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Black business owners in Chapel Hill and Durham are impacting and serving their communities

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Loretha Johnson opened Ms. Mastic’s Crystals & More in 2020 to follow in her ancestral footsteps and help the community with natural healing products.

“My ancestors were healers who worked with herbs and land and such,” she said.

Ms. Mastic’s Crystals & More is a business that aims to improve the well-being of other people. Located at 109 N. Graham St. Suite 203, the store sells crystals, aromatherapy, handmade soaps and body products.

Johnson aims to teach young people in the community about the holistic and natural healing options available in the form of physical well-being alongside the spiritual and metaphysical aspects of well-being.

She hopes the spread of this information will help black homes obtain more healing products.

“I want business, but more importantly, I want people to engage with our product,” Johnson said.

One of her main influences when she started her business was Delores Bailey, executive director of community development at the non-profit EmPOWERment Inc.

Johnson described Bailey, who works as an advocate for the people of Chapel Hill, as a knowledgeable source who helps give guidance in starting and growing a business.

“She’s an energizer bunny when it comes to informing black business owners and encouraging people to follow their path.

Black-owned businesses like Ms. Mastic’s Crystals & More serve unique communities throughout North Carolina.

August is nationally celebrated as Black Business Month. The Chapel Hill-Carrboro area has plenty of black-owned stores to shop.

Trevor Holman Photography owner Trevor Holman has also done important work to help people in the community. His businesses are based in Chapel Hill, Raleigh and Durham.

Holman said he gave free headshots to unemployed people at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. By doing this, Holman said he hopes to jump-start their careers.

“I’m just trying to help as many people as possible,” Holman said.

He received the Community Impact Award at the 2022 Business Excellence Awards in recognition of his work by The Chamber for a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro.

Holman mentioned the U.S. Small Business Administration as another means of finding help to start a black-owned business. He said the organization offers many funding options and contacts for minorities. I said that there is.

Holman also said he has been successful working with the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Chapel Hill Carrboro, which he said provides local resources for small and large business owners.

Blend of Soul CEO Margo Newkirk is teaming up with partner Kiera Gardner in Durham to bring locally grown juices to the community. Gardner said she started her business after realizing there was a lack of healthy food and drink options available.

She said she takes inspiration from Madam CJ Walker, a black woman who started a business from scratch and eventually became America’s first billionaire.

Gardner added that Blend of Soul is actively working with Black Farmers Market to help ensure they include fresh ingredients in their juices.

When she started her business, she said she didn’t have immediate access to the many resources she needed to get started. Assets for people of color are particularly scarce, she said.

She said while she noticed new grants for minority groups, she also found it difficult to find information on how to start a business. She believes there must be more organizations devoted to business education.

She also said their main goal is to remain active in the community, especially when it comes to influential subjects like systemic racism.

“We’re not just juicing, we’re juicing black women,” Gardner said.

To stay involved, Gardner said he always uses social media to spread awareness about juices and other issues so his customers know what’s important to them and their business.

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@DTHC City State | | city@dailytarheel.com

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