Pop-up market helps Grand Rapids Black businesses get exposure

The Center for Community Transformation hosted several Black-owned businesses Thursday, giving consumers a chance to shop small and local.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Accompanied by the sound of joyful music, the Center for Community Transformation on Madison Avenue SE was alive with activity Thursday night. Many came out and got a chance to meet with local Black business owners and learn about their products and services.

A group called Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses organized the event, called the Sankofa Mixer and Pop-Up Marketplace. The vendors offered products like food, coffee, fashion, cosmetics and more.

Amongst the business owners on hand was Maneeka Beasley, the owner and CEO of Cakes By The Jar, a relatively new business in Grand Rapids.

“There are desserts on the go. We offer four signature flavors right now. We call them the straw boo-boo berry shortcake, our chocolate high toffee-mel cake, our lemon crunch cake and then our vanilla milkshake cake,” Beasley said.

Cakes By The Jar also offers seasonal flavors and is getting ready to launch a caramel apple cake ahead of the fall.

Also at the mixer was Tahleekah Partee, the owner of Shea Buttercups by TahLee, which has been in business since 2017.

“I sell non-toxic bath and body products. So a lot of the products that I sell, don’t have things that you can’t read. It’s really good for your skin. Shea butter was my first staple product,” she said.

Partee sells products for both men and women. Along with shea butter, they include fragrances and essential oil-based products.

Both Partee and Beasley say events like the mixer go a long way to help small businesses thrive.

“That’s definitely what it is – I’m getting more out into the community just being a part of something great,” Beasley said.

“Just joining as community and togetherness, and just being able to brand out your product, letting people see you and knowing there’s all types of products and services out there.”

Many of the vendors sell their products at local markets. Partee says she will be at the Southeast Area Farmers Market every other Saturday through November.

“You used to have to go to the mall to get these products but now, we’re bringing it to the people. I think they appreciate that, especially at the farmers markets,” she said.

You can follow Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses on Facebook to keep an eye out for future events.

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