From doulas to video rental shops, Santa Cruz has no scarcity of black-owned companies

Juneteenth – celebrated annually on June 19 to recognize the end of slavery in the U.S. starting in 1865 – has been widely recognized nationwide and right here in Santa Cruz, including historic moves in Congress this week to make Juneteenth a state To make a holiday.

This year Black Surf Club Santa Cruz set the stage with a pre-June liberation paddle-out on Sunday, and this weekend the city will host guests who “believe in freedom and equality for all” with multiple gatherings welcome, including a liberation hike on the Wilder Ranch and music, dance and delicious soul food in Laurel Park on Saturday and an event on Sunday where the Black Lives mural on Center Street in front of City Hall will be repainted.

While Juneteenth is an excellent opportunity to learn and celebrate black history and culture, it can also be an opportunity for locals and visitors to connect with Santa Cruz’s own black business owners.

In 2019, black or African American residents made up just 1.5% of the county’s population. In Santa Cruz itself, that number was slightly higher at just 2.1%, but still low.

Troy Chasey, a Santa Cruz resident, moved to the area in 1999 – it felt right at home, “he said – and soon after started his business, Capitola Design, with his wife, Kathleen. He said he felt valued and welcomed by the Santa Cruz community – but in the past 22 years he hadn’t noticed much of Black representation in the small business community or in the community at large.

“I’ve spent most of my life in areas where there weren’t as many blacks as there were other races,” he said.

With the domestic and international upheaval surrounding the assassination of George Floyd last year, Chasey wanted to create a stronger sense of community among black business owners in Santa Cruz County. He started making contacts across the county, and Black Owned Santa Cruz was launched last summer.

“The community actually got in touch,” he said. “People accepted that there was this problem that black business owners were facing and they looked for ways to support them.”

The criteria for listing are simple: Any Santa Cruz County company or contractor with a black client or partner can be listed. The online directory contains over 40 entries, from music teachers to restaurants and personal trainers.

Below are just a few of the companies listed, with the black business owners describing their own experiences of working in Santa Cruz County and their plans for the future after COVID.

Brie Buxton, Doula Services Laboratory

Having a mother who worked as a labor and delivery nurse for the Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz piqued Brie Buxton’s interest in the labor process. Years later, after the birth of their first child, Buxton pondered her career plans and “fell in love with the idea of ​​helping other people through their birth because I was so well supported”.

Buxton soon received her birth and postpartum trade association training and began providing full doula services to families across the county, including puerperium, miscarriage, and adoption. She says she is grateful and excited about every customer she interacts with on her own journey.

“Every birth I attend changes the lives of the people who experience it and the doula who accompany them,” she said. “The more I do it, the more awe I have for our bodies and our abilities, and I am more attracted to advocating and supporting families.”

During the pandemic, Buxton faced the challenges of COVID-19 restrictions on hospitals, with restrictions on who could enter the delivery room. She joined some of her clients via video calls and encouraged others to focus on home and out-of-hospital births – but there was still a lot of fighting that she and other doulas hope won’t happen again.

“We need people to support this new family and this transition to parenting,” she said. “I’m here to help – we can’t just let families down on this great parenting journey, and that’s what keeps me going.”

Ashlyn Adams, Westside Video

Ashlyn Adams joined Westside Video in 2004 and became a shop owner four years later. In the 13 years since, she has taken many turns in the video rental model, not to mention the film industry itself, but she remains convinced of the importance of Westside Video.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Website: http://www.westside-video.com/
Phone: (831) 607-9378
Email: [email protected]
Address: P.O. Box 381, Santa Cruz, CA 95061

“Video stores are very common areas,” she said. “I’ve seen a whole generation of this city grow up – it feels vital, and that community has definitely grown closer over time.”

Prior to the pandemic, Adams and her team prepared screenings and gave Santa Cruz locals space to come together. They had to switch quickly to protect themselves and the customers, store everything from the brick and mortar store, and start the Movie Mobile to deliver to customers who order films through the Westside Video website. Adams worked to take care of her staff, but she didn’t want this to be the end of the store.

News of the assassination of George Floyd last May sparked interest in the Santa Cruz community in helping local black-owned businesses, and more customers turned to Adams. A few months later, Adams was linked to the Black Owned Santa Cruz Directory and was able to focus on the future of the business with the support of a new business network.

“After all the time trying to build a community center through movies, it felt really good to have a new kind of community not just for clients but for me as well,” she said.

Adams and her team plan for the coming months keeping in mind the changing COVID-19 guidelines and aim to focus more on a community-centric focus with outdoor and virtual screenings alongside film-related courses.

Valeria Miranda, Santa Cruz Art League

Originally from Rio de Janeiro, Valeria Miranda came to the US almost 30 years ago and has lived in Santa Cruz County for the past 20 years. Over that time, she has delved into working across the arts, from museums to nonprofits, and joined the Santa Cruz Art League in 2016. She notes that she was often the only person of color in her positions, emphasizing the importance of creating opportunities for other people of color in art.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Website: https://www.scal.org
Phone: (831) 426-5787
Email: [email protected]
Address: 526 Broadway, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

“The arts are a great way to give voice to difficult subjects and complicated emotions – so people can express themselves in ways they might not otherwise be able to,” she said.

The Santa Cruz Art League celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2019, but closed its doors just a few months later amid the pandemic. Forced to consider other avenues to accomplish the organization’s mission of “providing a space for artists to collect, create and display their artwork,” Miranda and the board took the opportunity to try new things, such as virtual classes and more local artist representatives.

After reopening in May, the staff will focus more on showcasing local and more diverse artists.

“Before what happened last year, I and other black business owners here – no one really paid any attention to us,” she said. “And we’ve been doing this work for a long time – show more representational issues.”

Troy Chasey, Capitola-Design

Capitola Design was founded in 2001 and specializes in marketing, advertising and graphic design for print and web customers.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Website: https://www.capitoladesign.com/
Phone: (831) 465-1972
Email: [email protected]
Address: 4420 Esta Lane, Soquel, CA 95073

Troy Chasey – co-owner alongside his wife Kathleen – was first inspired by his mother to dive into the world of graphic design and said he “even started out as a kid”. After moving to the Bay Area from San Diego to study at UC Berkeley and then working for software companies at Mountain View, Chasey worked as a graphic designer and eventually moved over the hill.

Even before founding Black Owned Santa Cruz, Chasey saw a greater sense of community wanting to connect with black-owned companies. Since its inception, Chasey has contacted many other black business owners and learned “more than half” through the creation of the directory.

“It is helpful for everyone to be able to network with one another,” he said. “The development of this directory is to provide personal networking opportunities and connect more people with one another.”

Chasey says he loves working with local businesses and companies that have just started and watching Capitola Design’s clients’ new ideas come to life during the creative processes. This work resulted in more connections with blacks, BIPOC owners, and small businesses that came together in more meaningful ways amid the pandemic.

“We’ve created a personal connection where there wasn’t before – I feel a real connection with all of the people who decided to sign up,” he said. “It felt good to be sharing this information with the community from a place of celebration.”

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