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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Celebrate Black History Month with these Black-owned businesses

Vegan food to mushroom keychains

Supporting local vendors keeps a community strong — treating yourself and others can be part of this process.

Promotion for Black creators in our community should be cultivated all year long, not just during Black History Month. Adding shopping list items to your vintage market haul has never been so easy, and you can do it all while uplifting and amplifying Black voices.

The Avenue compiled a list of talented local Black-owned artisanries and businesses to support this February (and every month after that).

Fairy SH*T!

“Handcrafted fairy house incense holder” might not be the most popular search item on Amazon.com. But for local business owner Jah Davis, 22, it’s a sellout.

The UF etymology fifth year started their small business, Fairy SH*T!, in June by selling at GNV Market at Heartwood Soundstage and slowly transitioning to other vintage shops around town, such as the How Bazar and 4th Ave Food Park markets. Davis personally delivers many of their own products to local clients in addition to maintaining their job as a laboratory technician.

Among Davis’ pixie-esque creations lie mushroom keychains and Florida-native wildflower seed shakers. Davis also hand-rolls herbal joints, filled with damiana, lavender and mugwort to calm nerves and deter former smokers from old habits.

“I had a lot of friends that smoked, some that were wanting to quit smoking,” Davis said. “I thought this could be a good alternative.”

The main way their clients can support them, Davis said, is through sharing posts and recommending their page to friends. Although they enjoy the creative aspect of selling their creations, Davis said being a small business owner comes with hardships.

“Being Black, queer, nonbinary — there's all these other layers,” Davis said. “Having people actually care about what I'm saying and what I'm selling, it really means a lot.”

BriiCreative

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Briana Dastine works as a movie theater concessionist, but she first identifies as an artist.

The 24-year-old started her business in 2020 at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. She had never taken drawing seriously, but when her friends began hosting virtual arts and crafts nights, she realized the talent she held.

Now, she’s a regular known as “BriiCreative” at different vendor markets around town, selling her work in multiple mediums. She works mainly in acrylic paint, she said, but she’s also worked with watercolor, vinyl sticker design, digital prints and has recently taken up engravings.

Although she enjoys the accessibility of her Etsy shop, Dastine said she prefers in-person vending because her customers can see the quality of her work for themselves. She also appreciates the relationships she can create and nurture with her clients, Dastine said.

“Starting out, doing online is honestly really hard,” she said. “People don't really know your face, they don't really build a connection to you like that.”

Word of mouth is often one of the most reliable and common techniques she’s seen resulting in new faces at her shop, Dastine added.

To place an order, you can visit Dastine’s Etsy page or direct message her Instagram account for custom orders.

Vegan Gator

When customers ask Andrew Durham, the 33-year-old owner, chef and operator of Vegan Gator Food Truck and DD’s Vegan Diner, if he sells vegan gator meat, he has to laugh.

Although faux croc meat won’t make an appearance on his menu, Durham said, he prides himself on being a source of affordable, accessible vegan food.

With three years as a dedicated vegan and over 10 years of chef expertise, Durham noticed there wasn’t a casual place in Gainesville where he could grab a veggie burger for cheap, he said.

He loves putting his original twist on classics and surprising people with the believability of an authentic vegan Big Mac, Durham said.

“A lot of folks have never been introduced to good vegan food,” he said. “It's like a bad taste in their mouth.”

Durham combats the prejudice against vegan options by offering free meals to community members in times of need. He said it’s important to give back to the community in his own way, and it only feels right.

The owner has also sometimes supported Vegan Gator’s success with expenses out of his own pocket. Using products that may not always be locally sourced, Durham must often make long drives to Jacksonville and Orlando to maintain production, he said.

“The customers, they understand — they are totally aware of what's going on,” he said. “They're fully supportive.”

Durham and his team are working on securing a third truck, he said. He’s excited to see what the future holds for his restaurants. Durham wrote the idea down on a piece of paper years ago, and it’s been incredible to see it come to fruition this way, he said.

Durham appreciates the compassion his customers show to him, he said, and appreciates it even more when they don’t keep it a secret. All he asks, he said, is to let someone know about the great vegan food they just ate.

“Try to let someone know,” Durham said. “That's the best, I can't pay for that. There's no amount of money that I can pay for word of mouth.”

AcidMirrors

Adeyemi Young realized everyone, including himself, has thousands of dollars worth of useless things lying around their houses.

The entrepreneur started his vintage clothes-reselling business, AcidMirrors, in 2020 after a fellow reseller showed him the ropes. Now, he is a regular at local pop-ups, such as the Bazar À La Carte night markets and AUK vintage market.

“There's definitely probably a method to the madness,” Young said. “You buy things that you like, just all your old clothes, so you could start there.”

Young has used virtual resources for sourcing his clients, like Depop, eBay and OfferUp, but he ultimately prefers the in-person experience of letting customers see the caliber and fashion-forward style for themselves.

He can’t reveal all of his secrets to staying ahead of the trends, Young said. But he encourages entrepreneurial minds to get started sooner rather than later.

“The only thing that's going to hold you back is you,” Young said. “Whatever you really want to do there, it's your world.”

Contact Loren at lmiranda@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @LorenMiranda13.

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Loren Miranda

Loren Miranda is a second-year journalism major and a staff writer for the Avenue. She is also a copy editor for Rowdy Magazine. When she's not writing, she enjoys watching either critically acclaimed films or cheesy reality TV, no in-betweens.


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