A summer guide for BIPOC-focused markets
by Fiona Dang
Inclusivity and community at the forefront, BIPOC-led markets in the greater Seattle area have thrived in recent years, and many will be showcasing local talent this summer. These markets have attempted to remedy the astounding lack of markets where BIPOC entrepreneurs take center stage and lower the often high barriers to entry such as signup and vendor fees, selection process bias and lack of mentorship. These markets support diverse communities of vendors with businesses ranging from food and beverages to arts and crafts to apparel, beauty and even performance. Here’s your guide to several BIPOC-run markets in the Seattle area and beyond.
Black night market
The Black Night Market showcases black talent and provides opportunities for small businesses to network and promote their brands. More than just a shopping destination, Black Night Market offers experiences where performers perform on stage, spectators enjoy fashion shows, and visitors participate in activities such as paint and sip or cake decorating workshops.
In addition to her ongoing coordination of the Hilltop Indoor Market, Mari Griffin has created a space for black entrepreneurs. Small business owners often have to juggle multiple roles — manufacturing, accounting, and sales — and sometimes maintaining a social media presence is just another burden. Griffin helps by providing extensive marketing and social media support to vendors and their products, refining the power of their stories to maintain relationships with audiences. Griffin also offers mentoring and works on a contract basis to help entrepreneurs with branding and marketing on their own platforms.
“I think it’s important that we have these spaces so that we can achieve economic success, especially within the black community,” Griffin said. “My intention with the Black Night Market is just to have a space to celebrate ourselves.”
The “Buy Black” message is usually prominent during protests or Black History Month, but Griffin encourages supporting black-owned businesses year-round. “If something happens to a black person and the police, that’s the right time [the “Buy Black” message] is really emphasized. I do it when it’s quiet. I feel like it’s more of a trend than a lifestyle,” she says. “I wanted to create a space where there’s nothing going on that says do this, but do this. Don’t do this because someone was shot or killed, do this because it should be a normal thing.”
This sustained effort invested in monthly markets has resulted in business owners attracting repeat customers and custom order requests, as well as a community of vendors that inspire each other.
The Black Night Market takes place on the last Friday of each month through December 2022 from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in Tacoma’s Edison Square (5415 South Tacoma Way). The next markets – on June 24th and July 29th – feature live performances, food trucks and local talent.
Maker’s art market
The inaugural Makers Art Market was held in July 2021 and provided an opportunity for artists who were struggling to show their work to the public. At the time, many in-person markets were suspended due to the pandemic. Budding jewelry e-commerce business owner Kaining Wang felt compelled to connect with and support local manufacturers who had encountered similar problems and open a market of her own. The market, now hosted by Wang and Elise Uyema, has since expanded and is held on Alki Beach almost every month.
“By organizing the Makers Art Market, we have been able to develop real friendships with local makers and constantly meet new small business owners. It was important to feel connected to others as a small business owner,” said Wang and Uyema.
“We share resources and lessons learned from experiences so that we grow together. It’s also very rewarding when we see positive feedback from the local community. With the West Seattle Bridge out of service for the past few years, we hope to bring fun and exciting vendors to the ‘island’ to add vibrancy to this beautiful community,” said Wang and Uyema.
Makers Art Market aims to organize diverse displays of vendors with original designs and handcrafted works. “Being a part of it opened my eyes to the lack of BIPOC-led markets in Washington, let alone across the country. In my experience, the markets I have participated in have not considered BIPOC manufacturers as one of their primary considerations when selecting vendors. I would end up in a market where 90% of the sellers are white and most of the visitors are also white,” explained Uyema. “With our market, we make a point of having at least 50% BIPOC representation and even offer bursary booths to emerging artists who need support.”
Knowing that booth fees can be a barrier for some manufacturers, the team sponsors at least one stipend service booth per market. Payment plan options for carrier fees as well as device share are available.
Celebrate the makers and admire their handcrafted work at the Makers Art Market, taking place over the following days this year at Alki Beach Park, 2665 Alki Ave. SW, Seattle takes place: August 13 (12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.); September 10 (1pm to 6pm); November 5 (12 p.m. to 5 p.m.); and December 3 (12 p.m. to 5 p.m.).
Come rain or shine community market
In the fall of 2021, Jenni Liu planned the first iteration of the Rain or Shine Community Market in just one week. After listening to numerous artists being discriminated against in several prominent markets, she decided to host them in her friend’s backyard. Explaining her decision to keep the Rain or Shine Community Market alive, Liu said, “People running markets absolutely have to be people of color. It’s not just about having BIPOC artists because if you don’t have a seat at the table you just don’t know.”
Since the first market, Liu and her team have hosted five other Rain or Shine Community Market events in the Tacoma and Seattle community spaces.
Values such as accessibility, hospitality, inclusivity, open-mindedness and respect have determined the direction of the market. The team aims to lower barriers to entry by offering season and grant provider fees and equipment shares. They matched new providers with experienced small business owners as mentors and presented the Business Basics Webinar for Washington Makers in partnership with African Community Housing & Development. On the market’s Instagram account, the Meet the Makers series sheds light on the many small business owners and their missions, sources of inspiration and creative practices.
The next Rain or Shine Market, featuring over forty vendors, will be held on Saturday, June 25, 2022 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Phinney Center, 6532 Phinney Avenue North.
Simply Junsta was founded in January 2022 and has garnered hundreds of followers across its social media accounts. Small business owners Silvia Godinez Anaya and Jocelyne Garcia Sanchez have been frustrated by the absence of BIPOC vendors in the markets. Garcia Sanchez noted the often exclusionary nature of markets run by non-Hispanic people as a catalyst for Simply Junsta.
“We created our own market so we can make the rules. We don’t want to leave anyone out. We were there, we felt it, and it sucks. It’s a bad feeling just wondering why I wasn’t admitted. Some people charge $40 or $50 to apply and you don’t get in, so you’re losing money,” Garcia Sanchez said.
At Simply Junsta there is no fee, selection is on a first come, first served basis and selected vendors only have to pay a flat fee to cover the cost of the venue. Many Simply Junsta vendors only speak Spanish, so Godinez Anaya and Garcia Sanchez, who are bilingual, can help with setup or device sharing. Simply Junsta serves as an inclusive marketplace to help aspiring entrepreneurs feel comfortable, confident and successful in presenting their businesses.
The core belief “The sun shines for everyone” has guided the vision of Simply Junsta. Godinez Anaya and Garcia Sanchez have promoted many companies’ brands through social media, offering thank-you gifts as gestures of appreciation. The team relies more on community than competition. While many prominent markets are typically held in Seattle, Simply Junsta’s markets are held in Everett.
Consider shopping from over 30 vendors at the next Simply Junsta market on Saturday, June 25, 2022 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at 6814 Washington Ave., Everett.
Fiona Dan (she/she) is a first-generation Chinese-American art historian. Fiona has demonstrated her commitment to bridging the gap between academia and a broad art audience through her experiences working in museums.
📸 Featured image: Vendors at the Rain or Shine Community Market. Market founder Jenni Liu said, “People running markets must be people of color. It’s not just about having BIPOC artists because if you don’t have a seat at the table you just don’t know.” (Photo: Della Tosin)
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