The Best Way to Spend Small Business Saturday, Supporting Black Owned at The Holiday Edition of the Black Arts Love Mixer and Marketplace
Saturday, November 26, 2016, The Holiday Edition of the Black Arts Love Mixer and Marketplace gave Seattle residents a chance to shop with local Black owned businesses and artists. I was one of the 1st 100 guests who received a free Shop Small tote that was loaded with a Black Art T-Shirt, #ShopSmall Sticker, the Black Art Materials Holiday Sale Magazine and the Seattle Medium Newspaper.
After signing in at the welcome table and receiving a raffle ticket I circled around each booth that was arranged along the perimeter of Franklin High School’s gymnasium. There was a DJ playing live music and there were also refreshments served at the free event. A painting class for kids was also held, taught by LeShawn Gamble, the Director of Renaissance 21, an organization dedicated to creating equity and changing the lives of the youth in our community using art, activism, and advocacy.
I came into the gym prepared for a haul and the first table that caught my eye was Lakisha Gavin’s Thinking Naturally with all natural hair and body products. I’m a sucker for anything that has to do with natural hair so I had to get the shea butter with lavender and peppermint oil, it was packaged in a cute reusable 8oz glass container.
After that I was excited to purchase some apparel so I couldn’t help but stop at Domizign, his slogan, “Dominant design 4 dominant people” would be enough to catch my attention, but what caught my eye were his hat designs. There were 2 available at this event and I couldn’t help but get one of each, both caps had a melinated hand holding up the ‘W’ symbol in the center. The packaging is just as unique as the designs on the caps, they make great gifts that are perfect for the holidays. To match the hats, I purchased another T-Shirt from OLU production. When I approached the table I was greeted by a young man, Olu Wes-Lee Dixon, the proceeds from his shirt sales go towards his line of Up-timistic gear for children, youth and adults. His T-shirt designs are inspiring, creative, empowering and afro-centric. Along with being an entrepreneur Olu is also a musician playing steel pans, Djembe drum, trumpet and piano. Seeing young Black entrepenuaers was another perk of going to the mixer. Going to this Market allowed for the chance to meet the creators behind the designs that we are usually, as Black business owners, restricted to selling online.
In addition to apparel there were also published authors at the Mixer. Tayna Simpson, a young author of “How to Stop Bullying” and her mother, Sharan Blake, author of “The Thought Detox” were distributing their books at the Mixer. Both Sharon and her daughter’s books were soul enriching titles targeted towards improving one’s emotional and social well being.
Seeing families, parents alongside their children was another great part of attending this event. A second, pair of family authors that I’m glad to have met were Kiana Davis, author of “Digging for Roots”, and Leija Farr, author of “Outweigh Gravity”. Kiana was able to sign my copy of her poetry book and the young girl pictured on the cover is her niece, Leija. The cover’s design, with Davis pictured as a young girl on the back cover, represents the full circle. Here I was able to have a chance to talk to authors about the inspiration behind their work and the thought behind their designs.
Jeffrey Cheatham’s children book “Why is Jane So Mad?” told the story of a young boy trying to cheer up his friend. “There aren’t any stories like this one,” Jeffery explained and I know that today there were only a small fraction of children’s books staring black characters and black families. In this story children can see the effect that the time or a lack of time spent with their parents can have on their emotions.
One of the best things about attending the Black Arts Love Mixer and Marketplace was meeting the creators, owners, artists and people behind the products. There were all types of services and products offered at the Mixer from clothing to publishing, financial services, health services, doll consultant, body butters, shoes, custom print and apparel designs, jewelry, books, electronics and even a carpenter.
I drove to Seattle from my salon in Lynnwood to attend this event because any opportunity to support Black owned [insert ANYTHING here] is a chance for me to keep my money in my own community, to give back to myself.
I did not spend one dollar in this mall on Black Friday yesterday. I didn’t rush into any stores or wait in anyones line for a deal. We must understand that Black business owners have been barred from retail success and our youth still aren’t encouraged to be business owners. There aren’t any black owned business in my local mall and the number of Black owned businesses I do see in other areas are very limited. Many of our business endeavors fail because we fail to see the value in supporting each other. When we look for deals or affordability over the value of keeping the money in our community, then we’ll never win. Our mindset needs to be focused on supporting our community no matter the cost because spending an extra few dollars in our community over taking money out of it is not saving any money, but simply throwing it way. I saved my money for Small Business Saturday and this was the best place to go for a small Black Owned Business Saturday. For all of the vendors names and information about the event see their Facebook Page. All of the businesses information that I collected we be placed into the Seattle Black Owned Business Directory on my site. On my twitter @SawariMi is where you can find some pictures of the products I purchased.