The “black” in Black Friday refers to the impact that one of the year’s busiest shopping days has businesses’ bottom line.
But Enama, a local artist, also wants it to reflect the support for Black-owned businesses.
That’s why the 18-year-old created the Black Gallery, a vendors market scheduled for Friday that will focus on Black-owned businesses.
“It’s always about Walmart and Lowe’s and Old Navy,” said Enama. But she wanted to “make this holiday ... about Black entrepreneurship, about Black business, investing in Black people and Black communities.”
The Black Gallery — slogan: “Keeping Black Friday BLACK” — will feature more than 40 Black-owned businesses at the Freedom Home Academy, 9501 S. Dorchester Ave.
Everyone involved in the production — from designers to artists to the DJ to the featured businesses — are Black.
“We’re trying to give people a space to network, get exposure and to gain traction,” Enama said. “There’s a lot of really talented Black artists, Black businesses, just Black people, especially in Chicago, who don’t necessarily get the exposure that they should get.”
One of those businesses is Mind How You Go fashion, founded by designer Juliana Gueno.
“It’s such a beautiful thing that we didn’t need anyone but ourselves to make this happen,” said Gueno, 24. “I feel like it’s just very powerful that we were all able to connect with each other out there in the artist community in the city.”
Gueno created her brand three years ago, inspired by childhood memories. The brand name is a throwback from advice her father used to tell her and her brother, Troy, anytime they left the house.
Gueno’s table will feature some of her newer designs, and she said she’s looking forward to meeting other Black artists at the event.
“I hope to see how people respond to the newer work that they haven’t seen yet from me,” she said. “I hope to just have fun and celebrate the hard work that all of us are doing.”
The vendors market runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. followed by a fashion show of Black brands from 8 to 9 p.m.
Friday’s event is being held in partnership with the Black Mall, an organization that looks to “make Black brands household names,” said founder Cassiopeia Uhuru.
Uhuru created the Black Mall 10 years ago with her fiancé, Dre Meekins, and three friends with a goal of getting people to understand the importance of buying Black. But, Uhuru said, it was like “pulling teeth.”
“Thriving communities thrive because the community members actually support the businesses that are in their community and those then support the community itself,” she said.
“One of the biggest issues in Black communities throughout the nation and especially in Chicago is that unfortunately, the majority of the businesses within our communities are not owned by the community members themselves,” Uhuru said. “So the money actually goes out, which then creates poverty in our communities, poor school districts [and] bad commercial corridors.”
Friday’s vendor market will be the Black Mall’s seventh annual Buy Black Friday.
Since they’ve started, Uhuru and the Black Mall have tracked the number of attendees and money spent.
The first Buy Black Friday had close to 100 people turn out, but now averages 750 attendees with anywhere between $10,000 and $20,000 spent.
“People bring their children and it’s this great celebration and exchange that almost becomes like a reunion as well,” Uhuru said.
While Friday’s vendors market is free, tickets are required for the fashion show, priced from $15 to $30. They can be purchased online.
Cheyanne M. Daniels is a staff reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times via Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster the paper’s coverage of communities on the South and West sides.