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Count It All Joy

By: Victoria L. Moore

Date Posted: 1998-02-28

Unique Creations, an upscale clothing boutique concession, located inside the Kinser Base Exchange, is setting the pace for fashion on Okinawa. Lawanda Crawford, the owner and operator of this impressive boutique, tells a remarkable story of how, through the power of prayer, she was able to open this trend setting store.

'It all began two years ago, when I had a meeting with, Mr. Nakaima, the AFEES manager,' she said. He was impressed with Lawanda's clothing line, however had no room in the store at the time. Lawanda remained determined to keep her dream, of opening a store alive. She began her operation on a smaller scale, out of Kuwie Lodge, when she first arrived on the island.

She always believed that she could make a difference in women's lives, by helping to build their self esteem. While on Okinawa she encountered many women who had been abused and suffered from low self esteem. She began a hair and beauty operation, to help women improve their personal appearance. The hair business did not turn out the way she intended. 'I lost a lot of friends,' she confided. 'Everyone loved the hair designs however they were less enthusiastic about paying for the service.' Although she fulfilled a strong desire to help women under stress, she could not afford the cost of the business. Her main goal, to open her boutique, remained elusive.

She started producing 'Virtuous Woman' fashion shows. This endeavor although highly acclaimed, by the 525 attendees, opened her to ridicule by several people that didn't want her business to succeed. She encountered numerous phone calls from people that assumed her business was illegal. She even found herself under investigation by the Criminal Investigative Division, CID. This circumstance however only fueled her determination to see her dream come true. Once cleared by CID, she remained focused and determined to make her dream, of opening a store, a reality.

Mr. Nakaima offered her a spot at the Courtney Base Exchange. It was at that time that she learned that she was pregnant and her dream again had to be put on hold. She is introduced to Mr. Goya, the new store manager, after Mr. Nakaima's retirement. He was also impressed by the line of clothes and her suave business ethic and continued to try to find a place for her in the exchange.

She experienced many set backs with her business. Through it all she remained prayerful and determined to achieve her goals.

She was finally offered the shop she currently occupies. Although the shop is only open part-time, she is able to offer a line of clothing and shoes, rarely seen in a base exchange.

She gains encouragement and support from her spouse and children who are a constant reminder of why she retains her strength and strong belief that, "I can do all things though Christ that strengthens me."

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