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I Was Gone Because I Was Opening My First Store in Brooklyn… I’m Back Now

Avatar • Sep 19, 2017

I said I was coming back to blogging and then I disappeared again. Well this time I’m back for good (seriously) plus I was gone for a good reason.

Selling whipped shea, cocoa and mango butter out of my Brooklyn apartment was no longer sustainable. My boxes took up the bulk of the building’s shared basement and hauling 50 lb cases of raw butter up two flights of stairs was not ’empowering’ anymore.

My lease was up and I had the choice of going through the whole drama of trying to find a bigger apartment and a landlord who would put up with my sprawling operation, or just get a storefront. I chose the latter.

The room in my apartment where I operated BGLH Marketplace. This was moving day. In another set of pics you’ll see a sampling of alllll the boxes that were in the building’s basement.

Moving day.

I found a cute little spot in Bed Stuy, right on Marcus Garvey Blvd at the intersection of Kosciuszko St. And so began my nightmare.

Before the work got started.

First there was the horror of moving all the boxes out of my apartment basement to the shop space. I had to move them *before* my contractor started work on the space. Which meant he had to maneuver around a humongous pile of boxes that we pushed against various walls according to where he needed to work next.

All of this had been in my basement.

Let that sink in for a minute.

Like… my god.

And by the way every horrible thing they say about working with contractors is true. Over budget, past deadline, sending ME to Home Depot to find supplies. Like what the hell do I know about plywood and sheetrock?? Didn’t stop my contractor from having me go find stuff for him. And I don’t mean ‘pick up’ stuff. I mean FIND stuff. I was in the aisle searching ‘proper subflooring for hardwood’ on my phone, hands shaking, praying I did not buy the wrong stuff.

I want you all to know that I literally, *literally* went to Home Depot every day in the month in August. Sometimes two or three times a day. And it was horrible. The leering men, the horrible customer service, the disorganized store layout.

My plan was to open the shop on August 15. That didn’t happen. As mid-August came and went I’d go home at night and curl myself into a ball. Oh wait, no because I have three kids under five I had to put to sleep first *before* I could curl into a ball and weep silently at what felt like a huge mistake.

Finally, *finally* in early September the shop was done enough that I could begin accepting customers.

We weren’t completely finished. But I did not care. I was accepting customers no matter what.

I designed our sign, learned our ‘point of sale’ system (which is the fancy word for cash register. Apparently things have changed since I was a child.) But finally, save some minor details, the shop was completely ready for business.

Cash register and plant.

Butters!

We whip the butters right in the window! That’s my shop assistant Zawadi. Hey girl!

The view from outside.

More butters!

The day our sign went up!

This was a gamble, but it felt like a move I had to make. I jumped off a cliff and I still don’t know what the outcome will be. But I’m proud of what I created.

It’s been a couple weeks since we began taking customers and things have been good. Settled enough that I can manage my blog team again and continue accepting online orders at bglh-marketplace.com.

The shop’s grand opening is on October 1. If you are in the area please come on down! I’m also hosting a BGLH meetup in the space on Saturday, October 7 at 11 a.m. It will be a small gathering. Just 40 people and some brunch‑y refreshments. If you live in the area and want to meet me and see the space, please enter your email below.

So, in summary, no I didn’t abandon BGLH. Yes, I’m back blogging for good. And yes, now I have a shop.

~Leila

BGLH Meetup in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn at BGLH Marketplace
358 Kosciuszko St, Brooklyn 11221
(at the intersection of Kosciuszko St and Marcus Garvey Blvd, beside Fermento Cafe)
Saturday, October 7 at 11 a.m.
Refreshments provided.

RSVP

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MiMi
MiMi
3 years ago

WOW.
I’m obviously behind because I didn’t know you’d moved out of Chicago, let alone to Brooklyn and had this in the works. Congratulations! Your hard work is going to pay off. I wish you continued success. This is just the beginning.

AshleyK
AshleyK
3 years ago

Congrats! This is so awesome. I love the whipped shea butters.

Nancy
Nancy
3 years ago

Good for you sista! All will be well

Tiah
Tiah
3 years ago

So proud of what you have accomplished! Blessings to you for accomplishing fear. I pray you have much success in the years to come! Keep loving our sistas hair!!

Kylana
Kylana
3 years ago

Oh wow, Leila! Congrats! I will be sure to visit the store the next time that I am in NY.

Lisa
Lisa
3 years ago

I am so happy for you! I have been reading your blog for so long..Just the other day I was wandering why I haven’t seen you in my inbox. I live in Florida but I come to NYC often I will be stopping by.

Yolanda Humphrey
Yolanda Humphrey
3 years ago

Congratulations!

Mels20
Mels20
3 years ago

Wow! So proud of you! Congratulations on your success business woman!

Mia
Mia
3 years ago

Congratulations!!!!!!!!!! This is so awesome! I’ve relaunched my small business of selling whipped butters & this such an inspiration! 😀 So happy for you & I don’t even know you! #goals

Vic
Vic
3 years ago

SO proud of you and your accomplishments!!!!

Makini
Makini
3 years ago

Hey girl very proud of you. Good going!!

Michelle
Michelle
3 years ago

Proud of you for jumping off that cliff!!!

Tarla Thomas
3 years ago

This right here!! I just started a business and have been going through equal amounts of happiness and joy, and trepidation and fear. Thinking my God, I. Did. It. Then thinking, my God what did I do?!?. I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of years now, although I never comment. But I had to shout you out dear sister, you are an inspiration! Your store is gorgeous, and I wish you every bit of health, prosperity, and blessings. More of us should take the plunge, no one becomes a success by sitting still. God bless you and your… Read more »

lourdes
lourdes
3 years ago

Congratulations! This is inspiring! Wishing you so much success!

Sonya
Sonya
3 years ago

WOW!!! You are quite literally one short block from my house. I couldn’t be excited for you (shoot, and me!) I can’t WAIT to come visit! Congrats and good luck!

Elizabeth McCarty
3 years ago

I’m so proud of you I could cry. I’ve been following BGLH since what seems like the beginning, girl–like wayyyyy back and I love how you are evolving. Best of luck to you! I’m nowhere in the area, but congrats ??????

Elizabeth McCarty
3 years ago

I don’t know why question marks showed up! Was supposed to be exclamations LOL ?

Elizabeth McCarty
3 years ago

It did it again ?????

MandM
MandM
3 years ago

I am so proud of you! This is very exciting. Thank you for the inspiration! Lots of luck!

Nikki
Nikki
3 years ago

Congrats!

Leslie
Leslie
3 years ago

congratulations!

LaToya Codner
3 years ago

Congratulations on your new store. How exciting!!! I loved hearing about your journey, and though I don’t know you personally, I am very proud and happy for you. I live in Los Angeles, so I won’t be able to attend, but good luck!!! Sending hugs and good vibes your way.

Christelyn
3 years ago

Wow I am SO proud of you!! The store looks fabulous. Can people buy your butters online? I’d like to put out a little announcement on our blog, Beyond Black & White. Please email me christelyn@beyondblackwhite.com

Dori
Dori
3 years ago

Beautiful shop, Leila. Congratulations on seeing your vision through! Many years of success to you!

Gillian, Canada
Gillian, Canada
3 years ago

Leila, congratulations to you and your team. I hope you will find many “villagers” to support your thriving online & brick and mortar business and continue your success with BGLH.

Yvonne Wilson
3 years ago

This makes me soooo happy! Congrats and when eye’m back in Brooklyn eye’ll stop by.

Inspiredbeauty
3 years ago

Congratulations! The store looks wonderful. It’s great to see #blackgirlmagic come to fruition. I wish you the best and much success!

Yolande
Yolande
3 years ago

CONGRATULATIONS!!
The shop looks amazing. You must be so pleased.

Sharon
3 years ago

Congratulations!! The store looks amazing.

cindy mindy
cindy mindy
3 years ago

Congratulations! I live in Manhattan but will try to stop by the next time I am in the BK.

Jessica
Jessica
3 years ago

Wow congratulations!! Good luck!!

Jazz
3 years ago

Congratulations! That is an amazing feat and, of course, fear played a role but you pushed through it. Wishing you much success!

Lauriane
Lauriane
3 years ago

Amazing , I’m so happy for you and your new shop ,

I wish you all the best and I also wish I could come and meet up to see your (really cute) shop

Loves from Brussels !

Dee
Dee
3 years ago

Congratulations! It ia worth every minute!! I want to bring my natural girls and their friends when we visit NYC!!

Marcella
Marcella
3 years ago

Graduation on the new spot!!

Eden
3 years ago

This is AMAZING Leila! Congrats to you! This gives me the strength and courage to venture out myself and open up my own store abroad. Thank you for your story and I swish you all the success to come! Peace and many blessings to you! You ROCK!!!!

Bethsy
Bethsy
3 years ago

Congrats Leila!! You are sooo inspiring. I live in Canada and won’t be able to make it to the launch but gosh!!! What you achieved is simply stunning! Keep on working hard and being passionate about what you do! I will pray constantly for your success!

anayo
3 years ago

WOW! Congrats! What awesome news — much success to you on your new venture!

Patronia
Patronia
3 years ago

I’m so proud of a woman of color to do her thing. As long as you continue to do what’s in your heart, you will always be successful. You may go over a hill every now and then. But you will succeed. May you continue to prosper and take care of you and your family. You also did a wonderful job on your shop. Good luck and it’s from the heart.

Tania G.
3 years ago

It looks incredible! I, too, am in the process of opening a business and can commiserate with all the foreign languages of contracting. I am literally sitting in the space now, typing this comment on my laptop, in a cramped room full of light fixtures and whatnots. Your photos give me encouragement. Congratulations!

Taiadha
Taiadha
3 years ago

Congratulations!

Greta
Greta
3 years ago

Congratulations to you for opening your 1st store (really cool) & wish you continued success. Thanks for sharing the ‘rough patches’ too! Determination pays off. Would love to stop in when I’m in NY.

Formally Iamsonotmyhair
Formally Iamsonotmyhair
3 years ago

Congratulations! It looks beautiful. If I’m ever in the area I will check it out!

Lola
3 years ago

Love this post! The shop looks amazing, it’s great you took the initiative and now you have your own space you can call your own. Congrats!

Summer
Summer
3 years ago

This is amazing! Congrats!

Barbara Felton-Wilson
Barbara Felton-Wilson
3 years ago

Hi Leila! Congratulations on the new place!!! I will see you on the 7th. I would like to volunteer my services for the Meetup.

EddieB
EddieB
3 years ago

Congratulations on the new venture, Leila! Best wishes, love & sunshine from South Africa — EddieB

Japanese.Lunch.Time.Rush.
Japanese.Lunch.Time.Rush.
3 years ago

Congratulations! We have to make sure this works out well for you!
Thanks for giving me a another reason to take the train into NYC. I may rsvp for your meetup, got to check my work schedule~

Kathy
Kathy
3 years ago

Hi Leila I’ve been buying your butters for myself and my daughter and granddaughter for a while. I love them. I’m glad your back up. Just wanted to say a few words of encouragement. First and foremost your butters are awesome. They are always fresh smooth and consistent. Thank You. With that said your business is going to really grow and before you know it you will be looking for a bigger space. The fact that you had the courage to jump and you did it girlfriend. Look around you and. E proud. More of us should have the courage.… Read more »

Ashley Blanco
3 years ago

I am SO happy for you! Yes, Black Business! This is a fantastic reason to be absent from blogging!!!! =D

Christi
Christi
3 years ago

Congratulations Leila! What an incredible move! My partner and I just moved from Bedstuy last year, and I’m sad I’m missing this but I will tell all my friends that will hopefully stop by for the grand opening!

Guest
Guest
3 years ago

Congratulations!!!! Bold move!!!!

Joy
Joy
3 years ago

CONGRATULATIONS!!! What a journey, so proud of you girl! That leap of faith paid off. Many blessings!!!

Because of Reasons
Because of Reasons
3 years ago

Congratulations! I had been wondering/worried what was going on with the blog, so it’s wonderful to see that the absence was because you were making other major black entrepreneurship moves. Wishing you so much success with the shop!

Michelle
Michelle
3 years ago

This is AWESOME!! Congratulations on your shop!

Sylvia
Sylvia
3 years ago

Congratulations! I hope to check it out if I am ever in New York 🙂

Silvia of The Blessed Queens

Hey Leila, I Really love what you’ve been up to! Amazing work and so worth it! I remember i came over few times last week and was wondering what happened 🙂 Glad to see things are moving well!! I wish you all the absolute best and I am excited to see how far you will reach!!

Jen
Jen
3 years ago

Congratulations!!!!!!!!

Sasha-Shae
3 years ago

Congrats Leila!! That’s awesome and I will definitely be coming by the store ? it’s looks great and all the sweat and tears paid off!! ?

Bev
Bev
3 years ago

Congratulations on your opening and perseverance… With 3 little ones in tow! All the best to you. New inspiration to complete a couple projects of my own.

Jemila
3 years ago

Congrats, Leila! Wishing you much success with the shop and BGLH! ??

alice
3 years ago

congratulations!!

Rachel Moore
Rachel Moore
3 years ago

Congrats, Leila! This is amazing!

Kay
Kay
3 years ago

Excellent work. I love the stylish creativity look of the shop too! Well done.

Chan
Chan
3 years ago

Congrats! May your business be sucessful for many years to come! I’m proud of my sister!

Lurie Daniel Favors
3 years ago

I literally passed the store last week and did a double take. I couldn’t stop in but was thrilled to see it there! Looking forward to buying my products there!

prazdance
prazdance
3 years ago

Congrats and Great Job!! 🙂

Kadiatou
Kadiatou
3 years ago

I’m soooo excited for you!! You’re truly an inspiration for black entrepreneurship. I pray all the best for you now and forever in your future Sis!

shirley
shirley
3 years ago

COGRATULATIONS!!!!! Your success is so inspiring. I look forward to stopping by and even making a purchase. Hope I can contain myself!!! lol

Amber
Amber
3 years ago

That’s what’s up! I am so happy for you girl. No matter what happens, you have accomplished a huge feat! Blessings and peace to you and yours lady. P. S… I love your butters.

Valerie B.
Valerie B.
3 years ago

Congratulations! MUCH SUCCESS TO YOU AND YOURS!

Denise
Denise
3 years ago

Congrats??????

aiych
aiych
3 years ago

Congrats! Happy for you

Alice
Alice
3 years ago

Congratulations and much success. I am so proud that you push through and followed your dreams. I love your products.

Jennifer Stewart
Jennifer Stewart
3 years ago

Congrats

Niqua Raye
Niqua Raye
3 years ago

Congrats, all of that ripping & running to Home Depot payed off. It looks great! Many blessings to you!!

Aries
Aries
3 years ago

Dope! Lovely store! I’m excited for you!

Eva
Eva
3 years ago

Congrats on your new brick and mortar!!! You’re very inspiring . I will definitely stop buy and support.

Donna
Donna
3 years ago

Congratulations! I’m so proud of you. Best wishes to you & your family.

Slut O'Crat
3 years ago

Congratulations! That is a truly amazing accomplishment. Best of luck.

T Young
T Young
3 years ago

Wow ! First off, congratulations!! You are such an inspiration. You have given my that little push I need to go ahead and turn my very small hobby of making butters into a business. I’ve literally just been making for family and friends, but I’m ready to do more. I have no idea of where to start, but I’m jumping in. And one day, I will be where you are !! Congrats again and good luck !!

Natalie
Natalie
3 years ago

I posted on another thread asking for the storefront location, which I now have. My daughter is coming on our behalf.

We have to support our own and continue to encourage one another’s success! All the best in your continued journey as an entrepreneur!

Faith Kel8
3 years ago

Congrats!

Eon
Eon
3 years ago

So I can come in to by products!!!!

Relle
Relle
3 years ago

Oh my goodness!!!! Well done!! Well done girl, I’m so happy for you ? I’m in he UK, but when I next come to NY, I will for sure make a stop to support you and your shop. It’s looks beautiful in there.
I’m sorry you had a rough time with the contractors — I’ve had similar experiences with them and they are hard work. But now is your time to enjoy your hard work! Well done again x

Burt
Burt
3 years ago

I pass by your store front every Saturday morning. I CANNOT WAIT for it to be opened! 🙂
Super excited! Congrats!!!

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