The idea for opening up a laundromat came during college when Shantae received a rejection letter from the Department of Human Services, citing a criminal past as a reason not to hire her. Discouraged, but then inspired to not let her past stand in the way of her future, Shantae decided “I’m going to have to have my own business so I can hire myself!” She knew that two essential steps to opening her own business were writing a business plan and securing funding. She was referred to Neighborhood Development Center, where she successfully completed the Microentrepreneur Training program in the spring of 2008, with a solid business plan that would lay the groundwork for All Washed Up. What she hadn’t expected, however, was the financial assistance that would come from this relationship.
Thirty years ago, friends Ron Whyte, Bob Edmond, and Gene Sampson spent days having friendly BBQ cook offs in the park, in competition with one another to find the best combination of flavors. They collectively came up with something amazing, and people started to notice. They began to sell their hickory-smoked ribs, and Big Daddy’s Barbeque quickly emerged.
Emancipated from her family at the age of 15, and now a single mother of three, De’Monica Flye knows all too well the reality of facing and overcoming obstacles. A strong character gifted with talent, De’Monica used the challenges she faced to fuel her passion for performing and turned it into a business: D’Flye Entertainment. Within D’Flye Entertainment De’Monica acts as both a performer and a producer. Her two bands, Hi-Definition and the newly formed Another Level, perform R&B, Jazz, and Blues throughout the Twin Cities. Her production company, D-Flye Productions, books local and regional talent and hosts old school R&B and steppers nights at Arnellia’s in Saint Paul, as well as the occasional fashion show. De’Monica recently signed with Thompson Management and will be recording a new album at Waterbury Studios in Minneapolis.
Aracely Zagal learned the art of piñata making growing up in Mexico. In 1999, after ten years of living in Minnesota, she seized an opportunity to turn her art into a business when she learned about plans to open a Latino-themed public market in South Minneapolis. Inspired by the absence of culturally familiar goods and services, a group of Latino immigrants worked together to create a vision for the Mercado Central. NDC, in partnership with Project for Pride in Living and Whittier CDC, helped the entrepreneurs realize their vision and the Mercado opened in 1999, with Aracely’s Dulcería la Piñata offering endless varieties of Mexican candy and handmade piñatas to wide-eyed customers.
Owners Daymn Johnson and Dedrick Young have created a dynamic, highly visible barbershop in St. Paul, filling one of the original retail spaces in the Frogtown Square project at University Avenue and Dale Street. Grooming House has fast become a friendly, positive neighborhood gathering place, strikingly attractive in its interior, with original design and branding by the owners.
Noelia and Enrique Garcia moved to the United States in 1993, right after getting married in their hometown Quebrantadero, deep in the heart of Mexico. They brought with them a dream and a recipe: a dream to create a new future for themselves in a country filled with possibilities, and a recipe passed down to Noelia from her mother Felipa Vazquez, who made and sold tamales to support her family of eight children.
28 years ago, Manny González moved to Minnesota with two dreams: to learn English, and to own his own restaurant. He realized his first dream quickly. In 1998, he read about an innovative, Latino-organized, NDC-supported project coming to East Lake Street: the Cooperativa Mercado Central. They had space for five food businesses, and Manny saw a chance to realize his second dream. Manny enrolled in NDC’s 16-week entrepreneur training program. From that class he developed a business plan, and as Manny says with a contagious grin “that’s how everything started!”
Bright colors, crayon-drawn artwork, ABCs and numbers galore, and the gleeful sounds of happy kids greet you as you walk into NouNou’s Place, a new child care business on the East Side of St. Paul. Nou Thao, the creative talent behind NouNou’s Place, opened her business in the summer of 2012, after nearly four years of preparation.
Rob Chalmers uses magic to show people that things aren’t always what they seem; to challenge perceptions and change attitudes. Rob combines his background in psychology and education with his unique manner of communicating to work with people’s differences and help them better understand each other. He continually leaves audiences inspired, motivated, and full of laughter.
Sonora Grill opened in 2011 to high praise from customers and critics alike. A fusion of Spanish and South American cuisine, with influences from the owners’ native Sonora, Mexico, Sonora Grill boasts a 100% scratch kitchen. Everything, from the cilantro aioli to the wiener in the famous Sonora Hot Dog, is prepared from scratch in their Midtown Global Market kitchen. The only exception is the buns, which travel the long distance across the market from the Salty Tart bakery, where they’re made fresh daily.