I can safely say that this mixer is one of my favorite Black owned business events in the Seattle area, the Black Love Arts Mixer hosted at Franklin High School. When I arrived at the mixer I walked into a performance by J-dash, a rapper from Seattle. Along with him there were other live music and spoken word performances such as Nakeya and Jessica Isabell two young ladies who mixed their spoken word poetry with acapella singing. The event was hosted by live DJ Kriz Kyiz. I couldn’t tell just by the tunes and the entertainment that the Black Love Arts Mixer and Marketplace stepped up their game for this season, and I can’t wait for the next.
As many of you may know I’m a book nerd. So I couldn’t help but check out the many authors that were present at the event. I left with three signed titles. Two of which were from Jake Corner Shadows from the Past and The Baytown Snatchings (2 for $20). Corner’s first book, Shadows from the Past is dedicated to his beautiful wife Sharon. The couple shared a booth where she displayed her custom sewing and design products “Royalwear” from her I purchased a custom designed orange tote bag ($20) as a gift for my mother. Last season’s mixer I hadn’t purchased any novels, but after hearing the passionate stories behind these authors’ creations I couldn’t help but support. Corner described his African American mystery novels to me in great detail. What won me over were the historical narratives of the text, one based in the 1920s and the other based in the 1940s about Black men who struggled with their identity and supporting their families while growing up in the Southern United States. I was eager to learn more about the obstacles these men faced that were unique to each time period. The last of the three books I purchased was by Kai Storm, Alani’s Bigger Hustle ($15). Although the name of the main character definitely caught my attention, due to it’s striking similarity to my own, I purchased the book because of its story, following the life of a young girl in Brooklyn, New York. She published through 21st Street a Black owned Michigan based publisher. I love to support Black female authors, especially when their work focuses on the identity of Black womanhood. I’m looking forward to reading and reviewing each of these books in the Book Review section of my site, stay tuned.
In addition to writers there were multiple artists featured at the Mixer. One set of pieces that caught my attention were from Natty Dread Illustration. After struggling to pick my favorites of his painting to purchase I ended up selecting four prints (2 for $15). Lucian Lekea’s work reflects his own life experiences, for example one of his pieces that I selected was a painting of his hometown. The way that Lucian depicts Black women in a light of strength and beauty is what originally drew me to his work.
During the last Holiday Edition Black Arts Mixer, food wasn’t on my mind but this time food truck vendors Super Dawgs and Word of Mouth brought delicious flavor to the mixer. When I saw the heavily stacked hot dogs I got excited, now I could spend hours at the mixer: shop, eat and get my workout done all in the same place. Did I say workout? Yes! Columbia City Fitness was present at the event, offering discounted workout sessions while Deidre Hairston Daymon provided on site Zumba Lessons. Participants gathered i the center of the gym to get their workout on and dance in a Congo line around the arena. Columbia City Fitness has two Seattle locations (Rainier and Jackson) that have several heavyweight champions and record holders on staff. I’m looking forward to taking advantage of my discounted session.
Along with artists, writers, health and fitness there were also several vendors offering beautiful clothing and accessories. When I got to Kemexkeme’s booth, my eyes were immediately caught by a set of purple Nina Simone circle earrings ($15). “Nina Simone! I’ll take those!” I pointed out. Keme, the artist, teased that my reaction was the quickest decision they’d seen all day. I loved the earrings at first sight, so what better way to show love for an artist’s work than with an enthusiastic purchase? I don’t think there’s any better way. Along with these, I got another pair of braided hoop earrings ($6) from The Rebel Itch, her booth was beautifully designed with a natural, earthy vibe; she’s even custom designed the stand that her earrings were displayed on. The intricate designs and creative booths were part of the many reasons why I love the accessories I find at these Mixers.
As I was proudly wearing my fro at the event I couldn’t help but stop by Thinking Naturally to look at some hair and body products. During the Holiday Mixer I was able to pick up some Shea butter mix and I was excited to see that there were some new products being offered. I think a lot of naturals struggle to find the perfect shampoo so when I saw Thinking Naturally’s Shampoo Onyx ($7) made with African Black Soap I had to buy it! It comes in an applicator bottle which makes it much easier to get through curls and I’m looking forward to trying it on my fro.
The mixer also provided opportunities for business development and networking. The Women in Business Expo Group (WIBEG) offered an opportunity to empower small business owners by providing resources. WIBEG hosts regular meetings to allow entrepreneurs to meet, network, collaborate, offer discounted products/services and facilitate community development and engagement. As a small business owner myself I was excited to learn about WIBEG, they also distributed a Black Business Directory that lists Black Businesses owners all throughout the Seattle metropolitan area.
Along with all of this, just outside of the gym button pins were being made and painting classes were being taught by Renaissance 21 Fine Art and Youth Advocacy. If you love to support Black owned than the Black Arts Love Mixer is the place to be, each season the event is growing with more vendors, food options, activities, participants, shoppers, discounts and opportunities for networking and collaboration. Don’t miss the next Mixer, find all the dates here and read my piece on the last Holiday Mixer here.