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Growing Forward with the Owners’ Dividend: Naomi

Perspective from Naomi, ESL personal and business banking member

Naomi has been an ESL member for more than 10 years—for both personal banking and business banking. She’s a lifelong Rochesterian and the proud owner of Xstravagance Designs, a clothing and resort-wear boutique with a mission of allowing your beauty to exude inside.

Naomi launched the business 15 years ago after learning to sew in the spare bedroom of her apartment. Today, Xstravagance’s University Ave. studio creates handmade designs, sketches, and pattern drafts that are made and sewn from sustainable materials, more than 90% of which eliminate textile waste from landfills.

Like many, Naomi’s work as a small business owner can be a rollercoaster of ups and downs—including finances. A few years ago, after COVID hit, she wasn’t sure how to make ends meet. Until she logged into the ESL Mobile Banking app and saw surprise money in one of her accounts. That Owners’ Dividend, she says, brought her to tears. “It gave me a little bit of hope.”

Many business owners start without a business degree and haven’t taken formal money management courses. Over the years, Naomi has grown through her own “eye opening” moments. Today, uses more wisdom when making financial decisions. Her theory today is to “be like the ant”: they’re always storing up food, constantly working, making a surplus, and saving away. That’s what she does with her Owners’ Dividend payouts. Having unexpected money in her account supported her through a tough period, and she’s stored it away since “for a rainy day.”

As a small business owner, Naomi feels like herself. “You feel like you,” she said. “Especially for women and their identity, if you have a family or are married, you don’t want to lose your sense of individuality. Once I started pursuing entrepreneurship, I felt like me for once.”

When the Owners’ Dividend first appeared in her account—right when she needed some light and hope—it gave her an opportunity to catch up, and then to get ahead.

That’s when she got her power back—after being told it was too late to start a career in fashion and that it wasn’t sustainable. Naomi was determined to not be molded. Rather, she chose to be brave and bold, to work for herself. And sometimes that means pulling an all-nighter because she needs to get an order out the next day. But even then, she says, entrepreneurship is “the best thing ever.”

Naomi sees the ESL Owners’ Dividend as a once-a-year blessing and a reminder to keep going. At first, it allowed her to pay off business expenses, but today, she’s able to put it away. It’s helped her mindset: With wisdom, preparation and experience, you know that having something saved means you don’t have to worry about overdrawing.

She’s also never had a financial institution like ESL—one where she’s always been happy and is proud to be a part of a financial institution that helps people break barriers, because if no one gives people a chance to get ahead, those barriers continue through generations. Until someone gets an opportunity, Naomi says, the cycle continues. ESL gives those opportunities.

When the Owners’ Dividend first appeared in Naomi’s account—right when she needed some light and hope—it gave her an opportunity to catch up, and then to get ahead. It was a reminder that brighter days would be ahead.

And they were.

The individual Owners’ Dividend payout amounts ESL members receive are based on established Owners’ Dividend criteria. For more information about the criteria, please visit Qualification for the Owners’ Dividend is subject to eligibility requirements and payment of the Owners’ Dividend is not guaranteed.