Culture Vendor Event Brings Small Businesses To The Quad

Justin Murray, Staff Writer

In 2022, starting a small business requires a lot more than just a lemonade pitcher and a wooden stand. Many small business owners face challenges–from a lack of consumer attention, to finding a place to host their business, to figuring out how to balance business and education or work. These are all reasons why AIC’s Culture Vendor event matters. It was hosted by the Student of Color Working Group on Thursday, April 21st from 2 to 6PM.

There were a range of businesses to browse during my visit to the vendor tables set up outside of the campus center. One vendor was selling beauty products from Boosted Beauty (by Kailey Marie) with face care and hair care products.

There were plenty of options for fashion, such as Beads by Ja’nae with jewelry and accessories made out of beads, as well as phone tags. There was also a hair braider who went by the name of Keke (@ki._hairz on instagram) who did braids and twists and sold waist beads on the side.

Beads by Ja’nae attended the Culture Vendor event, hosted by the SOCWG.(Justin Murray)

Piece by Piece Jewelry is hosted by Olivia Sousa, who also does bead necklaces and bracelets in addition to charms with zodiac signs on them.

Looking for new clothes? The clothing brand Popular Loner was co-founded by Joshua Shervington and Jaysen Sullivan. They had hoodies and sweatpants with their logos on them, featuring a figure of a man on his phone all by his lonesome.

What if one isn’t looking to buy new goods, but repair them? Well, there was also a shoe cleaning service by Malik Barrett that he calls “Refresh My Culture,” where he cleaned shoes and sneakers.

Malik Barrett hosted a table for his clothing restoration service, “Refresh My Culture.” (Justin Murray)

If hungry while shopping, there were also several food options to choose from. There were many large and colorful displays. Bree’s Cuisine and Sweets by Na’Bree had a pleasant mix of food like shrimp linguini, pasta, and garlic bread along with sweets like cupcakes.

Na’Bree hosted her table for Bree’s Cuisine and Sweets. (Justin Murray)

Cece’s Palace by Stephanie Gauvin had a lot of homestyle dishes such as rice and peas, baked mac n’ cheese, each with an attractive smell to pull you in. Those with a sweet tooth would also be pleased with Desserts with Tahh, by Tashir Ballard. I acquired an aesthetic cinnamon swirl cake that I found addictive and well-layered for only $5.

Desserts with Tahh offered a table full of delicious confections. (Justin Murray)
A small cake was one of the several items for sale by Desserts with Tahh. (Justin Murray)
An assortment of food from Cece’s Palace. (Justin Murray)
An assortment of food from Cece’s Palace. (Justin Murray)

A lot of vendors weren’t just run by the owners, however. Their friends were just as present and supportive. It was common to see three or more people working at a single table. If the owners were feeling shy or overwhelmed, their friends always had their back. Multiple times, I heard, “It’s your business; you should be in that picture!” and similar statements to motivate their friends to stand proudly with their tables while they were photographed. The community support they received was moving and there was a very strong turnout from AIC students. Some tables even saw a competitive crowd trying to get a look at this or that first.

According to, 41.3% of businesses said they were going on a hiatus between 2020 and 2022 — temporarily closing due to the pandemic. 1.8% even said they were closing for good. Between keeping themselves and customers safe and happy, small business owners have had to take a number of precautions to keep everyone healthy. But this has inadvertently made the small business boom that they dreamed of much harder to realize. The Culture Vendor Event is an important step in the right direction, giving businesses somewhere small but safe to advertise their goods without sacrificing school time or social interaction with their peers. Hopefully it will occur again sometime in the future.