Black-owned business | St. Louis Public Radio

Black-owned business

Taken 6-15-20 at Quick Shop One Market on Natural Bridge Rd. after looting.
Corinne Ruff | St. Louis Public Radio

Earlier this month, Yousef Shawish woke up at 4 a.m. to a call from the police. 

They told him his convenience store, Quick Shop One Market on Natural Bridge Road, had been broken into and damaged. When he got there the next day, Shawish saw bricks from the outside wall scattered everywhere, and he noticed the ATM and boxes of cigarettes were gone. 

“Whatever we made in the past three months we spent on fixing the store,” Shawish said.

Jeffrey and Pamela Blair pose for a portrait at EyeSee Me.
File photo| Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Five years ago, Pamela and Jeffrey Blair embarked on a mission to ensure all children of color would be able to see themselves in the books they read. 

Since then, the couple moved their EyeSeeMe African American Children's Bookstore in University City to a bigger location, held book fairs at local schools and had plans to open a cafe in their store. 

But like many small businesses, their plans came to a screeching halt as the coronavirus spread throughout the region. A countywide stay-at-home order led them to close their doors to the public, lay off workers and cancel book signings and author visits. School closures brought an additional hit, with dozens of canceled book orders, as well as field trips and book fairs.

Provided | Canesha Henry

Barbershops, beauty and nail salons are places where people can meet with friends and relax. They’re also a staple in the black community.

But the coronavirus pandemic has brought such small-scale beauty services to a screeching halt. Barbershops, nail and hair salons are included on a list of businesses that were forced to temporarily shut down because they’re considered nonessential. 

Freddie Lee James Jr., owner of Freddie Lee's Gourmet Sauces, prepares a batch of his mild sauce on Dec. 18, 2019 in St. Louis.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Freddie Lee James Jr. has long been a sauce man. 

His home-whisked Ghetto Sauce made him the king of cookouts. Family and coworkers would clamour for the zesty, sweet and spicy barbecue sauce. After years of their encouragement and five years before he was to retire from his construction job, he decided to take it to the next level.

Provided | EyeSeeMe

Justine Petersen, a leading microlender in the region, hopes a $200,000 investment from JPMorgan Chase will help minority-owned small businesses north of Delmar.

The investment will continue to assist the local nonprofit in its efforts to help those small-business owners with credit-building resources, as well as provide access to safe and affordable loans.

ForTheCultureSTL.com creater Ohun Ashe wants to help circulate funds in St. Louis' African American community by promoting black-owned businesses and hosting events like the pop-up shop on Wednesday.
Ohun Ashe

Before the death of Michael Brown Jr., entrepreneur Ohun Ashe said she did not see many black-owned businesses in her community.

In 2014, Ashe was in the streets of Ferguson and St. Louis protesting the killing of Brown. She recorded video footage of scenes between police and protestors and even the moment when she was arrested and thrown into a paddy wagon. Once demonstrations died down, Ashe was determined to understand her role in the protests.

It was not until 2016 when Ashe envisioned providing the St. Louis community with an online black business directory, ForTheCultureSTL.com.

La'Crassia Wilderness talks with participants at her November workshop at Mac's Local Buys. November 2019
Ashley Lisenby | St. Louis Public Radio

Would people be put off? St. Louis entrepreneur Sarita Moody wondered this when she and co-creator Anni Jones of Mesa Home developed their new idea. Could they pull off a local Black Friday event if they only showcased black creators?

“One day, [Anni Jones] said, 'I’d love to do a pop-up shop in my store with you and other artists,'” Moody said.

Moody, the maker behind Feeling Moody knitwear, quickly discovered that black-owned Black Friday could be done quite successfully.