Ujima Welcomes Black Market Nubian to the Good Business Alliance!

Black Market was established in 2017 as a nascent pop-market with a vision to help close Boston’s $247,500 wealth gap and mission to reignite Roxbury’s creative economy. The Marketplace was widely accepted as one of Boston’s premiere spaces to gather, meet and shop, understanding the need for micro-business founders to develop the business acumen and literacy needed to move towards sustainability. In its five year span, it has hosted over 81 marketplaces, 64 events, 3 festivals, 3 teach-ins, 4 health and wellness classes with over 300 vendors and 30,000 estimated visitors.

Recently, Black Market Nubian was invited to join the Ujima Good Business Alliance. Selection for the alliance consists of an interview process that verifies that local organizations are operationalizing social justice through our minimum 36 Good Business Standards.

We’re excited to welcome the organization to the Alliance , and share pride in their outstanding business practices. Some highlights include:

  • Committed to setting and tracking yearly community impact goals through a Community Benefits Pledge
  • Majority of business is BIPOC owned and at least 33% of employees identify as women or gender non-conforming
  • Practices CORI criminal record-friendly hiring practices
  • Implemented a fair scheduling policy for hourly wage earners

Following their acceptance into the Ujima Good Business Alliance, Paige Curtis, Culture & Communications Manager, caught up with Kai Grant, co-founder of Black Market, to learn more about their commitment to economic justice, arts & culture, and civic engagement.

Paige Curtis: Can you talk about the need for an endeavor like Black Market in Roxbury?

Kai: We went into it with this question of how we could fill a need. We were very intentional. We happened to be creative entrepreneurs, because both of us have some type of artistic lens that we move from.

My husband, Chris, and his family come from builders. Then my side of the family comes from free people who came to Boston in 1856 years ago, via the Underground Railroad. So that’s where our spirit of activism comes from. So I really think Black Market is a launchpad. So some people take root in it, you know, some of the artists and some of the makers and founders have used it to move their business forward. It definitely was built with the intention of providing a higher quality of life. So the importance of Black Market has to do with including the micro business community in the equation, and not leaving artisans, makers, founders, artists, and activists behind but shining a light on them. We want to give them a platform that, you know, would assist in the development of a Black identity in Boston, Massachusetts, and New England.

“We feel accountable to our community, and want to be in partnership with organizations that do the work. So it comes back to relationships, it comes back to feeling as though Ujima and Black Market were in alignment. I grew up practicing the principles of Kwanzaa.”

What are your thoughts on joining the Ujima Good Business Alliance?

Kai: This alliance is very critical for us, because we’re not a traditional retailer. We reimagined what retail could look like within a district that is struggling in the city. We feel accountable to our community, and want to be in partnership with organizations that do the work. We knew Nia from the NAACP work that we were doing back in 2010, 2011, and 2012. So it comes back to relationships, it comes back to feeling as though Ujima and Black Market were in alignment. I grew up practicing the principles of Kwanzaa. I come from Afrocentric parents that were activists, so I understand the energy of Ujima’s collective work and responsibility. We get that, because we practice that. It was important for us to make sure that we support initiatives for the sake of our communities.

What are you most excited about Ujima and the good business alliance?

Kai: Definitely the investing component, because we know the struggle. That’s literally being the change that we want to see. We’re also very excited about the transformation of the public realm for the sake of shifting vibration. Putting money into the hands of artists that live here means something to us. We don’t see a lot of funding in this neck of the woods. And so to have Ujima building up community capacity so we can build together is critical.

Anything upcoming for Black Market that you’d like to share?

Kai: We’re working on a refreshed Black Lives Matter mural. Then this summer, the weekend of June 10th, we’re hosting our annual “Buy the Block” party in Nubian Square, featuring a private meet and greet with a special guest. Then in July, we’re hosting more Nubiana activations — so much magic happens here. We’ll have more events coming in the fall, and in the winter we’ll host our signature Holiday Marketplace. We’re always busy! ■

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

LEARN MORE ABOUT BLACK MARKET NUBIAN ONLINE.

DONATE TO THE NUBIAN SQUARE PUBLIC ART INITIATIVE

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