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Melanin on Market pop up festival celebrates African American business, culture

 

Melanin on Market – a celebration of African American business and culture on the 200 and 300 blocks of Market street – kicked off Thursday, and runs through Saturday.

Cherne Bishop has been hand-making jewelry since she was 10 years old. The joke in her family is that she did Fashion Week before Sesame Street.

Fast forward several years, and she was studying fashion merchandising at the University of Delaware and working at Nordstrom as a stylist and eventually a manager.

Last October she opened her own business, along with a business partner who sells handmade ties and bowties.

She wanted to host Melanin on Market - a pop up market on the 200 and 300 blocks of Market St. - to bring attention to what African American entrepreneurs are already doing to bring about change in Wilmington.

 

“With all of the violence and all of the things that have been happening – police brutality – we decided to shed light on and just celebrate business and culture for people of color and just taking a break to appreciate what we’re already doing instead of: we need to do this, we need to do that. There are some things a lot of us are already doing and we need to support that," she said.

 

Benjamin Robinson is owner and creator of skincare line Afrokan. The line includes an all-purpose soap for hair and skin with unfiltered honey and lavender.

Afrokan.jpg
Credit Megan Pauly / Delaware Public Media
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Delaware Public Media
Benjamin Robinson sells his Afrokan products as part of Melanin on Market.

“What I have here are three products," Robinson said. "These three products are part of my first line called Moja. And Moja is Swahili for the number one.”

Robinson’s been developing the products for over a year. He took some entrepreneurship classes at the University of Delaware and used what he learned to start his own business.

Robinson’s table of products was outside Dude’s barbershop at 223 N Market as part of Melanin on Market: promoting local African American businesses on Market Street.

Teron Evans is a barber at Dude’s, and is an entrepreneur himself; he recently went back to school to get his barber’s license.

He says he thinks there’s a shortage of jobs everywhere and for everyone - not just African Americans in Wilmington. But he adds he feels  opportunities do exist.

“It just depends on you," Evans said. "If you have that drive you’ll get it. There’s just not a time limit on it. But it will happen one day for you. I feel as though there’s a lot of self-motivation needed to push forward because it’s not easy to find a job.”

Someday, Evans would like to start a business of his own.

 

Melanin on Market runs Thursday - Saturday from 5 – 10 p.m. in the 200-300 blocks of Market St.

Bishop says she’s already received feedback from community members who’d like to make this a monthly event.
Participating businesses in Melanin on Market include:

 

Cherne Altovise

Sore Thumb Design

Bobbi Rhian's

Babe Styling Studios

Miz Ink

 

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