Black businesses uplifted in Lawrence through vendor market

Share this post or save for later

Joy resonated Friday evening as local Black business owners filled the Lied Center with their creations, and community members funneled in support.

Hosted by Black:30, an entrepreneurial support organization founded by Taylor Overton and Devanté Green, the Black Business Market brought together around 35 Black-owned businesses from the Lawrence and Kansas City areas. 

Extreme heat moved the event, which was previously set to be a street vendor market, indoors. Vendors set up tables on two floors of the Lied Center while Bunz N Racks BBQ, Swifts Cajun Cuisine and the Street Kitchen fired up their grills outside. Community members turned out to shop local.

August is National Black Business Month, and this week is “Black Business Awareness Week” in Lawrence, to celebrate the contributions of Black entrepreneurs as they face systemic barriers. From food and wellness products to jewelry and candles, local Black business owners on Friday evening shared their work, unapologetically.

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Community members come out to support local Black businesses on Aug. 25, 2023. The Black Business Market, hosted by entrepreneurial support organization Black:30, was in conjunction with National Black Business Month as well as “Black Business Awareness Week” in Lawrence.

‘Pastries for your spirits’

When pairing food with drinks, it’s all about marrying the right flavors, according to Chloe McNair. The baker with big dreams is working toward one day turning their small business into a lounge that serves pastries paired with alcoholic beverages, or spirits.

“The logo or the tagline is actually ‘Pastries for your Spirits,’” said McNair, owner of The Pastry Lounge. “I do kind of want it to be like a casual, loungey place where people can come and relax. I want you to be able to be yourself and enjoy yourself.”

Macaroons were the first pastries McNair made, and they’ve remained their favorite pastry to bake. Pavlova, cakes, tarts, éclairs and more are also in their repertoire of sweets.

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Chloe McNair

McNair said they continue to be inspired by their older sibling, who was also present on Friday with her business, Mosscrafts. The two have supported each other through the highs and lows, and McNair said they were grateful for the opportunity to showcase their products.

“I think it’s really great to have an event like this where entrepreneurs, or people like me who don’t have a business store, can come out and bring their stuff and show it to the community,” McNair said. “Pursue your dreams, as cheesy as that sounds. Go for it, no matter how out there it seems.”

McNair runs The Pastry Lounge and accepts orders primarily via their Instagram page, @the.pastry.lounge.

‘We can nurture it’

Allyse “Jazmyne” Bradley’s aesthetic is forage and floral galore. 

Bradley began her business, Mosscrafts, in 2020. At that time, she was working part-time at a plant shop in Iowa, where she went to school. Using what she learned there, she made her artwork her own.

Bradley likes to keep it local, mostly sourcing flowers from farmer’s markets or wholesale markets. The moss she orders from a few wholesalers around the country — or she just goes to the side of her house where she has some growing.

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Allyse “Jazmyne” Bradley, center, owner of Mosscrafts, creates forage and floral moss art.

“We kind of noticed a patch of it when we were walking about, and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh,’” Bradley said. “We can nurture it and make sure it grows thicker, and we don’t mow that side of the house, so it really can have a good environment to thrive. And then when it’s thickened up, we’ll harvest it and dry it out for our pieces.”

Eventually, she would like to grow her business, based in Kansas City, Missouri, to be able to completely self-operate. 

“I think next year, we’re going to try to plant our own seeds so that we can be kind of like farm-to-table but with florals-to-artwork, I guess,” Bradley said.

Bradley said uplifting Black businesses remains crucial outside of National Black Business Month. She cited the Greenwood District, well known as Black Wall Street, and the lasting impact of its fate. The thriving Black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma was destroyed and massacred by white supremacist rioters in 1921.

“A lot of people I’ve talked to, like previous bosses that I’ve had, when I talked about the importance of Black entrepreneurship, they don’t know about Black Wall Street being burned down,” Bradley said. “They don’t know about businesses being targeted and literally destroying all the hard work that had been built up for years, torn down generations ago, and how that has an effect on the lack of generational wealth we’ve had at this point. So people coming out and supporting, it really helps us uplift our communities.”

Learn more about Moss Craft on its Instagram page, @mosscraftsbyallyse.

Advertisement

The Perfect Niche

Corniche King has taken his love for high-quality clothing to the next level, creating a luxury athletic wear brand based here in Lawrence.

The Perfect Niche features luxury athletic T-shirts, sweatshirts, shorts and more. Hoodies have satin-lined hoods to keep hair protected. King recalls growing up and wearing low-quality windbreakers that “sounded like trash bags were wrestling,” he laughed. That’s been the inspiration driving his unreleased windbreaker. 

“I want to make high-end luxury products for people, but also worth buying — the quality is going to be up to standard, so you don’t have to worry about the ripping and tearing and things like that. You’ll get more use out of it instead of a couple of uses here and there.”

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Corniche King, owner of the Perfect Niche, creates and sells luxury athletic wear. Some items on the clothing rack, including the purple windbreaker, haven’t dropped yet.

Researching and selecting materials are crucial to King. One of his matching hoodie and shorts sets is made of 140-grain fleece wool, which allows for warmth with breathability, he said. His T-shirts, however, are more environmentally friendly by utilizing pima cotton, which allows for longer weartime.

Turning one of his passions into a business has been an empowering journey. King said he’s drawn inspiration from other local entrepreneurs, like Black:30 President Taylor Overton and her parents. Black communities can flourish when Black businesses flourish, he explained.

“She really inspired me to take full ownership of what it is that I’m doing, giving me the confidence to really jump out and be in these spaces,” King said. “Their stories that they shared with me as well, it kind of gave me the backbone to say ‘Hey, I can do something for myself,’ as well as planning for the future, and I want to make sure that I could build a bridge for the next person.”

Learn more about the Perfect Niche on its website, oneperfectniche.com, and its Instagram page, @oneperfectniche.

If community coverage like this matters to you, please support The Lawrence Times.
Click here to subscribe.

‘All that trauma we don’t discuss — we feel it’

When Chantel White began attending yoga classes years ago, she quickly realized there weren’t many people in those spaces who looked like her. She wanted to be an access point for Black people in the community, because holistic approaches had benefited her so much.

A licensed massage therapist, White owns Cute & Cut, a yoga studio located in downtown Lawrence. She also teaches yoga classes every Monday night at Yellow Brick Yoga in Lawrence. Ultimately, she wants to be able to cover the entirety of wellness.

“My goal is to go back to school and get my master’s and become a therapist and possibly a yoga therapist, too, so we can address not only the top part of the body, but all that trauma we don’t discuss — we feel it,” White said.

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Chantel White, at right, is the owner of Cute & Cut and Balance. Through her work, she promotes holistic approaches to health and wellness.

In addition to Cute & Cut, White owns a luxury CBD product business, called Balance. All products use ingredients grown in Kansas, White said, and they’re focused on the seven chakras that represent energy points in the body.

“I’m trying to support people to be balanced and to be yourself without any pain or stress, as much as possible,” White said. “I just want to make people feel good and supported.”

Running a business is no easy feat, but White offered words of encouragement to hold on.

“You gotta believe in yourself,” White said. “You gotta tap into yourself and keep going. Even if you feel defeated, you want to keep believing in yourself. We all have a talent within that we need to share with others.”

Cute & Cut is located at 920 Massachusetts St., Suite 3. Visit its website, cuteandcut.org, for more information or to book a session. Connect with Balance via its Instagram page, @theebalanceco.

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Chantel White, at right, is the owner of Cute & Cut and Balance. Through her work, she promotes holistic approaches to health and wellness.
Advertisement
Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Shelby Winfrey, who’s from Lawrence and is now a Kansas City-based musician, sings during the Black Business Market. Winfrey and the Curlzofoz Band performed live throughout the event.
Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Sherell’s Custom Treats
Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Robbie Derritt, owner of BD Artworks, and Alexis Derritt
Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Dscover Ur Dzine
Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Wine glasses by Dscover Ur Dzine
Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Kianti Vann, owner of KiantEvents
Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Joshua Falleaf, director of economic development for the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce; Taylor Overton, president of Black:30; and Kassidee Quaranta, graphic designer and illustrator
Advertisement
Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Erica Demby, owner of Pinky’s Precious Pets
Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Eangee Home Design
Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Charlene Jones, owner of Creative Self Designs, shows one of her wreaths.
Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Ginger Hodison, at center, with Diamoneer by Ginger
Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Doulas of Douglas County
Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Swifts Cajun Cuisine
Advertisement
If our local journalism matters to you, please help us keep doing this work.
Don’t miss a beat … Click here to sign up for our email newsletters


Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

Molly Adams (she/her), photojournalist and news operations coordinator for The Lawrence Times, can be reached at molly (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Check out more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

Latest Lawrence news:

MORE …

Previous Article

Hearing sheds light on details of Lawrence double murder, pursuit case

Next Article

Watkins Museum planning book sale fundraiser