Sandra Larson has been writing for the Bay State Banner since 2009 and has contributed more than 100 stories on urban issues, including extensive coverage of foreclosure, affordable housing, minority jobs issues, and the city’s revitalization plans for Dudley Square in Roxbury. For the Banner and for Exhale Magazine, she has interviewed and profiled many prominent women, among them author Isabel Wilkerson, playwright Lydia Diamond, FACE Africa founder Saran Kaba Jones, former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, and Massachusetts first lady Diane Patrick. Sandra holds a bachelor’s degree in biological aspects of conservation and a master’s degree in journalism. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in urban and regional policy. She lives in Boston with her husband and 12-year-old son.
At Eye & Eye Optics, owner Bobin Nicholson wants the experience of choosing the right eyeglass frames to be as enjoyable and relaxing as the reggae music he loves. In 2010, the Dorchester resident purchased the former Peters Optical business in the Lower Mills neighborhood and retrofitted the shop to reflect his style and create a full-service eye care facility with an ophthalmologist on staff.
Entrepreneur takes a DIY approach to building a business
Inside a tiny storefront on Jamaica Plain’s South Street, the light-filled interior of Faith’s Naturals feels surprisingly spacious. White walls, a high white tin-paneled ceiling and light-toned wood shelves, coupled with a few deep-pink accents, create an inviting look to the narrow space. Neatly arranged on the shelves are jars and bottles of face and body scrubs, oils, soaps and hair care products, all handmade by owner Faithlyn Scarlett with plant-based ingredients such as flaxseed extract, arrow root powder, aloe vera gel extract, coconut oil, honey, lemon juice and crushed oats.
While the Greater Boston area has grown more diverse over the past five years, the region remains racially and economically segregated, a new report shows, with the average income 18 times higher for the highest-earning fifth of households than for the lowest fifth, and widening income and wealth gaps disproportionately affecting blacks and Latinos.
In Boston, 18,709 woman-owned businesses employ 26,209 people, account for more than $4 billion in sales and provide more than $208 million in tax revenue, according to Women Entrepreneurs Boston (WE BOS). Yet by many accounts, women face greater challenges in raising capital and attracting investment for their businesses and in finding mentors and supportive networks. A program of the city of Boston’s Office of Small Business and Office of Women’s Advancement, WE BOS was launched in 2015 to help convene and support women entrepreneurs.
The logo of La Fábrica Central, the new Spanish Caribbean restaurant and live music spot in Cambridge’s Central Square, features a trapiche, the type of wheel that grinds sugar cane into molasses. La Fábrica means “the factory,” and the symbolic logo, along with an actual 400-pound steel trapiche shipped from the Dominican Republic to Cambridge to adorn La Fábrica’s dining room wall, pay homage to the workers who toil in the Caribbean islands to produce sugar, molasses and rum.
Berklee students learn music business basics from John Kellogg in for-credit classroom and online courses. But in 2014 Kellogg opened the door for people anywhere to be schooled in basic legal and business aspects of the music industry at no charge, by developing the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on music business.
The Ujamaa Bazaar, a pop-up market organized by the Black Economic Justice Institute, Inc., will be open every Saturday this month from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the large hall at 61 Columbia Road in Dorchester. BEJI recently moved its headquarters into the lower floor of the building, which is home to the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers, Inc. (MAMLEO).
Organization helps people of color rise through corporate ranks
The Partnership, a nonprofit with a mission of diversifying Boston’s corporate leadership pipeline, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Since 1987, the Boston-based organization has offered leadership development programs to nurture the talent of African Americans and, increasingly, other people of color traditionally underrepresented at the highest levels of business and industry. Over the years, the organization has worked with some 300 partner organizations and now has a network of more than 4,000 alumni.
Outside the Box Agency President Justin Springer’s path has always been nontraditional, and his entry into entrepreneurship is no exception. A few years ago, when he was frustrated by a string of unfulfilling jobs and job searches, a friend mentioned Future Boston Alliance, the organization known for championing innovative ideas for Boston, but less known at the time for its new business accelerator program. To his surprise, he received word that he’d been selected for Future Boston’s accelerator cohort.
A jury of design experts, city officials and residents of Roxbury’s Garrison Trotter sub-neighborhood is evaluating six development proposals submitted as part of a city of Boston pilot Housing Innovation Competition launched last November.