‘What use can I make of myself?’: Lawrence County business owner recognized with Eastern Kentucky Leadership Award

Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 12:18 PM EDT
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LOUISA, Ky. (WYMT) - With all of the challenges of the pandemic come stories of the people who have worked to shed light through the darkness.

From frontline workers to unexpected heroes, stories have been shared across the nation for more than one year. Cassie Burgess has one of those stories.

Burgess, a Louisa resident and mother of 2, started her own business with one goal in mind.

“It was just a long-time dream for me to have. I’ve always wanted to be my own boss I guess, you know, and still be able to be a mom and be able to do with my kids what I need to do,” Burgess said.

That living dream blossomed through several actual dreams, as Burgess created designs that came to her when she was asleep.

“It was really weird. I would dream about outfits and what I wanted them to look like. And then the next day, I would make them,” she laughed.

Burgess said the idea was unconventional since she never relied on patterns for the projects. However, that out-of-the-box thinking would pay off sooner than she knew.

Five years ago, Burgess opened a physical boutique after selling items from her home. Glitzy Boutique provided a space for the people in her community to drop by and pick up a little something special, made with love, or personalize something with a little hometown touch.

But, when the pandemic hit, her business was one of many impacted by its reach.

“Life is short. You know, and you never know what’s gonna happen. Everything can be fine one day and you can be hit with something the next day,” Burgess said.

Burgess was forced to close up shop, not sure what the future would look like for the dream she brought to life.

“I am at home. You know, my store is closed. There’s nobody coming in; there’s nobody shopping,” Burgess said. “So what can I do? What do I have? What use can I make of myself?”

Instead of spiraling, Burgess said she wanted to keep busy. So, she used the resources at hand to put her hands to work.

“Well, I can sew. You know, number one,” she said. “My friends, they don’t have masks. They’re running out of everything that they have.”

So, she soon began making masks and getting feedback from her friend in the medical field until she felt they were good enough to send to the front lines.

“It helps a little bit to know that you’re helping the ones that are really in it. They’re really saving lives. They’re, you know, in there,” she said. “And they’re helping people get better or they’re having to come and tell loved ones that they’ve lost a loved one. You know, I just couldn’t imagine being in that position.”

So, she continued to use her own position to help those who are saving lives- even though she had no clue what tomorrow would bring for her own livelihood.

“It’s always so much better to help others first,” she said. “Because God will always provide for you in the end.”

She said she has learned a lot about herself and her community by watching the response to COVID-19.

“Learning to cope and learning to deal and learning to adapt,” she said.

Adapting for the boutique meant taking a note from Team Kentucky and working together. Though she had to sell part of her boutique because of the hit, she was able to partner with friends to keep the doors open at the newly-named Nica Dawn Boutique.

“Just because the going gets tough doesn’t mean you stop going,” she said. “I felt like it was important for it to stay open. However we had to do it, you know?”

Because she wanted to make sure her Lawrence County community had a boutique to buy from when the world started turning once again.

For her service and dedication to the community in the face of the pandemic, Burgess is a 2021 East Kentucky Leadership Award winner. The East Kentucky Leadership Foundation Awards are being held virtually Thursday and Friday.

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