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Celebrating Black-owned St. Louis businesses, 28 days in a row — and beyond

David Kovaluk
St. Louis Public Radio
Brandin Vaughn Collection is one of 28 Black-owned businesses highlighted in For the Culture STL's video series "28 Days of Black-owned St. Louis."

To celebrate Black History Month, Ohun Ashe wanted to do something special. The St. Louis native loves this city and Black communities within it — and that love is the driving force behind For the Culture STL, an online directory of Black-owned businesses in the region, and her social justice activism.

So when Ashe noticed a lack of Black St. Louisan representation in a local publication listing reasons to “love St. Louis” late January of last year, she threw herself into creating a project to highlight Black-owned businesses.

From that effort came her video series “28 Days of Black-owned St. Louis.”

Ohun Ashe is the founder of For the Culture STL.
Miya Norfleet
St. Louis Public Radio
Ohun Ashe is the founder of For the Culture STL.

“[We had] a smidgen of time to do ‘28 Reasons to Love Black-owned St. Louis.' That was a series that [For the Culture STL] did last year,” Ashe told St. Louis on the Air. “This year with Black History Month…I knew I wanted to do something similar. We came up with going to different spaces and highlighting Black-owned businesses with Tik Tok and highlight reels.”

What formed was “28 Days of Black-owned St. Louis,” where Ashe and other contributors to For the Culture STL highlighted a local Black-owned business every day in February.

Celebrating Black-owned businesses is an everyday practice for Ashe, but this effort differs in the inclusion of minute-long videos and an intentional focus on various types of businesses. She said, “We know a lot of Black-owned businesses, but this time we specifically wanted to focus on things outside of restaurants.”

Curating the list across varying industries proved to be a challenge for For the Culture STL, but Ashe found the work rewarding. “Sometimes it was literally Feb. 5, and we needed something for Feb. 6, 7 and 8. It was a fun challenge — I think it was necessary to highlight that Black businesses sit everywhere.”

Ashe’s list includes businesses from Cherokee Street in the St. Louis to St. Charles. There are apparel stores, like Profield Reserve, as well as furniture stores, beauty supply stores, and a video game parlor complete with booths to produce online streaming channels.

Although the video series just wrapped, Ashe has heard positive responses from both the businesses she’s highlighted and their customers. “I’ve received a lot of feedback of gratitude and happiness. Across the spectrum it was just visibility, to let people know that these businesses exist.”

Ashe said that “28 Days of Black-owned St. Louis” is a list for everyone and that non-Black St. Louisans can — and should — engage with it. “When we talk about creating a more diverse culture, supporting different cultures, going into those spaces and getting to know the people in those spaces matter if we talk about a more healed St. Louis.”

She continued: “Supporting Black business, I tell people all the time, it's not a trend. … It's not something for Black History Month. It is a movement, a protest, that empowers people to be better people for each other.

To hear more about the businesses highlighted in ‘28 Days of Black-owned St. Louis,’ listen to St. Louis on the Air on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast, Stitcher, or by clicking the play button below.

New video series is a 28-day love-letter to Black-owned St. Louis businesses

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr. Send questions and comments about this story to talk@stlpr.org

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