Through Noir Creators Space, three entrepreneurs heeded the call of their community to aid other Black business owners gain visibility and access.
By Monica Godinez, Photos courtesy of Noir Creators Space
In celebration of Juneteenth and its long overdue commemoration as a national holiday, it is important for us as all to continue to fight for racial justice. Especially in our own backyards in the communities we reside in. Austin has long been considered a city of rich culture. A city in tune with the members of its community. However, this statement bears an importance that one cannot meet without criticism and acknowledgment of Austin’s ongoing racial disparity. If Austin is to remain a city known for its vast culture, we must address this. To do so, action we must taken for those who are at a large disadvantage within marginalized communities. We as a collective must continue to demand equality and equity for Black economies.
Austinities understand the importance of preserving the “weird” in Keep Austin Weird. “’Keep Austin Weird'” was coined because Austin kept it local,” shares Kim McCarver. “We were a big city with a small-city community feeling. Austin is no longer like this, and that saddens us deeply.”
The Master Plan
Former residents of East Austin and co-founders of the Noir Creators Space (NCS), McCarver, Tamisha Brewer and Porsha Hodge know firsthand the injustices the Black community has endured. “While I do feel like we are in the midst of change in Austin, there is no direct focus on the Black community,” says Brewer. “In the 1920s the city of Austin decided to push Black people from Downtown Austin. [The city] passed a [master plan]without letting them know. They just came down to their homes and business doors and told them they had to leave. At this time, these people were relocated to East Austin.
“Today people are once again being kicked out of their homes and communities,” she shares vehemently. “The Black population in Austin is shrinking, and it is no longer the Austin we grew up in. The city of Austin knows about us, they just decide to put our issues on the back burner.”
All three women currently reside in Pflugerville, along with a large number of other former East Austin residents. Pflugerville is among one of various surrounding cities that former East Austin residents call home. In 2019, The U.S. Census Bureau reported that 16% of Pflugerville’s population identified as Black. “Pflugerville is our home,” shares McCarver. “We want to do more here. A lot of people from East Austin transferred over, and they all appreciate the fact that we are hosting these events in Pflugerville. They love that they have a chance to host events in their own communities.”
The Noir Creators Space
McCarver and Brewer co-founded the Noir Creators Space. Hodge is the final member of this women-led team of three entrepreneurs. These women created this collective for BIPOC within their community. The Noir Creators Space mission centers on “[creating]a space where creatives can commune, receive visibility as well as network with others.”
McCarver and Brewer founded the collective in order to allow members of the community to gather and sell their products and services. “Our collective focuses on all Black businesses,” McCarver shares. “However, given we are three women, our niche audience tends to be Black women. They resonate with us and each of our stories.
“We are hoping to create this space with various resources for members of our community,” she continues. “We would love to have a build out in Pflugerville, specifically in The Colored Addition so that people feel secure and safe in their space.”
The Colored Addition lies within “the heart” of Pflugerville. As NCS details, the The Color Addition is two blocks of land offered to Black people who weren’t allowed to live in the city in 1910. “This land holds a lot of Black history and heritage that has been preserved, including one of the few landmarks remaining, St. Mary’s Baptist Church.”
“We are a transitional hub,” Brewer adds. “We want you to start here, find your direction and then go where you need to be. I want to create a home for people to come to. I think it is important for us to create opportunities to bridge the wealth gap. There is so much talent, and there are so many creatives among us! We want them to get the recognition they deserve. Our goal is to create this platform that allows these people to gain recognition and help continue to elevate these people.”
Challenges & How They Have Overcome
Given their growing social platform, it is important for NCS to continuously offer a variety of resources. That said, growing has come with a few challenges.
“I would have to say one of the biggest challenges we have faced is location,” McCarver shares. “We want our space to be a place of visibility. Centered in one location within our community where people are able to come back to. However, that has been difficult since we have to get different permissions from different people. As of now, Pflugerville hasn’t been the most responsive as far as getting them on board to use a certain space for a specific time. Moving forward, we want to be consistent and located in one area.”
“I agree, location has been a huge challenge,” adds Brewer. “I would also have to say that raising money for our creators has been quite difficult. This money allows us to support these businesses by offering them visibility and marketing opportunities. I will say I am really happy we were able to get a fiscal agent. So we now have the 501(c)(3) backing us. Another challenge is at times in our community there is a level of distrust” she continues. “For us, we think about how and what we can do to gain their trust. How do we show them we are a space about growing and showing true and honest intentions? It starts with us acknowledging that there is mistrust and then re-building this level of trust.”
“Overall our community has been really supportive,” Brewer says. “As soon as we put word out about the Noir Creators Space people reached out. People wanted to learn more about how they could get involved and what they could do to show their support. As our platform grows people see that and they want to be a part of it. Our collective holds a lot of positivity and people want to add their name to it.”
The NCS continues to grow rapidly. The support they receive has been “major, especially from entrepreneurs and small business owners from the community,” McCarver shares. “We created a space for these groups to expand past their comfort zone and become more visible within the Austin and Pflugerville communities. We especially love to highlight Pflugerville.”
“One of the best ways the Austin community can help support us is to be intentional with where you spend your money,” the duo shares. “Be mindful of how and who you are spending your money with. If you are able to shop locally, do so!”
Juneteenth Open Market
On Juneteenth, the Noir Creators Space opened their second Open Market in Rosewood Park. “The date was definitely intentional,” Hodge shares. “We wanted to have the market on a day of celebration. It was a great way to highlight these businesses.”
The event was in full bloom, filled with high spirits and feelings of community. The market coupled with the Juneteenth festivities of the parade, culture and firework show was monumental. Austin Woman was elated to come out and support their open market. The Noir Creators hosted another magnificent Open Market in Pflugerville on July 17.
For more information visit the Noir Creators Space official website.