BALTIMORE — The pandemic didn’t stop the grand opening of a brand-new center with shops run by young black entrepreneurs.
The E.M.A.G.E Center at 2132 W. North Avenue in West Baltimore is officially open.
Now more than ever it’s difficult to find opportunities to succeed as a small business.
CityWide Youth Development saw the need for training and space years ago to give young people with an idea a place to make it a reality and the EMAGE Center was born.
“We want to change the image of when people hear Baltimore City," said Rasheed Aziz.
Aziz is the Executive director of Citywide Youth Development where they teach people like sewing, screen printing, and how to run a business.
For years they have been setting up young people with mobile sorbet carts across the city.
“When you create hope in this city, with skills and resources, the outcomes will be different," said Aziz. "You really will make a difference and we really will have less crime and less poverty.”
The shops include Frozen Desert Sorbet and Cafe, Made in Baltimore Clothing, Pamper yourself Boutique, and Beoriginal Kidz Clothing.
David Lemus was one of the first success stories from the program and now he’s the designer at Beoriginal Kidz Clothing.
“I come from the hip hop graffiti so you try to guide them to look you don’t have to go to the vandalism part of graffiti," said Lemus. "Leave that alone because that will get you in trouble. You can make money out of this. Create a clothing line, you can do murals, you can do custom sneakers. I could train you”
Wisdom Abdul-Aziz created her clothing brand Stella Nera and enjoys being able to talk to people about the vision behind the clothing.
“We like to keep it simple and it kind of brings out the color of your skin and your melanin and just everything," said Abdul-Aziz. "It just kind of shows who you are as a person. It lets all your natural beauty come out and shine through.”
Right now, Shakoora Abdul Shakoor is in the program developing her business.
“I’m just looking to build my product and help other people start their own brand as well," Shakoor said. "My daughter she does her own art work and I’m pushing her to put her artwork in clothing.”
To learn more about Citywide Youth development and the EMAGE Center click here.