Two Black-owned businesses are first to open at new development in St. Paul’s Frogtown

Two months after launching their distinctive companies in St. Paul’s Frogtown area, two Black women business owners want to leverage their success to give back to the neighborhood.

The companies of Joyce Sanders and Shaunie Grigsby are now located at the Frogtown Crossroads retail area, which is situated at University Avenue and Dale Street. Grigsby owns the Flava Cafe, while Sanders runs the apparel chain Urban 29.

The Neighborhood Development Committee’s founder and CEO, Mike Temali, expressed excitement for what the two new businesses have started to contribute to the neighborhood even if the other three spaces in that side of the building are presently unoccupied.

Temali referred to the new café as “a tremendous psychological boost for our neighborhood, to have a meeting space.” The fact that they are Black women business owners sends a powerful statement to our community. and company owners are basically branding this area as a lively, entrepreneurial location by creating money, cultivating culture, and maintaining ground.

Sanders and Grigsby’s road to launching hasn’t been smooth, but they both want to help the vibrant and distinguished area.

Sanders, a native of Minneapolis who worked as a banker but developed an interest in fashion after seeing friends succeed in their own companies, founded the first Urban 29 store in Minneapolis in 2019 near the intersection of Lake Street and Chicago Avenue. Men’s urban clothing is available at the shop.

Sanders said, “I simply wanted to carve myself my own path and live my own life. “I simply wanted to invest in myself, and because I had the enthusiasm and fantastic customer service abilities, it just sort of developed from there.”

When George Floyd was killed by the police and rioting broke out in the neighborhood, Sanders’ Minneapolis site had become successful and was getting ready to mark its one anniversary. Sanders was compelled to leave the neighborhood after the burning of the structure that housed Urban 29.

Sanders reserved a space in the Bloomington Mall of America last year, but she views the July opening of the new Frogtown facility as a chance to reclaim what she believes was misplaced in Minneapolis.

Sanders held a backpack drive and provided free food to passersby during the store’s grand opening, and she said she hopes to do similar activities this winter to foster trust and demonstrate her support for the people of Frogtown.

Sanders expressed his desire to integrate into the neighborhood after the company had grown. I want to host these little gatherings so that others in the neighborhood may get to know us and we can return the favor.

Owner of Flava Cafe Grigsby, who relocated to North Minneapolis eight years ago and obtained a doctorate degree at the University of Minnesota, understood when she opened her coffee business that she wanted to assist community development by working with young people.

Grigsby purposefully employed local youngsters ages 15 to 24 to assist her create and manage her quirky, cozy, and vibrant boutique in order to achieve that aim. Grigsby intends to serve as a mentor to assist young people in finding success over the long term via anything from social media marketing for the café to assisting with sales at farmers markets.

Before I ever created a program, Grigsby began interviewing individuals to find out “what are the things that will make it useful for you to want to turn up every day?” They really want greater attention paid to who they are as people and how to best support them in developing their professions.

In addition to these initiatives, Grigsby said that since opening in July, she has loved engaging in routine, daily contacts with residents of the community.

People often comment that this is the kind of location they have always desired but have never quite known how or when it will materialize, according to Grigsby. People are glad to have a coffee shop nearby, but they will also come to read or do their schoolwork, which wasn’t really an option previously.

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