A line of people wrapped around the corner of Shoshone Avenue and Chatsworth Street as a young boy and girl passed down the line with a tray that had small water bottles and samples like small New Orleans-style Praline and caramel popcorn that were sold in the shop Uplift Us Marketplace on March 21 — the store’s grand opening day.
Inside, the small shop was packed with people. Vendors explained their products to customers, while the DJ played songs by Megan Thee Stallion and Big Sean in the background.
Every corner of the store had different products from 60 different brands from clothes, beauty products, hair accessories, to jewelry, crystals, snacks and more. Artworks hung on the walls were also available for purchase.
Some of the brands in the shop were Mama Rose Treats, Cotton Creations, DM Ink Artwork, TrapQueen, Solid Culture, Rocstone, D. Kay by Tina Renee, Goozie Bears, and much more. “95% of the brands are from the local and 5% are from other states,” Kendra Settle said.
“Uplift Us” means “uplifting Black, the Black community and our fellow Black business owners and collectively learning and growing together,” according to Kendra Settle, one of the owners. Uplift Us Marketplace is the first retail store in Granada Hills to focus on the incorporation of local Black-owned businesses into their store.
The idea for the store was formed after Settle and Kristel Jones struggled to get products from their bonnet company, No Capz, into a retail store. Settle and Jones started No Capz after they noticed the lack of bonnet designs for their sons.
“My sister got really tired of seeing her son in a purple floral bonnet,” said Settle. Settle and Jones’ goal was to get No Capz into a store but it was difficult to meet stores’ requirements, such as pitching the product to the store and having a consistent sales history in other stores.
The hurdle Settle and Jones faced when they tried to get No Capz into a store is another reason why they wanted to create a retail store that made it accessible for others to sell their products.
The Black Lives Matter movement influenced Settle and Jones to create a community where Black businesses could come together and support each other — a place where Black business owners can unite and have their products on a store shelf.
Uplift Us Marketplace is a place where people can come in and know they are supporting the Black community and Black entrepreneurs. Uplift Us Marketplace is not just a retail store. It’s a community where Black businesses can feel empowered and united.