Woodlawn is home to passionate people with diverse talents and innovative ideas. Through a community partnership called Woodlawn Urban Main, REV and partners have been working on finding and supporting the neighborhood’s entrepreneurs in turning their talent, hobby or passion into a viable business.
Throughout 2019, nearly 100 residents gathered at Woodlawn Porch Parties to catch up, eat good food, and learn more about starting and sustaining a small business from existing Woodlawn business owners like Tony Bayles of Bayles Restaurant & Catering and Duquette Johnston of Club Duquette.
Urban Main community facilitator and Woodlawn resident Alycia Levels-Moore (who also happens to be an award-winning gospel singer) says the efforts of Urban Main are essential to keep the existing community in the conversation about what’s next for Woodlawn.
“A lot of times when change is happening, we can feel left out of the change,” said Levels-Moore. “But we can make sure that community members understand the resources in place to support them in becoming entrepreneurs or to support them in the current business they have.
“We’re defining and shaping the culture of Woodlawn. We are a community of people who are thinkers, doers, makers, creatives, entrepreneurs. At the end of the day, we’re letting people know that Woodlawn is open for business when it comes to entrepreneurship.”
With support from the National Main Street Program, REV and the Woodlawn Foundation led the community in creating a strategic plan to energize this area through the lens of equitable entrepreneurship. The three-pronged approach focuses on revitalization through design, promotion and business growth.
The Urban Main design team is freshening up storefronts of legacy businesses, including the addition of a mural on 1st Avenue North. New brightly colored Woodlawn banners have taken their place under streetlights throughout the business district.
Woodlawn-Made Holiday Market
When: Friday, December 12, 7-9 p.m.
Where: Bungalow Bungalow, 5529 1st Avenue South, Birmingham 35212
Simply Sonequa Poundcakes
Woodlawn Jewelry Co.
Holy’istic Health & Wellness
Sew to Sow
Music provided by: Mason Music
Signature dishes, cocktails provided by: Cottage Noir
In its sixth season, Woodlawn Street Market continues to promote the neighborhood as a vibrant and inclusive place. The popular market provides a platform for up to 80 vendors at each market, with a special focus on creating an approachable atmosphere especially for first-time vendors and Woodlawn makers.
And this year, Woodlawn Porch Parties have filled out that strategy to promote equitable entrepreneurship in the community in a new way.
From expert seamstresses to experienced sound engineers, residents of Woodlawn have come together at Porch Parties. On December 13, they’ll share their skills with their neighbors at the Woodlawn-Made Holiday Market at Bungalow Bungalow from 7-9 p.m.
One vendor at the market will be Jason Avery, a community volunteer with a resume worth reading. Along with being a public health professor, inventor, and author at UAB, he facilitates much of the design going on in Woodlawn. Now, he is ready to share some of his other talents–creating cocktails and tasty hors d’oeuvres. You’ll also be able to sample Simply Sonequa’s homemade cakes and pick up a custom sewn home goods from Darlena, the matriarch of Woodlawn, and more Woodlawn entrepreneurs.
“The thing that excites me is all the people—my community members, the people who live on the street and around me. As we galvanize, we’re able to see the gem that we have in Woodlawn,” said Levels-Moore. “What excites me is seeing people come together and getting to actualize their dreams and being able to do that in a community where I’ve lived for six years. A lot of people have been here for 25, 20,15 years, so technically I’m the new kid on the block. Their roots are much deeper, so it’s meaningful for them to see people’s interest in the community and to see where they can continue to add.”
So mark your calendar! Woodlawn-Made Holiday Market is the perfect opportunity to stock up on all the stocking stuffers you need while supporting local businesses.
We caught up with Element and Vibe owner Aisha Taylor to ask a few questions about selling t-shirts with a purpose and her experience thus far with the virtual Woodlawn Street Market.
REV’s Director of Business Recruitment and Growth Taylor Clark Jacobson is teaming up with Reginald Smith of Sabre Finance to talk to business owners—both large and small—about how they can keep things as new and fresh as these times require on Monday, July 13.
REV kicks things off Monday, July 13 at noon with the Innovating Your Business For Future Growth workshop hosted by Taylor Clark-Jacobson, Director of Business Recruitment and Growth.