The Village at PCM, a new marketplace offering goods from around 25 Black local entrepreneurs, is now open at Atlanta’s renowned community hub Ponce City Market. Located on the Second Floor of the Central Food Hall next to Root Baking Co., the store boasts a modern, minimalist look and showcases individual brand identities.
A socially-distanced grand opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring many of its makers — including Hairbrella, J. Dow Fitness, Abeille Creations, Just Add Honey Tea Company, The Muted Home, World of Unoia, Savoir Faire, and Miso Living — and members of the public was hosted on Black Friday, Nov. 27.
The space officially opened for business on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 28. With a mission to help small businesses go from concept to growth, Lakeysha Hallmon — founder and creator of The Village Market — said she hopes that The Village at PCM’s role in spotlighting Black makers will lead to further success beyond their Ponce City Market shop, with placements in other local stores and businesses opening their own brick and mortar locations.
Founded by Atlanta-based Lakeysha Hallmon – the social entrepreneur, curator, speaker, educator, and creator of The Village Market – the shop offers a variety of products, including apparel, home goods, body products, and more. “The Village at PCM is all about positioning Black businesses for growth and strengthening the local community of small businesses, especially during these times,” Hallmon said. “To date, we’ve been able to circulate $4.5 million in the community through The Village Market.”
Hallmon transplanted to Atlanta in 2011 from Mississippi, and in attending several annual festivals across town, she noticed the lack of diversity in vendors and was inspired to launch The Village Market in 2016 to empower Black entrepreneurs through education, purpose-driven events, and community engagement.
“The Village Market represents what I saw growing up and that’s a village; that’s community,” Hallmon explained. “When I thought about how I found myself or saw myself in the world and what I would create, I wanted to create something that operated where there was both space and opportunity. Again, space for black entrepreneurs, space for just black people — black families — to be profitable, to thrive, and to operate in the highest level of excellence.”
For Hallmon, that commitment to supporting and growing Black business was realized even in building out the Village at PCM. Hallmon worked with Black contractors, Black artists, and Black interior designers.
“I was able to sit and design and create and visualize with black contractors and black interior designers. I’ve learned so much,” Hallmon said. “The walls (of the Village) are not only painted black, but they were physically painted by black hands. And the art is literally painted by black artists from the paint on the walls to the designs that people will see these images of black people, smiling that is done by an amazing black graphic designer.”
As many as 80 to 100 businesses typically showcase at marketplace events, businesses average $3,000-6,000 in sales within five hours of selling their products or services. To date, The Village Market has showcased and trained hundreds of vetted Black-owned businesses who specialize in conscious apparel/merchandise, all-natural products, and foods.
Businesses have literally grown from six-foot vendor tables at quarterly pop-up nights to now brick and mortar locations.
Since its inception, the initiative has become a staple in the city of Atlanta, adopting as its mission “to empower entrepreneurs through education, purpose-driven events, and community engagement” and motto, “Support is a Verb.”
A direct pipeline, the organization connects Black-owned businesses to engaged consumers and impactful resources and investors; it also reaches small businesses in 21 states and four countries, including an official partnership with The Bahamas.
“Our mission is front and center,” Hallmon said. “Beyond symbolic reasons, Black businesses need an opportunity to be positioned for growth and excellence and sustainability.
“It is almost impossible to generate generational wealth,” she continued. “If there is no access to capital, we cannot begin to retell this story of what it means to buy and build Black. The Village Market represents all those things.”