It was hard to describe the energy in the room at the “Black in Business Photoshoot” on Sunday, Oct. 30, at Central Library, but everybody at the event could agree that they felt it and liked it a lot. It was a positive and exciting feng shui that many attendees had not experienced before here in Madison.

“Other than the beauty and just seeing all of these gorgeous people here, I’m really excited about absorbing some of this energy of entrepreneurship and the creativity I am seeing,” said Marcus Miles, owner of Marcus Miles Photography. “I love the exchange of ideas that’s going on here … the synergy. This is cool. This is new.”

Miles was busy chatting with Ja’Mel Ware, founder of Intellectual Ratchet, about computers and tech-related issues when he was pulled away for a quick interview. “I’m finding that at an event like this that you can learn something from anybody, no matter what their field is. I’m just glad to be a part of this,” Miles told Madison365.

(L-r) Dion Johnson, Sabrina Madison, and Marcus Miles at the “Black in Business Photoshoot.”
(L-r) Dion Johnson, Sabrina Madison, and Marcus Miles at the “Black in Business Photoshoot.”

The “Black in Business Photoshoot” made for an interesting Sunday as local African-American entrepreneurs gathered to talk business, to network, to exchange information and, ultimately, to get their pictures taken by a professional photographer. The event was put on by a partnership that included Madison365, Action Photo & Design and Sabrina “Heymiss Progress” Madison.

“I gotta say that Heymiss Progress has really done it up with the Black Expo and now with this event. She is a marvel. She is a blessing. She’s phenomenal,” Barbara Boustead, founder and CEO at Mary’s Daughter LLC, told Madison365. “She knows what’s going on in our community and she knows what to do and she is organized to a tee.”

Barbara Boustead
Barbara Boustead

Boustead is the founder and CEO of Mary’s Daughter LLC which is dedicated to assisting older adults and veterans with managing their day-to-day financial tasks including bill paying, balancing the checkbook, banking, sorting and organizing mail and implementing a filing system for important documents. Mary’s Daughter was founded as a tribute Boustead’s mother, Mary Hyatte, who has always been a lifelong source of support and encouragement for her. She passed away on Feb. 26, 2014, at the age of 93.

“My business is doing well. I’m going to be looking for a few more clients, but I’m very happy with what I have,” Boustead says.

Boustead said that she appreciated the diversity of the entrepreneurs at the photoshoot and the vibe that the event created.

“There’s some great diversity – in ages, in businesses, in entrepreneurs. These are people who are really doing things here in Madison and I’m happy to be a part of it,” she said. “It’s the amazing vibe that we got at Black Women’s Wellness Day, and I love it. A photoshoot like this, however, I have never been a part of. This is the first time, and I’m really excited.”

Madison-area black entrepreneurs get ready for the group picture.
Madison-area black entrepreneurs get ready for the group picture.

Dion Johnson of Action Photography was the man taking the photos of all of the beautiful people at the event.

“The wonderful part of all this is capturing a piece of history and relaying a strong, bold image to the world,” Johnson told Madison365. “I’m excited to be the photographer and to be a part of this. I’m really humbled, actually.”

Johnson has been taking photos since 2004 and started doing it as a business around 2013. “Even with the old [spoken-word] poetry events, I was always taking photos,” Johnson says, remembering the many spoken-word poetry slams he used to host with brother, Derek, in the 2000s. “My interest for photography just grew from there and I started to learn things that were more advanced … I want the depth to feel good. I want the backdrops to be right. I want the colors to pop.”

Sabrina Madison with Madison365 CEO Henry Sanders
Sabrina Madison with Madison365 CEO Henry Sanders

The “Black in Business Photoshoot” was a chance for Johnson to show off his talents but also a chance for the community to learn more about his business, Action Photo & Design. Johnson took individuals photos of the black entrepreneurs and then a beautiful group shot of everybody.

“It’s a chance for me to do what I do but it’s also a chance for me to meet so many cool people, businesses, and other entrepreneurs,” he said. “It’s just a great networking event.”

Black entrepreneurs in Madison are often a tight-knit group and there were plenty of familiar faces at this event. But there were lots of new faces, too. “I do know a lot of people here but I’m introducing myself to the people that I don’t know,” Miles said. “It’s refreshing to see those faces that I don’t recognize – whether they are coming in locally or regionally — and that we’re seeing Madison now becoming a magnet for economic diversity.

Vanessa McDowell gets her photo taken by photographer Dion Johnson.
Vanessa McDowell gets her photo taken by photographer Dion Johnson.

“It seems like the time is right now,” Miles continued. “There’s always been entrepreneurs and people with great ideas, but now it’s a combination of youthful, very energetic, creative people and some economic resources opening up. It’s all coming together. So this event is just highlighting all of that and it feels good.”

The photos will be used for the upcoming Black Friday Black Business Expo event on Nov. 25, also hosted by Sabrina Madison, which will take place in the Villager on Park on Madison’s south side.

“I attended the last Black Expo back in July and I had a lot of interest because of it,” Boustead says. “I was able to do some networking and some connecting and just being with people. I was able to meet so many people and give them information about finances and financial literacy. It was just wonderful to have that kind of opportunity here in Madison.”

Written by David Dahmer

David Dahmer

A. David Dahmer is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Madison365.