Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristel Jones.
Hi Kristel, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
We are Kristel Jones and Kendra Settle, Sisters and Founders of Uplift Us Marketplace. Uplift Us Marketplace came about through a whirlwind of thoughts and feelings that were taking place in 2020. We started a Hair Bonnet Business during the pandemic and as we were putting efforts into getting our Bonnets in stores and realizing the many obstacles that came along with that, we were also paying close attention to and dealing with our own feelings about the racial injustice and unrest going on in the country. Because of this movement, we started to become more conscious about supporting black businesses and we were faced with the challenges of finding out who sold what products, where they were located, shipping cost, etc. At that moment, we realized we weren’t the only ones who had something great that should be in stores. We also quickly realized that there was no one place in the valley where we could go to easily support local black businesses. I have read and seen the quote by Mahatma Gandhi many times “Be the change you want to see in the world” Which always resonated with me. So we started to think about how we could create a space specifically for black entrepreneurs, Authors, Artists and Artisans to be proud to sell their items. In addition, we wanted to create a space for everyone who wants to support black businesses, small businesses & local businesses to be able to conveniently do so all in one place. With these thoughts Uplift Us Marketplace was born. The name came from exactly what we wanted to do, to help uplift each other.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I don’t think any road to success is completely smooth. Our Journey has been no different. However, our challenges with this venture have been few. We have been able to avoid some major challenges because of our previous business experience where we faced many challenges and of course made many mistakes. With this business, the main challenge that we have faced is becoming a jack of all trades. Because we funded this business 100% ourselves, we had to cut as many costs as we could so along with Family and Friends we had to do pretty much everything ourselves, Including construction, painting, website design, marketing, vetting vendors, you name it. It has been quite a challenge to fit all of that in a while having our homes and families to take care of but our passion has kept us going. Another focus is getting customers to come in, the response has been wonderful and we know we are still growing and business will surely pick up over time but having the steady flow of traffic is a huge focus for us and we hope that everyone takes the time to stop in and spread the word.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Uplift Us Marketplace?
Uplift Us Marketplace is a beautiful boutique style shop where you can find a little bit of everything including Daily essentials, candles, books, Men, Women, and children clothing, snacks, art, books, gifts, plants, food and more. What is unique about Uplift Us Marketplace is that every single item you touch or buy in the store is from one of our over 70 black-owned entrepreneurs. So for everyone who wants to support black businesses, local businesses and small businesses you can do that all here in one place. We are most proud of the idea that we are helping increase business for black entrepreneurs by giving them a platform to proudly sell their items while also circulating the black dollar within our community. Something everyone should know is that you do not need to be black to come shop and support, no matter who you are or your background it’s guaranteed that you will find something you love and a reason to come back. All of the products are of great quality and are truly designed with love. When customers check out, they feel proud when we say, “Today you supported 5, 7, or 20 black businesses with your purchase”.
Do you have any advice for those just starting out?
For anyone just starting out, I would say know going in that the road will not be perfect, embrace your mistakes and use them to grow. Also, seek advice and guidance from people who are where you one day hope to be.
- Email: Upliftusmarketplace@yahoo.com
- Website: Upliftusmarketplace.com
- Instagram: Uplift_Us_Marketplace
- Facebook: Upliftusmarketplace
Photos: Adrian Javon