Black entrepreneurs ready for Taking BLK Gottingen

The annual market to celebrate African Nova Scotian businesses happens Saturday, July 17.

Jahtaya Skeete will be selling her Taya’s Ties line of tie-dye clothing at the Takin’ BLK Gottingen market.

Building on the success of last year’s debut, over 50 Black-owned businesses and vendors are back this Saturday for Takin’ BLK Gottingen. Vendors will transform streets and businesses along and around Gottingen Street with an assortment of food, clothing, art and performances in celebration of African Nova Scotian entrepreneurs and the north end. The market will take place both inside and outside across nine different locations from Propeller Brewery to the Halifax North Branch Library.

“I really want people to enjoy this fresh air that they can now have with each other,” said Kordeena Clayton, event organizer and artist of She Nubian Liberation, where she creates art and apparel, like her recent design collaboration was with East Coast Lifestyle and Halifax Game Changers. “Shop, support, mingle. We have a lot of catching up to do.”

click to enlarge Black entrepreneurs ready for Taking BLK Gottingen
Part of the Taya’s Ties manufacturing process.

Takin’ BLK Gottingen is also an opportunity for young POC entrepreneurs to take their businesses to the next level.

Jahtaya Skeete is the 11-year-old entrepreneur in charge of Taya Ties, a clothing brand that specializes in tie-dye apparel and accessories. An expert in dying techniques like “the spider,” Skeete’s idea to turn her craft into a business came after one of her mother’s Instagram posts was met with DMs for her designs. Since launching her brand in September 2020, Skeete’s passion project has blossomed with multiple product launches, collaborations and an overwhelming amount of public support.

“It’s turned into a family effort. It got to a point where things got so big that more people had to step in and take on responsibility, but that just speaks to how quickly the business has grown,” said Skeete’s father, city councillor Lindell Smith. “You never know, she might just have an employee next year.”

At Takin’ BLK Gottingen, the booth for Taya’s Ties can be found at the Foggy Goggle and will offer an assortment of clothing, masks and accessories from the brand’s summer line. Proceeds beyond labour and product costs will feed Skeete’s next project, a “take what you need, leave what you can” food pantry that Skeete and her family are putting the final details on at home. These funds will help keep the pantry stocked throughout the year.

click to enlarge Black entrepreneurs ready for Taking BLK Gottingen
Crafting turned into a business for Jahtaya Skeete after her mom posted a pic of Skeete’s tie-die.

“I really like helping people,” said Skeete, who has been volunteering for most of her childhood. “Food is really important because you need food. Everyone should be able to have a full meal like my friends and my family.”

Luxury Hair Kandy was also inspired by a childhood passion.

“I've always wanted to have my own hair business and I've always loved making wigs,” said Lakita Wiggins, owner and creator of Luxury Hair Kandy, which she started in May 2020 after years of working in the beauty industry. “I wear wigs for versatility. I love my natural hair but there are days that I might just put on a bright-coloured wig and feel even more confident.”

Wiggins grew up listening to stories about her grandfather’s wig shop, and has since transformed her passion into a career as an experienced stylist and professional wig maker. After years of constantly changing and damaging her hair, Wiggins developed a preference for protective styles. Cue the wigs.

A veteran of Takin’ BLK, Wiggins is establishing a pattern of introducing a new product at the market. This Saturday will feature the debut of Luxury Hair Kandy’s new hair oils, the beginning of the company's movement into hair care products. These oils can be used on all types of hair and were inspired by Wiggins’ family members who struggle with hair loss. “It just made sense to try to find something that would work for them.”

The market is hosted by the North End Business Association, The Khyber Centre for the Arts and Alteregos Cafe. It will run from noon to 5pm this Saturday, July 17, rain or shine.