Black Women Mean Business

by Stacia Friedman
Posted 11/18/21

If you think you’re noticing an uptick in the number of Black female shop owners in Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy in recent years, you’re not imagining things.

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Black Women Mean Business

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If you think you’re noticing an uptick in the number of Black female shop owners in Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy in recent years, you’re not imagining things.

Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy are booming with Black female entrepreneurs, many of whom started their businesses in the last decade with little more than a dream and some determination. Most of these start-ups are self-funded and faced hardships during the pandemic. Yet they are not only still in business, they are thriving.

And they’re not alone. Store owners like Stephanie Jones, the owner of Jonesy’s Accessories in Chestnut Hill who has now expanded to three stores, reflect a larger trend across the country. According to a report published in the May 11, 2021 Harvard Business Review, Black female entrepreneurs are launching businesses at higher rates than white men or women.

“Never before have we seen such potential for Black women to elevate their voice and their careers, and to achieve social and economic equality,” the report stated. “One means for realizing this dream lies in the opportunities offered through entrepreneurship.” 

Jonesy’s Accessories

The Harvard Review  When she opened her first boutique in 2010 between Willow Grove and Springfield, Jones specialized in the kind of jewelry, handbags and shoes that make a fashion statement.

Case in point: AS98 Italian leather boots with studs and chains priced at $500 a pop.  (Ladies, you won’t find this brand at DSW.)

Five years later, Jones expanded her product line to include dresses, separates and outerwear, but kept the shop’s original “Accessories” name.  Her eclectic collection was so successful that she opened a second Chestnut Hill location across from Bredenbeck’s. 7916 bGermantown Ave.

Jones credits her success to her word-of-mouth business model. “I have customers in California, Georgia and Florida who hear about me from a friend,” she said. It doesn’t hurt that Jones has 2,000 followers on Facebook Live who tune in for her weekly fashion shows. Note: Jones just launched her third location this month in the Bala Shopping Center. Go Jonesy!

MIXD Salon

Jasmine Smalls initially launched MIXD Salon in Northeast Philly, then relocated to the Top of the Hill in the Fall of 2020 when the pandemic was still in high gear. Smalls' focus on serving diverse clients, including men and women with all textures of hair, proved to be a winning combo. As a result, her salon was included in the prestigious Best of Philly 2021 list, awarded by Philadelphia magazine.

“Our mission is to serve a wider, more diverse cross-section of American society,” said Smalls. 8614 Germantown Ave. mixdsalon.com

Canvas Skin Spa

Brigett Ward first opened Canvas Skin Spa in 2011 in an historic building, built in 1796, near Campbell’s Place. The spa specializes in skincare for Black women, along with massage, waxing, manicures and pedicures, using organic skincare products and cosmetics by a Black-owned brand. Business flourished and, in 2019, Ward expanded into a new space, adjacent to her original location.

The additional space enabled Ward to offer more services, including a room with two massage tables for friends or couples who want a shared indulgence. The Spa’s clientele are women of all ages, including teens who struggle with hormonal skin breakouts. They also accommodate bridal parties and offer make-up classes. 8327 Germantown Ave. canvasskin.com

Posh Hair Artistry

Tish Taylor opened Posh Hair Artistry between Willow Grove and E. Abington Avenue in January 2011. A Mt. Airy native, Taylor studied business at Temple University before learning hair styling at Empire Beauty School in Willow Grove. After working at salons in Glenside and Lebanon, PA, she had enough of a following to launch her own business.

The salon’s staff are well versed in all styles and textures of hair. Another bonus that keeps customers coming back is the tranquil and relaxed setting. For many women juggling work and family, visits to Posh are stress busters where they can be pampered and indulged. 8010 Germantown Ave. poshhairartistry.com

Blacqskirt

Sherri Hall named her shop after an item of clothing she created to fit her body type. “It was just an A-line, black skirt,” said Hall, who launched her clothing boutique seven years ago between Mt. Airy and Mt. Pleasant Avenue in Mt. Airy. The shop contains items Hall designed, along with other labels. “Our customers range from attorneys to stay-at-home moms,” said Hall. “We hand-curate our collection to offer a unique shopping experience from casual wear to special occasions.” 7161 Germantown Ave. blacqskirt.com

Dolly’s Boutique and Consignment

Owner Shani Newton named her boutique, located next to Malelani Cafe, after her grandmother. “We offer mid-range priced fashions from $59 to $199, in sizes small through 3X,” she said. Dolly’s specializes in personal styling, wardrobe refreshing whether for everyday or special occasion. 6778 Germantown Ave. dollys-boutique.com

Nina Streets Design

Previously located at Hortter and Greene, Nina Streets opened her current location in June 2021. “I have been designing special occasion dresses for over thirty years and recently expanded to include design and decorations for special events,” Street said. Streets started sewing in high school and was so proficient the teacher asked her to take over the class. She then went to Cheyney State University where she studied Clothing and Textiles. “The rest is history,” she said. 6817 Germantown Ave.  ninastreetsdesigns.com

JTI Designs

Julia Turner Lowe’s background as a fiscal manager for a nonprofit helped her launch her own online fashion label, JTI Designs in 2018. Growing up in Mississippi in the 1960s, Lowe sewed her own clothes out of necessity. After retiring, with two masters degrees under her belt, she turned her lifelong passion for sewing and design into a business with the belief that “every woman, no matter what her size is, should be able to purchase clothing with exceptional craftsmanship and made with beautiful luxurious fabrics.”

“It's been a joy to be in a creative environment. I’m dying my own linens, silks and cottons,” said Lowe. For more information about JTI Designs visit the company’s website at jtldesigns.net.

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