FORT MYERS, Fla. (WFTX) — Alanna Osborne has spent the last four years building her dream business in Fort Myers.
Osborne sells imported pottery from the lawn outside her shop, Beach Pottery, and created a café and space inside for artists and community events.
“It was nice to see it happen, and then it was all yanked away,” Osborne said.
Beach Pottery was gutted by Hurricane Ian, though many pieces of pottery were left undamaged.
“Pretty much, that’s all I have is pots, so that’s what I’m focused on — selling some pots,” Osborne said.
Osborne employs nine women at her store, and she’s been collecting donations through a crowdsourcing website to keep her staff paid.
“That was one of the first things I thought. I need to take care of my girls,” she said. “I’m so blessed and grateful for them."
“She’s a very selfless person,” Beach Pottery employee Amanda Carey said. “She’s definitely the backbone here.”
In addition to those donations, Osborne just received an unexpected gift from across the state. Inside an envelope, a letter that read in part 'We wanted to give you a donation for your clean-up and employee fund. Thank you for being an awesome customer over the years. It’s time for us to give back.'
The letter was accompanied by a generous check from one of the owners of Florida Sea Turtle Company, Stephanie Mandell, in West Palm Beach.
“They’re our neighbors. They’re our friends. They’re everything,” Mandell said.
Proceeds from the sale of Florida Sea Turtle bracelets typically go towards sea turtle conservation efforts, but they’ve made limited edition designs to benefit women owned businesses impacted by the storm.
Beach Pottery was the first to receive a check from Florida Sea Turtle Company. It’s a fitting and full-circle gesture, as Beach Pottery was one of the first retail locations in Florida to sell the sea turtle bracelets years ago when Florida Sea Turtle Company was just getting off the ground.
Osborne thanked Mandell by phone and said the entire donation would go into her fund to support Beach Pottery employees.
“It’s hard to feel sorry for yourself when everybody you know is going through the exact same thing. You just put one foot in front of the other and deal with what you can that day and help someone else out if you can and just move on,” Osborne said.
This story was originally reported on fox4now.com.