My Grandmother flew over from Jamaica to honour the Queens request for more key workers. Grandma was only too happy to oblige. British hospitality was for my Grandma to reside a tenement home. Coming from Jamaica a land where people owned and farmed their land, accepting such a home was not considered as appropriate. Especially with the toilet placed in the back garden outside of the home. Grandma rolled up her sleeves with the goal to buy a home and she meant business. Within 3 years Grandma bought the downstairs to a home she rented and ugraded to another house by the fifth year. To own a mortgage for a four story home in the area of Wandsworth by the seventh year. Our main family home that is now filled with history along with the pita patter of each Grandchild’s feet to their adult sized trainers and fashionable stilettos.
Notwithstanding that the journey of home ownership in Britain for Black people was an easier achievement in the 60s & 70s. People had homes, just different kinds of homes mostly dependant of different incomes. Today the ownership of the home has been declining as future generations sell their legacy of ownership away instead of managing that ownership as a business.
Today’s Black women business owners can be seen in Brixton battling to stay alive. Where people are no longer encouraged to have local businesses but are instead expected to survive in an elitist pursuit of vanity projects rather than vocational necessity businesses built to serve their community. Within an environment where the local authorities win from business rates either way, the competitive hostility is becoming increasingly unmanageable for most Black female business owners.
Brixton Village boasts long serving and authentic Brixtonian residents who have set up businesses from 10 years ago to present and their legacy is in jeopardy due to rent inflation and the change of culture for more homogenised brands to reside in their village.
Belle West who sells bespoke fur pieces as well as designers from Britain and all of Europe. In the beginning has had a tumultuous time behind the counter where the onus was on the customer who would pass the store because of the colour of her skin. Therefore there became a need to place a person of European decent to garner sales in the shop. Five years later and it is mostly the tourists who keep Belle West alive.
Tourists who are inquisitive enough to search beyond the boarded up archway of Atlantic road that are likely to still look the same in 2022. Because the council have not yet developed business rates relief to bridge the gap between commercial and local businesses.
Etta’s Seafood Kitchen is run by a very hard working, charismatic woman who has been serving the freshest platters since 2009 has made her restaurant a beacon of hope. As everyone knows her history of using her last eighty pounds to sell Jamaican fritters with ‘The Brixton Business Initiative’ where she made a profit on her first day of one hundred and twenty pounds and never looked back since. Her approach to business has also been about family where she has supported others with meals when they themselves have no means to feed their children. A special restaurant business where the need for compassion for local people flourished because of the autonomy to do so and that loyalty has been embraced with a consistent flow of customers and friends for a decade.
Excellence for their community is what people deserve. Although local authorities gain over twenty-four billion each year from business rates, it is locally owned businesses on the front line that introduce unseen talent to their communities.
United 80 is a mini department store that brings creative wonder and artistic excitement within its space. Celebrating those artists who paint camouflage, draw, hand-sew and design clothing in unique splendour. To taking time to develop a gallery wall for artists like Sarina Mantle and Joy Miessi to rise!
Unfortunately time is no longer on anyone’s side with Brexit looming over the horizon into an unknown future; local businesses are unable to plan ahead.
It is hard to imagine a Brixton Village without these women and their businesses being present. Black Women who have a knowledgeable wisdom as well as a shared experience that deepens the environment they have worked so hard to belong…