October is NOT Diversity Month – An Advocate for Locally Black Owned!

Elliott concludes his series of blog posts on why October is Black History Month and NOT Diversity Month by showcasing locally black owned businesses in Croydon.

For us to thrive as an ethnic minority group we have to create our own lanes and master our crafts… then we can expand, prioritise recruiting our own and take it nationally to wider demographics.

London is said to be the world’s cultural capital. Croydon is predominantly a BAME borough – it was recorded in 2017 that 52% of the borough are actually registered as an ethnic minority (or I should say majority in this case).

We are blessed to see what can happen when black people are granted equal opportunities in society, so many of us have been able to acquire the funds, whether it be private or a start-up loan, to open brands across many different industries.  More and more schemes are being set-up to give our people a fair crack of the whip in the commercial sector – I personally would like to see wealthier black entrepreneurs invest in young black ideas in a bid to help our own.

Ethnic minorities have already risen up in the sporting industry, the music industry and creative arts, but there are loads of private businesses that are excelling and providing fantastic contributions to their local communities in London. Month after month, we are seeing an influx of hairdressers/stylists, E-commerce platforms, restaurants, bars and more dominate our high streets.  I personally take pride in giving loyal custom to our local people trading daily.  I wanted to use this post to showcase different private black owned ventures in the Croydon area, some of which I use myself and would like to recommend.

Rich4Life

The owner Ryan, comes from a health & fitness lifestyle which inspired him to provide fresh options for the community.

This Deli & Juice Bar opened recently in June 2019. From Jamaican descent, it is a private family owned business that specialise in producing unique, freshly-squeezed juices and smoothies.  All done right in front of you from scratch, it’s probably the healthiest and cleanest place to grab a fresh drink in the borough.  Their menu was created by the owner, Ryan, on a trial and error basis to ensure the perfect recipe was made.

They also serve homemade Jamaican specialties: Guinness Punch, Sorrel, Pattie choices, including an interesting ackee & saltfish one that has a little callaloo in there, which was pretty decent tasting!  I brought two of those (Ryan says the recipe was something his grandmother use to create).  You can get a high-end large beverage in there for around £3.50-£4.50, Patties priced at £2 which are quite filling too.

Locals in the area of CR7, if you have not been there yet, you ought to pass by and get in on the act early.  If we push that place, I think it has potential to do very well.

Cornfield Bakery

Cornfield for me, is the most honourable black owned business in CR7.  A bakery that has been in business for about 20 years now, they bake the best bun, hard dough bread and other Caribbean delicacies in the whole borough.

Anyone from Thornton Heath will know that this place really comes to life in the Easter period on Good Friday! From 9am you will see queues going down the high street, everybody waiting for fresh bread and fried fish. Cornfield also provide a variety of homemade hot meals – fried chicken, patties and other little things. You could go in there with perhaps £10 and leave with a fair amount of food. A few years ago, when I was quite young, they were the only place in Thornton Heath that sold Shirley biscuits, which were like holy grail at the time. For bread, bun and bulla cake, I would suggest Cornfield as the best place in the borough.

Yahso Bar & Grill

Just by walking in, you can already see the island vibe from the outside!

It’s referred to as a “Bar & Grill”, and I would say it’s a fair representation… although I really only go in there for the alcohol at their cocktail bar! Their bar menu is fairly priced and the quality is genuinely superb – I would highly recommend this place, no matter how far you live.  It is the type of place Thornton Heath has screamed out for, for many years.

Black owned, and it’s great to see a collective of black groups providing custom in there, enjoying themselves. The atmosphere is very energetic and positive. I think more local residents that are Chinese, Caucasian, Indian etc. should visit to give it a more public and diverse feel. It’s a great place to dine, so why not? The interior is well designed too, with a proper island feel in there, retro wooden shelves to hold alcohol in the bar and a water fountain outside in the front. It’s an overall beautiful experience for Caribbean food in the area.

Although the front seems quite tight, the back of the restaurant provides booth seating that is spacious for groups.

Cocktails are priced at £8-£10 and with a standard priced menu that has main courses costing anywhere from £9-16, you can go in there by yourself with £15-20 (no alcohol). I would say it’s better than Dutchie and Turtle Bay in the Croydon Town Centre. Best Caribbean restaurant in the borough to sit down and dine.

Mula Cake (Mula Community Hub)

When I was growing up in school, there were a lot of clothing lines that came out, all of which had the whole of the borough on the bandwagon – if you wore Trapstar, Ghost Him or anything else you were a “cool kid” to put it in layman terms.

One of the brands that came out was Mula Cake. At the time I never knew who was behind it, but I just remember a phase where everybody was wearing the bobble woolly hats in the winter! I later found out that it was community enthusiast Dexter who ran the show.

He’s been doing some fantastic work for the youth in London and despite him having a hugely successful clothing line, he has now altered his attention to the Mula Community Hub, situated where his shop use to be.

The hub allows youth to host podcasts, print shirts and gain business advice.

Mula Cake are still running clothing through e-commerce online, so you can still stay caked up. I know they are releasing seasonal garms for us to stay fresh from summer through to winter! On a separate note, credit to Dexter for using his resources to empower youth and give them a platform to grow.

Collaboration won’t kill you

One of my personal notes to self is that in 2019, I am better off collaborating than competing. I always say this, more so with the Brexit situation, why in this moment in the world, would you want to disconnect yourself from the opportunities that are out there because you “want your country back”?

With the rise of social media, pay per clicks, youth leaders and overall contributions in society, you are better off collaborating than competing.

I want to use this post to encourage fellow black people to collaborate with each other, find a way to tune in together and make use of each other’s audiences. At the same time, give custom to local high street businesses – your £5 goes a long way to seeing them progress. The same way we can influence memes and jokes on Twitter, we can 100% build an empire of wealth and innovation.

Stay connected with me, I would love to hear feedback and ideas from you all.

Elliott is a strong advocate of pushing local black businesses in London.  You can stay updated on what he’s getting up to by emailing hello@puresolace.com or following him on Twitter: @EJ_PSOLACE

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