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Portsmouth Native and Award-Winning Military Spouse Entrepreneur Opens New Location in Downtown Portsmouth

Special Guest Virginia Senator Tim Kaine

PORTSMOUTH, VA - Lakesha Cole, creator of She Swank Marketplace – a curated boutique for women and moms, is pleased to announce the October 20th Welcome Party for her new location in downtown Portsmouth, VA located at 431 High St, from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Cole, a Marine wife and mother of three pursued her entrepreneurial passion after realizing the challenges attached to maintaining a career around the demands of military life. Unemployment rates among military spouses are estimated to be as much as three times higher than for civilians, according to the 2017 Military Family Support Programming Survey Report, released by the Military Family Advisory Network (MFAN). Frequent moves, military training and deployments, and inadequate childcare options contribute to these rates.

In 2009, while living in Camp Pendleton, California, Cole decided to make her business idea a reality. She Swank Marketplace served customers online and later at a brick-and-mortar location in Okinawa, Japan. Cole relocated to Camp Lejeune, NC in 2016 due to military orders and she transitioned her company with her. Cole’s husband retired from the Marine Corps this summer, and instead of transitioning the company again she decided to expand. Each location is designed to emphasize locally-made and handmade items that cannot be found in big-box stores.

“My vision for She Swank Marketplace has always been to create an experience for our customers through memorable gifts that are unique to our location," Lakesha Cole, who was selected as the 2014 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year, said. My focus remains in using this business as a vehicle to give back and create goodwill in the community that we call home."

At the Welcome Party, sponsored by Armed Forces Insurance, there will be refreshments, giveaways, and a meet and greet with Virginia Senator Tim Kaine from 3:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. Kaine also invited Cole to be his guest to the State of the Union Address as a way to highlight the service of military families and build bipartisan support to address military spouse unemployment. Kaine, co-chair of the Senate Military Family Caucus and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, introduced new legislation to help reduce military spouse unemployment. Provisions from the Military Spouse Employment Act of 2018 and Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act of 2018 were included in the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), signed by President Trump on August 13.

“We’re so proud of Lakesha Cole and her role as a military spouse and entrepreneur,” said Lori Simmons, Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer, Armed Forces Insurance. “She is a mentor to others as well as a wife, mother and role model. We’re proud to sponsor the Welcome Party for She Swank Marketplace in Portsmouth and know it will be a great success.”

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About Armed Forces Insurance: AFI was founded in 1887 by military leaders with a single mission: to protect the property of those who protect our nation. The company provides premium quality, competitively-priced property and casualty insurance to military professionals throughout the United States and overseas. AFI understands that military members have unique circumstances and insurance needs, enabling the company to offer a level of personalized service that’s unequaled in the industry. For more information, visit the website at www.afi.org or call 1-800-495-8234.

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