By Kiara Thomas

The Black Business Bazaar hosted by the Black Student Union on April 4 allowed students the opportunity to buy from black-owned businesses on campus.  Vendors who sold food services, skin care, hair care and art lined the perimeter of the GLS Center.

“A year ago I [burned] my face and my hands [with hot oil]. I didn’t go to the doctor,” Kaydon Davis, the owner of Island Soul and Natural Beauty Express, said.  “I made my own treatments for the burn and it worked – the scars are gone. [That’s when] I decided to share the products with the world.”

Natural soaps and body butters, two named Rose Petals and Eucalyptus Aloe, were just some the products Davis had on his table.  He started operating in February and his products were on two shelves, at Edge of the Woods in Connecticut and Back to Basics in Rocky Point.

While Davis was the oldest business owner there, many of the students were embarking on their first one. Sayidana Brannan-Douglas the owner of SBD Digital Productions started her business more than a year ago.

“I liked that I started [my business] in college because it gave me the experience to start without all of the worries people tend to have when they have a business after college and out in the real world,” Brannan-Douglas said. “I was able to start it here, just as a passion project and almost like a hobbie and then I was able to turn it into a business.”

The technology systems management major and digital arts minor started her craft in fourth grade and self-taught herself design through college, making flyers for clubs on campus, mixtapes, promotion videos, illusion pictures and more.  

“It’s important that we circulate wealth within [the black] community. A lot of different communities always spend within their own communities first before they spend outside of their community and that’s how they grow financially as a community and together,” Brannan-Douglas said.

Like Branna-Douglas, many of the business owners saw the importance of hosting an event showcasing black owned business to circulate wealth within the black community. According to the 2019 Trends – African-Americans In Business by Guidant Financial, the number one motivation for African Americans who opened up their own business was to pursue their passions.  Following up as number two was that they were ready to become their own boss.

“All the services that are here we are going to purchase anyway,” Isaiah Pluviose, the owner of Mr. Fete’s Kitchen, said.  “People have to eat. People are going to buy soap. They’re going to buy cake. They’re going to get their hair done. These are things we’re going to do regardless.  I might as well support my friend who sitting right next to me than to go buy a wig from halfway across the country,” he said beside Shelby Williams, the owner of the wig company Laced By Goldiva.

Williams, who made wigs from hand for three years, just restarted her craft with encouragement from her friends and family.

“Don’t be scared to put yourself out there,” she said for what advice she’d give young minorities who want to start a business.  “There is always something out there for you. You should be proud to showcase your work. Somebody will love it.”

While most of the natural hair care and skin care products at the bazaar consisted of natural ingredients, Yark Beyan, from African Glow n’ Grow, had her ingredients imported from Liberia and Ghana.  The 2018 Wolfie Tank winner receives the ingredient with the help of her father.

“I was connected to the West African region, and I saw these women … who [had] these really phenomenal raw ingredients that people here want,” Beyan, who was born in Liberia, said.  “I’m looking for a way to connect that gap.”

Beyan who is currently making her hair products in her mother’s basement, like most of the students at the bazaar hoped to expand her business and strengthen the community of black-owned businesses.