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Black business owners celebrate Juneteenth with pop-up event in Roseland

Chicago Tribune logo Chicago Tribune 6/19/2022 Stephanie Casanova, Chicago Tribune
Racquel J. Bradley, center, talks with friends while setting up her vendor space with merchandise during a pop-up shop event at a rental space in the 600 block of East 103rd Street, June 18, 2022. © John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS Racquel J. Bradley, center, talks with friends while setting up her vendor space with merchandise during a pop-up shop event at a rental space in the 600 block of East 103rd Street, June 18, 2022.

Black business owners gathered in Roseland on Saturday to celebrate Juneteenth with a pop-up event that included food, music and a raffle.

Racquel J. Bradley, owner of Bradley Urban Solutions, planned the event at Ten3, an event space at 619 E 103rd St.

She wanted to plan an event to celebrate Juneteenth and said a business pop-up made sense as a way to promote generational wealth and entrepreneurship in the Black community.

“We’ve always spent our money outside of our community and we need to start spending more money inside (our communities),” she said. “The things that we are spending our money on we can make. We have talented people.”

Bradley’s business offers a wide range of services, from selling food to planning events and themed parties and travel planning.

After working for 17 years at the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago, Bradley decided all of her hard work that was going toward building and maintaining someone else’s business should go toward building her own. She left the hospital to focus on her own ventures, which until then had been side jobs.

Becoming a business owner has brought her freedom, Bradley said.

“If you’re gonna put that much work into somebody else and helping them succeed and go further and making sure everything is done for them, why can’t you do that for yourself?” Bradley said. “It’s wonderful.”

Saturday’s event was Bradley’s first time planning a business pop-up. And while she doesn’t think it’s something she’ll do again, she said it was good to see what other Black entrepreneurs, most from Chicago’s South Side, are doing and to be able to support one another.

Bradley also said it’s important for Black families to build generational wealth and for business owners to show and teach their kids that they can own their own business someday.

At the pop-up, children sat alongside their parents at booths and some played basketball or tossed a football around outside.


Video: Chicago residents celebrate Juneteenth, highlight Black-owned businesses (NBC News)

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Business owners sold mixed drinks, cigars, detox teas and other natural products, candles, clothes and waist beads.

Tameka Short, went to the event to support Bradley, but she walked out with several other products, including sangria and waist beads. It was nice to see everybody out celebrating Juneteenth, she said.

“I just came to support,” Short said, adding that she often tried to support Black-owned businesses.

Feyi Sangoleyle is Nigerian, and waist beads are part of her culture, she said. About four years ago, she learned how to make the beads.

After she saw how the beads helped her feel more confident while on a weight loss journey, she decided to start selling them to help other women feel that same confidence, she said. She started her business, TeMi Beads, more than three years ago.

She tried using a scale to measure her weight loss, but it fluctuated a lot, leaving her discouraged. The beads helped her fall in love with her body no matter what it looked like and helped her track changes by noting the tightness of the strand of beads around her waist.

“You really can’t take care of yourself if you don’t love yourself,” she said.

The beads take about 30 minutes to make after she decides what colors and how intricate the patterns will be.

At the event, several other entrepreneurs wore the waist beads as they shopped around buying products from one another and networking.

Sangoleye said a business pop-up is a great way to celebrate Juneteenth because it showcases Black culture.

“We’ve always been entrepreneurs. It’s just a part of us. We’ve got the hustle culture down. We’ve got the wanting to build our communities, build ourselves, build generational wealth just ingrained,” she said. “I think Juneteenth is just a way to celebrate the people that we already are.”

Katrina Thacker, owner of Nzuri Kulture, makes soy candles, oils and other natural wellness products, many tied to balancing chakras. She’s also a Reiki Master who does energy healing, she said.

Thacker started selling her products when the pandemic started, after her business that sold sweet treats for parties slowed down when people stopped hosting parties.

She said celebrating entrepreneurship is a great way to celebrate Juneteenth because at one point, Black people weren’t allowed to own anything.

“It is definitely liberating to be able to have your own brand,” she said. “And be able to, for myself, create my own product and be able to stand behind the product that I offer.”

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