Busta’s Person of the Week: Meet the phenomenal Deborah L. Sims

Deborah L. Sims

Busta’s Person of the Week: Meet the phenomenal Deborah L. Sims
February 20
04:15 2020

By Busta Brown

My Person of the Week is all about empowering others and is a humble servant in the beautiful city of Winston-Salem. What I respect and admire most about this phenomenal woman is her philosophy: “I don’t like to spend much time talking about myself. I’d rather lift up others.” She explained, “When I was young, my grandfather told me that I was so sensitive to other people’s issues, I was so concerned about everybody else, and you need to be concerned about yourself. He said, ‘but I believe God will use that for you’.” 

The words of Deborah L. Sims’ grandfather were prophetic. She continued, “The concerns I had for others pulled me into the passion and compassion I have for the issues that women deal with every day. Watching my mother also drew me into helping others. She taught me how to take care of my grandmother, my grandfather and my aunt, who had Down’s syndrome. And she would walk every day to go take care of them. My mother was the real Madea. Everyone would come over to our house for dinner. We had that house,” Deborah said while laughing out loud. She had me laughing as well. 

Sims’ personality is fun, exciting, entertaining, and also inspiring. It’s clear she got it from her mama. “My dear mother, Everlene Sims Williams, made everything happen for my family. She was truly an entrepreneur in her own right, and taught me everything I know about handling business.” 

It was also clear that the matriarch of the family taught Deborah that failure wasn’t an option. After graduating from West Forsyth High School in 1985, she completed her studies at North Carolina Central University in 1991. “I walked across the stage with my son Joshua in my womb. Twenty-three years later, he graduated from the same university. My husband and I added our daughters Denea and Essence Crowell to the family.” 

Sims was living her best life, but then in 1993, she lost her father, Harry L. Williams, and then her mother, Everlene Sims Williams, passed in 1998. Everlene planted a seed into her daughter’s spirit before she transitioned. “My mother had a lot of stuff, so I asked her what would she have me to do with it? She said, ‘Sell it. That’s your gift and I want you to use your gift. This stuff is going to make room for whatever you need,’” said Sims. 

Sims has always served the Winston-Salem community. In 2000, she started the mentoring program, Divinity. “It was a very successful summer and after-school program. We had a waiting list,” said Sims. 

Twenty years later, God rewarded Sims. The Closet began in August of 2016. “My daughter and I started on Facebook Live. I took all the things that I had purchased and I just wanted to style women; it’s always been my passion. So, we turned on that camera, Busta, and it’s been on ever since. We had over a thousand views during our first live stream. I give all the credit to my mother.” 

Their fan base grew and they moved to 2533 Waughtown St. in Winston-Salem. But the Twin City native never forgot her grandfather’s words of wisdom: God will turn her concern for others into a blessing. Deborah honored his words and has turned The Closet into much more than a clothing store. “It’s bigger than women coming to buy merchandise. It’s so much bigger than that. I don’t think there’s been a time that women came into the store, purchased their items and then left. I have a table in the middle of my store and we sit there and have discussions. We share our joy and pain. So, it’s much bigger than just a clothing store. We bond with each other. Sometimes people come in and just talk to me, and it’s also a great networking spot. It’s almost similar to the barbershop for men. And it gives me a chance to style women, and put them in beautiful quality merchandise. I don’t charge an arm and a leg for it. It’s important for me that my customers leave feeling beautiful inside and out. My expertise is on how to style for less, and most importantly, build relationships.”

The Closet has become a counterpart for Sims’ annual event, Diva Day Brunch. After attending The Women’s Empowerment Conference in Raleigh, she was extremely excited to share her experience with her friends. Yet, the excitement nearly pulled her into a depression “… because what I saw and experienced in Raleigh was missing here in Winston. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I felt Winston-Salem needed something like this. I consumed it so much, so I prayed and asked God, what should I do? What came immediately into my spirit was, faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. The annual Diva Day Brunch was birthed Nov. 10, 2018.” The event honors and crowns some of the most powerful women in Winston-Salem, such as author, speaker and entrepreneur Mercedes L. Miller, and others. 

During one of her Diva Day Brunches, the ladies surprised Deborah with a well-deserved crown. The most recent brunch was Jan. 24 and 25. Sims said that she’s looking forward to many more years of Diva Weekends. 

“I’m so grateful and thankful and that God would allow this little old home girl from the Twin City to share in such a remarkable salutation with the Divas of the Triad.” 

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