Black business owners in Chapel Hill and Durham impact and serve the community

Loretha Johnson opened Ms. Mastic’s Crystals & More in 2020 to help the community with natural healing products, following in the footsteps of her ancestors.

“My ancestors were healers through herbs and working with the land and things like that,” she said. “I was drawn more to it as I got older.”

Mrs. Mastic’s Crystals & More is a business that seeks to improve the well-being of others. They offer crystals, aromatherapy, artisan soaps and body products from their store at 109 N. Graham St. Suite 203.

Johnson said she aims to teach younger people in the community about holistic and natural healing options that are available in the forms of physical well-being alongside the spiritual and metaphysical aspects of well-being.

She said she hopes this spread of information can be used to help get more healing products in Black homes.

“I want business, but more importantly, I want people to get involved with their products,” Johnson said.

One of her main influences when creating her business was Delores Bailey, the executive director of community development for non-profit EmPOWERment Inc.

Johnson described Bailey, who works to be an advocate for those in Chapel Hill, as a knowledgeable source who can help provide guidance to starting and growing businesses.

“She is the Energizer Bunny with regards to getting information out there to Black business owners and encouraging people to take that route,” Johnson said.

Black-owned businesses like Ms. Mastic’s Crystals & More serve their unique communities across North Carolina.

August is nationally celebrated as Black Business Month. The Chapel Hill-Carrboro area has many Black-owned businesses to shop at.

Trevor Holman, the owner of Trevor Holman Photography has also done important work to help those in the community. His business has locations in Chapel Hill, Raleigh and Durham.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Holman said he offered complimentary headshots to those who were unemployed. By doing this, Holman said he hoped to jumpstart their careers.

“I’m just trying to help as many people as possible,” Holman said.

He was recognized for his work by The Chamber for a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro, which awarded him the Community Impact Award at the 2022 Business Excellence Awards.

As another avenue of finding assistance with starting Black-owned businesses, Holman mentioned the US Small Business Administration. He said the organization offers many funding options and contacts for minority populations.

Holman also said he had success working with The Chamber for a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro, which he said offers local resources for small and large business owners.

Margo Newkirk, the CEO of Blend of Soul, works with her partner Kiera Gardner in Durham to create locally sourced juicing options for the community. Gardner said they started the business after noticing the lack of healthy food and drink options available.

She said she takes inspiration from Madam CJ Walker, who was able to start a business from the bottom up and eventually become the first Black woman in America to become a millionaire.

Blend of Soul actively teams up with the Black Farmers Market to help ensure they are including fresh ingredients in their juices, Gardner added.

When starting their business, she said many resources needed to launch weren’t readily accessible. She said assets are especially scarce for people of color.

She said that while she’s noticed new grants for minority groups, it’s also hard to find information on how to start a business. She believes there must be more organizations dedicated to business education.

She also said their main goal is to stay active in the community, especially regarding impactful subjects like systemic racism.

“We’re more than just juicing, we’re Black women that juice,” Gardner said.

To help stay involved, Gardner said they are constantly using their social media to spread awareness about juicing and other issues, allowing their clientele to know what is important to them and their business.

@sierrapresident

@DTHCityState | [email protected]

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