In 2020, Loretta Johnson followed in her grandmother’s footsteps and launched mastic crystals and other natural healing products to help the community.
“My ancestors were healers who worked with plants and the earth and things like that,” she said. “The older I get, the more I’m drawn to it.”
Mrs. Gum Crystals and more is a business that seeks to improve the well-being of others. at 109 N. Graham St. Suite 203 offers crystals, aromatherapy, artisan soaps and body products.
Johnson said she aims to educate young people in the community about holistic and natural healing options that take the form of physical wellness along with the spiritual and metaphysical aspects of wellness.
She hopes that this expansion of information will help find more healing products in black houses.
“I want a business, but more importantly I want people to be involved in their product,” Johnson said.
One of her main influences in creating her business was Delores Bailey, founder of the nonprofit EmPOWERment Inc. He is a community development executive.
Johnson described Beilein, who works as an advocate in Chapel Hill, as a knowledgeable resource for guidance on starting and growing businesses.
“She’s a powerhouse bunny when it comes to getting information out there for black business owners and encouraging people to go that route,” Johnson said.
Black-owned businesses like Mrs. Gum Crystals and others serve their unique communities in North Carolina.
August is observed nationally as Black Business Month. The Chapel Hill-Carrboro area has many black-owned businesses to shop.
Trevor Holman, owner of Trevor Holman Photography, has done important work to help those in the community. His business has locations in Chapel Hill, Raleigh and Durham.
At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Holman said he offered motivational selfies to the unemployed. By doing so, Holman said he hopes to jumpstart their career.
“I’m trying to help as many people as possible,” Holman said.
He was recognized for his work by The Chamber for a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro, which presented him with a Community Impact Award at the 2022 Business Excellence Awards.
Another way to help start black-owned businesses, Holman cited the U.S. Small Business Administration. The organization provides many financial options and connections to minority populations, he said.
Holman said he has had success working with The Chamber for a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro, which provides local resources for small and large business owners.
Blend of Soul CEO Margo Newkirk works with partner Kiera Gardner in Durham to create locally sourced juice options. Gardner said they started the business after realizing there was a lack of healthy food and drink options.
She says she inspired Madam CJ Walker, the first black woman to start a business from the ground up and eventually become a millionaire.
Soul Blend partners with the Black Farmer’s Market to help ensure fresh ingredients are included in their juices, Gardner added.
When they started their business, she said, many of the resources needed to get started were not readily available. She said assets are especially scarce for people of color.
While she’s noticing new grants for minority groups, she says it’s hard to find information on how to start a business. She believes there should be more organizations dedicated to business education.
He said their main goal is to remain active in the community, especially when it comes to influential issues such as systemic racism.
“We’re more than juicers, we’re black women,” Gardner said.
To help drive engagement, Gardner said, spreading awareness about juice and other issues on their social media will let customers know what’s important to them and their business.
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