Newark Photo Exhibit Highlights Black Women Business Owners

NEWARK, New Jersey— The following press release is courtesy of a member of the Newark Patch community. Learn more about posting announcements or events to your local Patch site.

The Newark Public Library (NPL) will present an opening reception on Thursday, April 7 for “Self Made,” a photo exhibit of black women business owners in Newark, with a focus on entrepreneurs from the West and South neighborhoods of Newark. the city. The show celebrates their beauty, their creativity and their connection to the community.

The “Self Made” photojournalism project (, launched in August 2020, originally featured nine black women business owners in Newark who were documented just before the COVID-19 outbreak. New images by photographer RaeAnn Walters that feature women with home-based businesses have been added to the library exhibit.

The exhibition, which runs until September 17, can be seen in the library’s first-floor gallery and in the James Brown African American Room gallery on the second floor. The opening and reception will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Many “Self Made” women, who make the products they sell, were photographed and interviewed by photographer Tinnetta Bell and journalist Carrie Stetler between July 2019 and December 2020. They own businesses in the south and west neighborhoods often overlooked in Newark, where the economic recovery has been slower than in other parts of the city.

Although black women are rarely portrayed as the face of small business owners in America, for more than a decade they were the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the United States From 2014 to 2019, black women Black women-owned businesses grew at a 50% rate, according to American Express’ 2019 State of Women-Owned Businesses report. The pandemic has not slowed the trend. According to the Harvard Business Review, 17% of black women are starting or running their own business, compared to 10% of white women and 15% of white men.

“With Self Made, we wanted to highlight that there is a wide spectrum of black women in Newark and across the country who are entrepreneurs, builders and creators,” said Stetler, editor of Self Made. “They are shaped and supported by their communities and strengthen them through the work they do. But they also offer products and services that give them pleasure in making, that are an expression of their values ​​and their passions, and which are accessible to all.

Bell, whose photos capture her subjects on and off the job, describes the importance of highlighting the accomplishments and abilities of black women.

“Society and the media have perpetuated images that are often not in their best light. Black women are entrepreneurs and business owners,” Bell said.

“We are here to make this happen for ourselves. Little girls and young women need to see this, and these images are here to positively influence and inspire. There must be light and it must shine from a thousand fires,” said Bell, who shot four updated images. images for the exhibition this year.

The exhibition focuses on images from the 2020 publication “Self Made”, originally created with funding from Newark Arts and an Express Newark Third Space grant. Four entrepreneurs are highlighted: Shidae Jones of CB Dreamhouse Boutique; Rashena Burroughs of Blueberry Café Juice Bar & Vegan Grille; Charmaine Vann Seagraves of Charmaine has hands 4 hair; and Shikhana Muhammad of the Salaam Ice Cream Parlor.

Five additional business owners are featured in shorter profiles: Laura Bonas Palmer of Akwaaba Gallery; Shante Lewis, the hot dog lady; Malika Muhammad from fashion to fashion; Isabel Merced of Party Events; and Philomina Kissi of Dresswell Boutique.

The library exhibit also includes “Self Made at Home,” which features images of four Newark women who run home-based businesses, photographed in 2022 by RaeAnn Walters. They include artist Andrece Brady; jeweler Brianna Garrick, of Bekhari Styles; makeup artist Charisma Lyles, owner of Glowing Experience; and Brandis Jones of Brandis Berry Wine.

The “Self Made” print publication, available for purchase on MagCloud, includes stories about the history of black women entrepreneurs in America, resources for aspiring entrepreneurs, and expert advice from the financial educator and resident of Newark Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche and Dawn Fitch, founder and owner of Pooka Pure & Simple bath and body products. The publication is part of the NPL Special Collections.

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