The Montreal market, which sells products made by black women, remains open

Aisha Temfack sells her handbags at the Black Woman Market.  (Kwabena Oduro/CBC - photo credit)

Aisha Temfack sells her handbags at the Black Woman Market. (Kwabena Oduro/CBC – photo credit)

A pop-up shop featuring goods made and sold only by black women on Place Versailles was supposed to stay open during Black History Month, but it was such a hit it will keep running until the end of April.

“It’s so encouraging, when it’s extended it means it worked – it means people like it, people want to come here, people want to support us,” said Aisha Temfack, showing her handbags at the Black Woman Market sold.

“It’s so encouraging. It is a confirmation that we are doing something good and should keep doing it.”

Temfack is personally selling her handbags for the first time in her company’s history and says Black Woman Market is the perfect place to start. When customers come in, she can chat with them and let them touch the wallets in a way that’s impossible when selling online.

The market also allows customers to discover other products after looking at what caught their eye first.

“I think it’s absolutely amazing and long overdue. I think having a lot of great women here allows us to capitalize on each other’s audience and experience,” said Temfack.

Kwabena Oduro/CBC

Kwabena Oduro/CBC

Cindy Matsi sells her spices at various markets around town, and since the launch of Sineha Spices last year, the Black Woman Market is the first store to sell her produce.

She loves giving demonstrations to clients and letting them smell the aromatic spices. Her business was born after taking a trip to Cameroon.

“It was so different from what you can get in the market, I was like, ‘People need to discover this, people need to discover the black pepper,'” she said.

Aminata Sall is co-founder of the Black Woman Market and says it was created to help black women get exposure for their products.

“It’s really important for our organization to ensure that the black women who are in business have a voice and are represented and visible and that it’s easy to find their products,” she said.

Kwabena Oduro/CBC

Kwabena Oduro/CBC

Sall also sells perfume, body sprays, and household sprays at the market, and uses many of the products sold there, such as body lotion, hair products, soaps, and cooking ingredients.

“Our goal is to look first in the community for whatever we need, if anyone is making it, before we go to another store to buy it,” she said.

The store doesn’t just get stuff from women who live in Montreal. For example, at the Black Woman Market, customers can buy hand-woven baskets shipped from Senegal.

Even after the store closed in April, Black Woman Market plans to open more stores across the city.

The Black Woman Market not only offers merchants a place to sell their products, but also creates administrative and marketing jobs.

Anthonia Louis, the shop’s head of marketing, says she’s always dreamed of working in an environment that shares her vision.

“I want it to get bigger and for people to really see and experience black products and see that they have quality and we deserve this space as much as any other group of people,” Louis said.

For more stories about Black Canadians’ experiences—from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community—see Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.




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