During Black Business Month, Black-owned firms and Black businesspeople are honored for their accomplishments, notable anniversaries, and significant advancement.
Black-owned businesses have historically faced institutional racism, redlining, urban renewal, and construction. These hit Milwaukee's historic Bronzeville extremely hard and took most of it out.
Today, though, successful enterprises are bringing Bronzeville back. Owner of Spinn MKE Shakkiah Curtis just debuted her new business off King Drive.
"Accessibility to the community I grew up in, live in, and want to create was incredibly essential to me on where I selected to open business," said Curtis.
It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic severely affected the whole economy, but research indicates that Black women are primarily responsible for the increase in the number of Black-owned enterprises, which is currently more than 30% higher than pre-pandemic levels.
"I pride myself on just accepting the challenge, I think a lot of times we let excuses or the judgment of others and my thing is if I come to the table I know what I'm delivering," said Curtis.
In addition to owning Spinn MKE, Shakkiah, an HBCU graduate and mother of two, also works a full-time job and teaches at a nearby university.
"It's the daily grind of how do I continue to not just develop but be a part of what I'm trying to build and be the example for my girls and accomplish all the things that are on the plate," said Curtis.
On W. Brown Street, Spinn MKE offers workshops that are centered on her passion for hip-hop and are open to anyone.
"Because it has little to no negative effects on anyone, I picked this form of exercise. So it was kind of the thought process: what can I contribute so that everyone can get along, have fun, create community, and be fit? "Curtis remarked.
In Milwaukee, there is another Black-owned company that specializes in health and wellbeing. Rob and Jolie Brox share ownership of FIT4YOUMKE.
"Our objective is to educate the people of Milwaukee, to emphasize the advantages of a healthier lifestyle, and to engage everyone," stated Rob.
Rob has been a fitness trainer for nearly 11 years, but this is their first brick and mortar. They are well recognized for their specialty goods, particularly their lavender lemonade.
“So when you enter our marketplace, our top products are our lavender lemonade, alkaline water, and the city's first alkaline ice maker,” beamed Jolie.
The Milwaukee Bucks have recognized Fit4YouMKE as a small business, and they have survived the greatest pandemic in recorded history.
"We were able to continue producing our products since the city recognized our company as an essential business because of the things we offer. Grants offered to small business owners were another significant opportunity that we made sure to take advantage of," said Jolie.
They want to expand their company while also helping other companies.
Supporting Black businesses can help assure equal outcomes and is a step toward closing the racial wealth gap, as demonstrated by Fit4YouMKE and Spinn MKE, two excellent examples.