“Fundamentally, I think it’s very important that we’re intentional about supporting Black-owned businesses because, locally, we really need to grow our Black wealth and our Black ecosystem so that starts with people who are striving to have their own businesses and folks who are showing up and cooperatively vending together,” says Tara Wilhelmi, co-founder of the UJAMAA Business Network. “We have a really tight-knit network. So supporting UJAMAA is supporting our entrepreneurs as they grow in our city, county, and state.”
For two straight weekends, Madisonians will have a chance to shop at some of their favorite Black-owned small businesses as the Ujamaa Business Network hosts Holiday Markets on Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 11-12, at Urban League’s Southwest Madison Employment Center and the following weekend at the UW South Madison Partnership Space.
Ujaama Business Network is a cooperative of multicultural-owned startup businesses that offer “a diverse selection of products and services, focusing on entrepreneurship as a pathway out of poverty.” Wilhelmi co-founded the UJAMAA Business Network with Qiana Holmes-Abanukam, the owner of Village Girl Boutique. The network offers professional/business development, shared retail, and networking opportunities in addition to being listed in its Black Business in Wisconsin app.
“This weekend’s Holiday Markets will take place on the west side of Madison. Michelle Bozeman from the Urban League has invited some of our vendors to come to the west side space,” Wilhelmi says. “Michelle has been part of the Ujamaa Business Network for a very long time and has been providing us with fantastic cakes for years.”
Some of the Black-owned businesses that will be represented at the Holiday Markets will include Fabulous Jems by Dorothy Reed, Macmade Delights by Catina McAllister, Earthly Temptation by Sarah Branch, RR MOORE by Rausea Moore, Village Girl Boutique by Qiana Holmes, NO B.S.by Mercedes Lloyd, Queen Ps Throne by Stephanie Prewitt, Seemore’s De$igns by Crystal Seymore-Auston, Monarch Ambition LLC by Jennifer Franklin, Food Junkies by Angela Morgan, Brown’s Urban & Bougie by Tequila Brown, and Sweets By Sweet by Michelle Bozeman.
Other vendors will include Custom Items by Mo Whitehead, LessWork by Breyon Sommerville, CocoaBean Skin Care by Alix Shabazz, Perfect Imperfections by Jasmine Banks, Try BUB Luxury by Tequila Brown, ThA Finest Cook by Alanna Kelly, CEOs Of Tomorrow by Dr. Roxie Hentz, and Seein is Believin by Prenicia Clifton.
The following weekend, on Dec. 18-19, Holiday Markets will take place at the UW South Madison Partnership Space, 2238 S Park St.
“We have a very exciting partnership growing with the UW South Madison Partnership Space,” Wilhelmi says. “On the 18th, we will be welcoming in Prenicia Clifton who has been a partner for the last year around youth events. She is doing her annual Christmas Caroling – Caroling in Color. Youth from around town will be featured and we will have live caroling shows with various young people being highlighted.”
“Then we will be highlighting the businesses, of course, and having the opportunity for folks to come out connect with the businesses and do some holiday shopping with the businesses,” she adds. “Hopefully we will get lots of folks out.”
At the Holiday Markets next weekend at the UW South Madison Partnership, UJAMAA will be doing an activity called the “UJAMAA Market Passport.”
“We will be encouraging shoppers to stop at every single booth and get a little card stamped and turn that in to enter a raffle for some really cool items,” Wilhelmi says.
UJAMAA Business Network has been hosting a series of UJAMAA Markets year-round that have been helping to support and grow business in communities of color throughout Wisconsin, with a specific focus on Black-owned businesses.
“Our goal – myself and Qiana [Holmes-Abanukam] – is to have at least one opportunity for our members every month and we’ve surpassed this,” Wilhelmi says. “Because of these markets, we’ve been getting more and more offers with other folks who would like to partner with us going into 2022. So we are excited to be able to provide a variety of opportunities around town to vendors and folks looking to shop.”
So far, Wilhelmi says, it looks like there will be about seven vendors on the west side this weekend because of the size of the space. “Next weekend we already have 10 vendors and we have the capacity for 15 and I have no doubt we’ll get there,” she says.
Wilhelmi stresses that “when you support the Holiday Markets and these Black businesses you are supporting local families.”
“You are supporting folks who are here in our community and the money is being put back into their households and back into our community,” Wilhelmi continues. “Shopping with your Black-owned businesses not only supports Black ownership and entrepreneurship but also supports our community at the local level. These are actual families that we are impacting. They are entrepreneurs who range from businesses just getting started in the pandemic to people like Miss Jasmine Banks, who will be out with us on the 18th, who is well-established in the community … and everything in between.
“This is an opportunity to really shop with Black businesses but also a great chance to get items that represent the Black adults and youth in your families … folks you are gift shopping for,” she adds. “This is an opportunity to get something that is really near and dear to their heart and representative of their culture … while supporting Black businesses.”
Ujamaa Business Network will be hosting a Holiday Market on Saturday, Dec. 11, 3-7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 12, noon-4 p.m. at Urban League’s Southwest Madison Employment Center, 1233 McKenna Blvd.