This Saturday, join LISC DC at the Black Love Experience: a celebration of Black culture and the many facets of the African diaspora. This event is the brainchild of Anika Hobbs, the owner and lead curator behind Nubian Hueman, a social enterprise focused on sourcing goods from and supporting independent artists worldwide. LISC DC is proud to be a supporter of this event, as it celebrates small businesses and entrepreneurs, and takes place in one of our target neighborhoods – Anacostia.
We held a Q&A interview with Anika to learn more about her experience as a small business owner, and the Black Love Experience.
Why did you decide to start a business, and why locate it in Anacostia?
I started my own business because I wanted to meet a lot of cool, independent artists and creatives who have great work, but I could only catch them at festivals and other events. If I wanted to find a pencil skirt, I knew where to go, but to find those independent artists and creatives, I had to wait. I wanted to create a space to be able to highlight them all year long. And as for Anacostia, I wanted to be in a community of people who looked like me, people who would feel the proudest of seeing our great work, and who would actively support one another.
What have been some of the challenges and opportunities you’ve experienced while running a small business?
I would say one of the challenges is getting traffic, especially being in a brick and mortar store. One of the opportunities is that I’ve met some amazing people. I’ve met people who are just so passionate and creative about their work and I’ve met so many people that are supportive of us. I also got the Great Streets program, which helped us double the size of our space, which has helped a lot.
What do you like the most about being a small business owner and entrepreneur?
I like that the thing that excites me a lot is what I do every day. I’m passionate about creatives living through their art and their work, and we’ve been able to support over 400 artists and creatives. To be able to fund their passion is an amazing thing.
Why did you start the Black Love Experience, and what have you learned from the event over the past few years?
The event is typically in February, which is Black History Month and Valentine’s Day. I thought, “Let’s just celebrate black love.” and it has evolved into so much more. I thought, “How do we revel in not just black history, but in the love we’re creating now – the trailblazing that is occurring now?”
I would say that I’ve learned how much people need time to feel loved; we really need spaces that recharge us, and I feel like that’s what the Black Love Experience does. A lot of times, the night of, a lot of people feel as if it’s a sensory overload, but then they’ll come back later and talk about how it resonated. They’ll talk about how something that was said really stuck with them, or how they met someone and had a really great connection.
Note: this interview has been edited for length and clarity.