March 27, 2023


Moving Forward

Spice Suite opens new Langdon Park store, aims to empower Black women entrepreneurs

The Spice Suite at Black and Forth opened Friday in D.C. as section of a browsing region aimed at supporting Black feminine entrepreneurs.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser at the ribbon chopping of The Spice Suite in Northeast D.C. on Jan. 13, 2023.
A purchaser at the Spice Suite on Jan. 13, 2023.
(WTOP/Scott Gelman)

WTOP/Scott Gelman

The exterior of Angel Gregorio’s new spice shop.
(WTOP/Scott Gelman)

WTOP/Scott Gelman

When Angel Gregorio shut on the assets at 2201 Channing St. in Northeast D.C., it was the house of a tow truck firm and minimal was occurring in the industrial community. It was “ugly and gross,” she claimed.

But following getting the business area in December 2021, the entrepreneur envisioned the place would transform into a searching area for herself and other Black women of all ages.

With the enable of the city’s Business House Acquisition Fund, Gregorio opened The Spice Suite at Black and Forth on Friday afternoon. Mayor Muriel Bowser and dozens of neighborhood supporters had been on hand for the ribbon-slicing and opening of the spice shop’s new house.

Within just a handful of months, shipping and delivery containers at present sitting down exterior will be remodeled into a nail salon, hair salon, a brow bar and a braiding bar. The searching space will also have place for totally free pop-up stores, way too.

Her store, she reported, has formerly hosted more than 2,500 “pop-ups free of charge of cost for Black individuals around seven and a half several years.”

With the help of supporters and Bowser’s place of work, she stated, “I was able to transform this point into one thing extremely-Black in color, aesthetic, and in concept, and in the people that I hope fill this space with me each individual working day.”

The task started following a discussion with Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie about “commercial house and purchasing and inequities and injustices that materialize when it arrives to commercial residence possession,” she mentioned.

McDuffie and Bowser then labored to craft a application for folks who beforehand experienced difficulty getting entry to funding, said John Falcicchio, the city’s deputy mayor for scheduling and economic enhancement.

Grants are issued for $750,000 or 25% of a building’s sale selling price, with the prerequisites remaining that organization proprietors should continue to keep their business in D.C. and proceed proudly owning the residence.

“What Angel has performed here is getting a site that she enhanced, it made use of to be a car or truck garage, and now it’s a thriving retail organization that we know the community is going to assist,” Falcicchio stated.

On The Spice Suite’s first working day of small business in Langdon Park, go-go tunes played outside as customers, Mayor Bowser included, loaded compact baskets of spices and other supplies.

Maia Shanklin said she’s recognized Gregorio given that higher university, and praised her endeavours to open up the new retail place.

“As a Black woman from D.C., as a native Washingtonian, this suggests everything, for one of us to individual house, possess land, and to have a business design that supports other Black ladies.”

Dorjan Quick described the store as “a woman’s desire that is tied to reality.”

“To see her changeover to this and then to give additional chances to other girls-owned firms is just extraordinary to see,” Shorter mentioned.

Gregorio hopes the shopping space, which she calls Black and Forth, will become a model across the city.

“I want to be equipped to check with for no cost and speak other persons by how to do this in your city, on your quadrants, so that this gets to be the conventional of how we treatment for every other, how we present up for group.”