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Photograph: Ricky Darko
Photograph: Ricky Darko

Three Black-owned businesses you need to get to know

A hip subscription greengrocer, a cool cactus specialist and a restaurant launching in the middle of a pandemic

Written by
Jessica Morgan

This week's magazine was a tribute to all the brilliant Black-owned businesses in London. With Black Pound Day coming up this weekend (Saturday November 7), here are three to spend your cash at. 

‘Running a shop in the pandemic has been trying’

Photograph: Ricky Darko
Photograph: Ricky Darko

Gynelle Leon launched Prick London, a cactus shop in Dalston, as the houseplant trend kicked off in 2016

I chose to follow my passion, which just so happened to be in a very white, male industry. My presence alone shows that you can succeed in any industry you want and, being a visible Black female owner on the high street, inspire other Black people.

I love plants, especially succulents. They are great for my wellbeing and they fill me with wonder. I am constantly learning and love passing that on.

We are the first and only cacti and succulent boutique in London. All of our plants are low maintenance and long-living, which suits [our customers’] modern lifestyles and contemporary interiors.

Running a business in a pandemic has been trying. I went from having all my systems in place – staffing and childcare – and then these all went out the window. At the same time, the business increased five-fold.

Supporting Black-owned businesses is a small way to try and level out the playing field. Due to the disruption of our communities, the slave trade and other colonial acts, we lack the generational wealth that other communities have. I’d love people to support our business by making a habit of leaving reviews. Or by following and liking posts on social media.

‘Seeing elation on people’s faces is priceless’

Photograph: Ricky Darko
Photograph: Ricky Darko

South Londoners Peigh Asante (right) and Baff Addae launched Trap Fruits London this year when they saw a gap in the market for Black fruit sellers

It all started with the custard apple. We were paying £5 for a Jamaican custard apple, going to the wholesalers to get it and picking some up for our friends and family. That was when we realised there was a gap in the market.

We couldn’t believe that Black people weren’t selling fruits that originated from their home countries. It didn’t sit right with us, so we wanted to change the narrative and make our community healthier in the process.

We must support Black businesses and support Black communities. Who better to give you a service than someone who looks like you, speaks like you and comes from a similar background as you?

What’s powerful is our ability to create jobs for family members and the rest of our community. Trap Fruits has given them a chance to earn a living. In January, the team was just us. Now we have five other employees.

Bringing joy to someone’s day makes us happy. Delivering fruit and seeing the elation on their face when we’re at their door is priceless.

‘I love to deliver good food to people’

Photograph: Ricky Darko
Photograph: Ricky Darko

Roger Shakes, head chef and owner of Roger’s Kitchen, set up the restaurant with his business partner in September 2020

I feel proud delivering food to people. It feels so special when they come back again.

I grew up cooking with my grandparents in Jamaica. They were incredible cooks.

I have been working in Camden restaurants for 19 years. Everybody knows me, so it was the best time to launch a new business because it was easy for people to find me.

We launched three weeks ago. It’s really brave of us to launch during a pandemic. But we have customers in and people collect their takeaways. It is hard and you feel the stress of the business. You sleep less because you’re waking up early to deal with cleaners and other staff. Before, I used to work my hours and go home. Now I manage all of it.

People can’t find this flavour anywhere in England so they travel far and wide for our Caribbean food. I work with different flavours, like peanut, mango and coconut sauce.

I have cooked for Samuel L Jackson, as well as Paul McCartney and Ashley Walters. It’s an honour.

People need to support Black businesses more. If we don’t stand on our own feet, we hold ourselves back. But we need to come together more, too.

Read our issue dedicated to Black-owned businesses

Find more ways to support Black-owned business in London

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