Black entrepreneurs team up for vendors market, look to ‘Keep Black Friday BLACK’

The term “black” on Black Friday refers to the effect that one of the busiest shopping days of the year has corporate profits.

But Enama, a local artist, also wants to reflect support for black-owned businesses.

That’s why the 18-year-old created the Black Gallery, a sellers’ market scheduled for Friday that will focus on black-owned businesses.

“It’s always about Walmart, Lowe’s, Old Navy,” Enama said. But she wanted to “make this holiday … about black entrepreneurship, black business, investing in blacks and black communities.”

The Black Gallery – Logo: “Keeping Black Friday BLACK” – will feature more than 40 black-owned businesses at Freedom Home Academy, 9501 S. Dorchester Ave.

Everyone involved in production – from designers to artists to DJs to featured companies – are black.

“We try to give people a space to connect, to be exposed and to gain influence,” Enama said. “There are a lot of really talented black artists, black companies, blacks only, especially in Chicago, who aren’t necessarily getting the visibility they should.”

Black's Friday will feature dozens of participants.

Black’s Friday exhibit will feature dozens of participants.
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One such company is Mind How You Go Fashion, founded by designer Juliana Gueno.

“It’s a beautiful thing that we didn’t need anyone but ourselves to make it happen,” said Gino, 24. “I feel so powerful that we’ve all been able to connect with each other in the city’s artist community.”

Gueno created her brand three years ago, inspired by childhood memories. The brand name is a throwback to the advice her father used to tell her and brother Troy any time they left the house.

Gueno Table will be showcasing some of her latest designs, and she said she looks forward to meeting other black artists at the event.

“I hope to see how people respond to the more recent work they haven’t seen from me yet,” she said. “I hope to just have fun and celebrate the hard work we’re all doing.”

The sellers market runs from 11 am to 7 pm followed by a fashion show for black brands from 8 to 9 pm

Giuliana Gino is one of 40 black sellers featured at Friday's event with her clothing brand, Mind How You Go.

Giuliana Gino is one of 40 black sellers featured at Friday’s event with her clothing brand, Mind How You Go.
Introduction / Troy Gino

Friday’s event is being held in partnership with Black Mall, an organization looking to “make black brand names recognizable,” said founder Cassiopeia Uhuru.

Uhuru set up Black Mall 10 years ago with her fiancé Dre Meekins and three friends with the goal of making people understand the importance of buying Black. But, Uhuru said, it was more like “tooth extraction.”

“Prosperous societies thrive because members of the community actually support the businesses in their community and thus support the community itself,” she said.

“One of the biggest issues in black communities across the country and especially in Chicago is that unfortunately, the majority of businesses within our communities are not owned by the community members themselves,” Uhuru said. “So the money is actually spent, which then leads to poverty in our communities, poor school districts [and] Bad trade lanes.

Friday sellers’ market will be the 7th annual Buy Black Friday at the Black Mall.

Friday Sellers Market is the seventh annual Black Friday buying event at the Black Mall.

Friday Sellers Market is the seventh annual Black Friday buying event at the Black Mall.
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Since their inception, Uhuru and Black Mall have tracked the number of attendees and money spent.

The first Buy Black Friday was attended by nearly 100 people, but now it has averaged 750 attendees with between $10,000 and $20,000 spent.

“People bring their children and this big celebration and exchange is almost like a reunion too,” Uhuru said.

While the sellers market on Fridays is free, tickets are required for the fashion show, priced from $15 to $30. It can be purchased online.

Shiyan M. Daniels is a reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times Via Report on America, a non-profit journalism program that aims to enhance the newspaper’s coverage of communities on the southern and western sides.

Enama, an 18-year-old artist, on Friday organized the Black Gallery, which includes 40 black companies and entrepreneurs.

Enama, an 18-year-old artist, on Friday organized the Black Gallery, which includes 40 black companies and entrepreneurs.
Mozadeh / Tousin Fouad

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