Dr. Lakeysha Hallmon- Founder and CEO, The Village Market ATL
Why She Inspires Us: Lakeysha is diversifying the local artisan scene by giving Black entrepreneurs a place to access capital, connect with customers and thrive at The Village Market ATL.
One of Dr. Lakeysha Hallmon’s favorite past-times is attending local festivals, but she noticed there was something missing from Atlanta’s festival scene. The vendors all looked the same. This led her to discover decades of inequality for Black business-owners, especially in access to capital and real estate opportunities. And so The Village Market ATL was born as a one-stop-shop for Black Business to be fully supported from ideation to polished product with a storefront feature.
What’s the best advice you can share with other entrepreneurs? The best advice I’ve received is to be intentional and thoughtful about everything I do relating to my business. That means valuing every experience, listening to my team and treating all people well. I think it’s also important to rest. When things get tough and I need to feel motivated again, I like to spend time outdoors in nature, riding my bike, hiking and kayaking.
What is something you’ve learned during your experience with The Village Market that surprised you? I am surprised by how much we’ve grown and scaled since 2016. We’ve had tremendous success and impact in less than five years. The Village Market has circulated more than $4.5 million to Black-owned businesses in the U.S. and has supported businesses abroad (including Australia, South Africa and the Bahamas). Additionally, we have trained, showcased and supported over 100 businesses in Atlanta alone. We are incredibly lucky to have built such a strong community of businesses and consumers that has led us to flourish with our first retail location during a pandemic when so many obstacles threaten the very foundation of our economy, which are small businesses.
What does it mean to say, ‘support is a verb?’ It’s The Village Market’s mantra—a critical reminder that supporting Black-owned businesses requires us to act. Support is not passive. It requires us to be intentional about the ways in which we engage and support Black-owned businesses.
How much money did you raise from friends and family to launch The Village Market, especially with no investors? I raised $2,500 from friends and family and used my savings for the remaining monies needed to launch.