2nd annual Park & Pop event highlights Black-owned businesses

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — To wrap up National Black Business Month, several Black-owned business participated in the 2nd annual Park & Pop event in Willowbrook Park on August 31.

The event in Bulls Head featured all Black-owned businesses, specifically focused on beauty and wellness.

Attendees visited the stands while enjoying music by DJ Maestro and snacks.

Mercedes Kelson, owner of Passionate Extensions and founder of Park & Pop, felt that hosting the event this year was particularly important to help business owners during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

While all of the vendors were Black-owned, the majority were also female-run businesses tailored toward women’s needs.

This was particularly important to Kelson, who stated that she wanted to “give back to women and make women feel beautiful by building their confidence.”

Businesses in attendance at the event include: Passionate Extensions, 3Js Creation, Stunning Essentials, Butta Bee Beautiful, The Charm Collection, No Shade by Nevaeh, I Am Beauti, Lash & Dash, Gorjus Nellz, and more.


Margaret Ham and Anastasha Smith introduced their brand “I Am Beauti” at Park & Pop. (Courtesy Amoy Barnes)

Entrepreneurs Margaret Ham and Anastasha Smith unveiled their new brand, I Am Beauti, for the first time at the event.

Ham and Smith started their business while in quarantine. Their products help support healthier, fuller, and long natural hair.

Ham explained that supporting Black-owned businesses is particularly important to her to help boost Black communities.

“Black Business Month is important because black people’s dollars don’t circulate in the black community like in other cultures and communities,” Ham said.

According to the Black Star Project, approximately 2% of Black American’s gross national income is re-circulated into Black communities.

Jada Smallwood, and 18-year-old entrepreneur, makes custom wigs, lip glosses, and lashes.

One of the youngest business owners at the event and a recent graduate of Curtis High School, she taught herself everything she knows by watching videos online.

“I’m Black, and I enjoy the positivity that supporting other Black businesses brings to the community,” Smallwood said. “It’s a good thing to start something for yourself. You have to be very positive; you can’t really bring negative energy to promoting your business while starting a business, and it’s a learning experience. So, it’s a journey for me.”

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