Black Makers Market Highlights Black-Owned Businesses In Downtown Austin

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Erika Barnes, founder of the Black Makers Market, poses while at the event with her husband. ““It felt really critical that we have a space for Black families and businesses to meet the community,” Barnes said. “and then have folks learn about our creative gifts, our businesses, our brands, I feel like we need to bring that all in one space.”

Alessandra Ashford , Reporter

On Tuesday, March 26, a sunny spring Texas afternoon, The Black Makers Market was in full swing in downtown East Austin. Created by Ericka Barnes, the Black Makers Market, in partnership with The George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center in Austin, consolidates many local Black-owned businesses, vendors, and even food trucks into one shopping event. A vendor herself, Barnes owns a business called Dope Crochet, where she crochets earrings and other accessories such as bikinis and baby accessories.  Barnes and her husband co-created the Black Makers Market to empower Black-owned businesses.

“It felt really critical that we have a space for Black families and businesses to meet the community,” Barnes said. “and then have folks learn about our creative gifts, our businesses, our brands, I feel like we need to bring that all in one space.”

The Black Makers Market hosts businesses and vendors of all different types, from clothing and jewelry vendors to candles and health products, such as CBD. Some vendors, such as Jeany’s Caribbean Elixirs, who sell juices inspired by the culture and recipes of Grenada, are particularly popular. Jeany’s Caribbean Elixirs was founded by Nanijean Bernard as a way to make extra money for her son while going through a divorce. When she was laid off in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, she decided to run her business full-time. For Bernard, the Black Makers Market is a place to be around people like her. 

“Well, it’s nice to be around fellow Black entrepreneurs who are doing positive things to uplift our community,” Bernard said. “Most of the vendors here, they actually make their own products and they put their heart and soul into it. Some of us, we have jobs outside of this. Some of them, like me, this is my full-time income. So yeah, it’s nice to be around other fellow Black owners.”

For some of the vendors, the Black Makers Market is a place to share their culture. 

Mma Dima, started by the matriarch of an African family, is an African boutique that sells products from backpacks to headwraps in African prints and patterns. The booth is occasionally run by two sisters, Abasifreke and Akwaeno Udosen, though the business was started by their mother.

“We don’t vend much anymore, but it’s nice to come to spaces like this, like Black spaces, where it’s like, you can kinda see people that you know, get a vibe from them, and support their art,” Abasifreke said.

While The Black Makers Market is an event for everyone, Barnes wants to make sure that Black Austinites are represented in Austin’s culture.

“I want to perpetuate the legacy of Black Austin with this market. I think there are so many great things happening in the city right now,” said Barnes. “And it’s very important that space is maintained and preserved. And if we could just be one spoke on the wheel to keep that going for generations to come that will just be incredibly meaningful to me.”

The next Black Makers Market will be on May 21, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at The George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center downtown.

Akwaeno Udosen and Abasifreke Udosen at the Black Makers Market.