at my own pace that I was able to start sewing and being creative," she said.
She decided to use her sewing skills to make masks for the community in order to help make ends meet.
"Having those finances roll, in I became more confident in being more creative and I thought, why don't I sew a bikini?"
Briones said it was a bit scary sewing fabric like nylon and spandex, but it was a fulfilling making her own swimsuit.
Women's Entrepreneur Society of Corpus Christi President Nikki Riojas said she has seen a surge in female-run businesses just this year.
"Some of them, it's because they've had their kids at home, or maybe their position got eliminated," she said. "Or, because they're spending so much more time at home they're able to focus on passion projects that they haven't been able to do."
As the founder and president of WES-CC, Riojas hopes to reach out to other female entrepreneurs. She recently started consulting through the Small Business Development Center at Del Mar College.
Riojas works with small business owners, such as Briones, to focus on areas of marketing, e-commerce, social media and creative services while they maneuver thorugh the pandemic.
"It's just awesome to be behind the machine, or if I'm not sewing them, to pick them and buy them from local designers to national designers and put it out there."
With experience having her own businesses in NYC and working in fashion, Briones decided to open her own swimsuit boutique, Lynn Swim & Co. Currently, she creates and packages from her apartment in downtown Corpus Christi, but hopes to open a shop in the near future.
"I found peace in the Coastal Bend, and I found recovery here," she said. "I love my hometown."