After a number of sleepless nights, Adriann Jordan found herself standing in the Minneapolis rain at the site of George Floyd’s death. The scene was adorned with flowers and a mural of Floyd — his name memorialized among many others that protesters have chanted in the streets.
Jordan, 35, is the owner of The Soulful Buddha, a local soul food catering company born out of love and a lack of soul-food representation in Gainesville, she said. The business began when COVID-19 hit, and success wouldn’t have been possible without Gainesville’s diverse community, Jordan said.
Currently, Jordan’s business is a one-woman show operating out of her kitchen, but she’s hoping to take things further by acquiring a food truck. She’s also looking into teaching cooking classes to support wellness in the community through food with a plant-based twist, she said.
“Food brings people together just like music — especially in the black community,” Jordan said. “Mealtime is very, very important, but even more so now, healthwise. I think that needs to be put into our communities and spoken about more when it comes to how to eat healthy.”
In moments like these, maintaining wellness through food is important — but can also come from pouring support into local, especially black-owned businesses, Jordan said.
“Pour into them in any type of way that you can by supporting their business by protesting and standing with them when these injustices come about,” she said. “Having these uncomfortable discussions with your white children, your coworkers, with your family, your parents, your spouse — that is how you can support us.”
For Shānna Gilliard, owner of the Gainesville-based hand-crafted skincare company, Oh Hunni, her business came from a similar desire to support her family and the black community by creating products geared towards their needs.
“I was so passionate about making sure that it was right for my family, it kind of transferred over to the public,” Gilliard said.
Oh Hunni, founded in 2019, sells products like beard balms and sugar scrubs through open markets and local sustainable retailer, Life Unplastic, Gilliard said. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, business has shifted online, she said.
But as a mother, Gilliard has not had the business at the forefront of her mind recently. She is now focused on providing knowledge to people wanting to educate themselves on practicing proper solidarity and allyship to the black community, Gilliard said.
“James Baldwin, he has this beautiful quote that says, ‘Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it’s faced.’” Gilliard said. “My role right now is just putting the information out there for them so they can find it and educate themselves.”
Darshay Davis, owner of the Gainesville holistic skincare company, NuNubian, also saw a need to educate and create wellness products for all women, she said.
As one of eight girls, her mother and grandmother inspired her to make products people could replicate with ingredients they have at home. NuNubian also has products like “wellness” and “yoni” bars for women struggling with endometriosis and infertility, especially in the black community, she said.
“Of course, black women alone, we are affected very heavily right now,” Davis said. “There’s a lot of disparities in the healthcare field, so we have went back to ancient practices.”
As a UF alumna, Davis strives to support the community through campus groups, sororities and the Pace Center for Girls Alachua, she said.
“We do a lot of talking about just self-love, because our biggest thing is to affirm while you lather,” Davis said. “We’re really big on using affirmations and speaking kindly to yourself — empowering women to know that they’re divine.”
NuNubian operates through its website and social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, and a lot of its ingredients are locally sourced from black farmers, Davis said.
As a black business owner in the current state of the world, Davis feels lucky to be busier than ever, she said. As NuNubian has donated back to different funds and has given away stress relief oils, there’s been a reciprocation from all types of communities, Davis said.
Gainesville, a cultural melting pot of its own creation has been no exception, Davis said. Seeing people from all over town brought together through solidarity was enlightening, she said.
One message Davis wants to spread as a member of the black community to those grieving and traumatized — is that it’s okay to take a moment to process your emotions.
“Fight for change, but don’t let fear consume you,” Davis said. “Be present, but take care of yourself.”
Contact Lonnie Numa at firstname.lastname@example.org and on follow them on Twitter @lonaald.
This story is a part of an Avenue series called “The Voices of Gainesville” meant to spotlight black-owned businesses, black artists and black musicians in Gainesville.