By Hannah Vaffis
Students browse the unique selection offered by a candle vendor at the Melanin Monday Market. Flagler College’s Black Student Union hosted the event on the West Lawn this past spring. Local Black-owned small businesses were invited to set up shop and display their products on Flagler’s campus.
Katera Frazier, owner of Crochet with Passion, models one of her hand-crocheted hats that are available for purchase at her stand. Frazier started her crochet business six years ago and frequently brought her business to markets in St. Augustine and Jacksonville. She offered a variety of colorful crochet accessories for students to choose from, including clothing, purses and earrings.
“The one thing that really got me into crocheting was another small business owner. She was a crocheter too. It was at an after-school program, and she decided to start a crochet club, so I was like, ‘That’s cool, you know, I like yarn,’ so I started it,” Frazier said. “Her name is Ms. Keisha, the lady who taught me, so she’s the one who really got me started with crocheting.”
Ciarra Carter-Tanks, owner of Krayige Faye, provides homemade home and body care products at her section of the market. Carter-Tanks originally created her care line as a pandemic project in 2020 after she discovered a simpler way to make the items she used daily. This blossomed into a business that included candles, room sprays, wax melts, body butters and sugar scrubs that were crafted with the customer in mind.
“I was just home and reading the ingredients on the back of everything and I’m like, ‘I can’t read it,’ so I wanted a more natural care line,” Carter-Tanks said. “Everything is natural with ingredients that you can read, and very eco conscious as well.”
Khiantia Brinkley, owner of Tay’s Natural Butters, greets customers with a smile as she explains the array of homemade butter flavors she creates. Brinkley was inspired by a TikTok video to begin making vegan butter at home after seeing how simple the process was. She continued to experiment with her recipes by adding in different fruits and herbs. After her husband insisted that her butters were good enough to sell, she started her business in November 2020. Brinkley’s options included both sweet and savory butters, vegan honey and fruit jellies.
“Seeing people’s looks on their faces, they’ve never heard of blueberry butter before or strawberry butter. They do know what roasted garlic and herb butter is, but homemade is different from store bought. And there’s just the experience of meeting people and seeing everyone’s reactions when they try the butter for the first time about how good it is,” Brinkley said.
Sydney Lewis, owner of Light Love Candle Co., fills her tables with handmade candles of Kawaii-inspired design. Lewis discovered the art of candle making on Youtube and wanted to bring cute candle options to buyers in Florida. She began designing and selling her own candles in October 2022 and became a registered business in the state of Florida.
“They’re not just candles in a jar, they’re pillar candles, but they have cute designs like flowers, bubble candles, seashells, cake slices, cupcakes, just a bunch of different variety. I really just want to take the word candle and make it cute,” Lewis said.
“I think bringing the Melanin Monday Market to campus is very important because all of the businesses are Black-owned businesses, all local businesses as well. Being on a predominantly white campus, this gives us a little bit more recognition for things that we’ve been working on for the past couple of years, so I think it’s great to be able to bring that representation onto Flagler’s campus,” Frazier said.