Friday, September 7, 2012

Women’s Initiative Graduates “Popping-Up” and Sticking Around

By Nellie Stokeld, Partnership Development Associate, AmeriCorps VISTA

We here at Women’s Initiative for Self-Employment love to brag about the successes of our clients as they start and grow their businesses. That is why we are thrilled to see some of our graduates being recognized for their success and innovation in not one, but two, recent articles on

The women featured in these articles are champions in the growing trend literally popping up in Downtown Oakland. Anyka Barber will be celebrating her gallery’s one year anniversary at her new location at 1427 Broadway, called Betti Ono Gallery, at this week’s First Friday Art Murmur. Anyka originally started her business as a pop-up gallery in the Marquee Lofts across from Fox Theater. She said she got the idea to follow the path to entrepreneurship after speaking to her friend and Women’s Initiative graduate, Erica Varize, who owns Evarize Cut And Sew Boutique in Berkeley. Her new gallery, now in a much bigger space, will be shared with yet another Women’s Initiative graduate,  Penelope Adibe, owner of Nneka and the former co-owner of the pop-up store OakCollective, in the same 1427 Broadway location. Rachel Konte, who had co-habited the OakCollective pop-up has now opened her own permanent location for Owl N Wood at 45 Grand Ave. Similarly, the article points out several more successful graduates, whose brick and mortars are reaching great success: Bakesale Betty’s Alison Barakat and Telegraph Avenenue’s Shoe Groupie, owned by Dion Bullock and Candice Littlefield.

The list could go on and on about the amount of Women’s Initiative graduates who are bringing energy and life to downtown Oakland; on any given lunch break I can come across four or five of our graduates’ businesses within a short walk from our offices on the corner of 17th and Telegraph. The women featured in these articles, however, are part of a larger trend. Pop-up storefronts are becoming a popular and economically viable alternative to empty storefronts and high barriers to entrance for entrepreneurs. We’re happy to see these women seeking creative solutions to strengthen their businesses and enliven the neighborhood. Be sure to check them out in their new locations and Art Murmur celebrations this Friday!

And now you can find more of our graduates’ businesses in the Orange Pages, our online business directory newly available through our partnership with LocalOn.

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