Soul Swapmeet Brings Black Entrepreneurs Together to Showcase Talents

| October 12, 2020 | 0 Comments

Nearly four-dozen Black entrepreneurs gathered to share their goods and services at the Soul Swapmeet held on Saturday, September 19, at the Encore Events Center in Kearny Mesa. The businesses and organizations on hand ran the gamut from art and jewelry to clothing and food and much more. Organized by Shala Waines, founder of Creative Vibes, LLC, the goal of the day was to provide a venue for these small business owners to showcase their passions. While this was the sixth edition of the Soul Swapmeet, it was the first at the new location.

“I’ve been doing the Soul Swapmeet since 2018,” explained Waines, “I decided to ask the community if they would like to get together in one platform and try to showcase their goods and talents. The response was enormous, so this is like the sixth one we’ve done. We have about 42 vendors, and we’re looking to put this on once a month.”

“There’s a lot of African Americans out here, and there’s really no platform for us in the city of San Diego to gather together to showcase our goods and talents,” Waines pointed out. “By being able to put the Soul Swapmeet together, we’ve been able to bring vendors from LA, Murrieta, Palm Springs, and it circulated all over the internet and social media. Everybody has a passion, and I think it’s very important to get that out there because who knows what people are looking for in the community, and these entrepreneurs have some of those goods people are looking for.”

These passions, and the desire to share them, brought vendors from as near as Southeast San Diego and as far as Los Angeles and Murrieta. The entrepreneurs themselves varied as well, including teenage bakers and artists, retired military, and experienced small business owners. The event drew a substantial number of people during the day, who willingly followed the face covering and social distancing guidelines posted.

One of the most enthusiastic, and the youngest, of the entrepreneurs on hand was 14-year-old Xarieya Mitchell, a freshman at Lincoln High School. Xarieya is the creator and owner of Xarieya’s Vegan Delights (online at xarieyasvegandelights.com and @xarieyasvegandelights) which features 100 percent vegan and organic baked goods. She and her father started the business when she was seven because she was unable to eat many of the treats available at parties she went to. Today she does all the baking, while her father handles the marketing. Xarieya admits that the cost for ingredients does affect the final price but she is able to manage. “ Everyone says it tastes the same, so that’s a good thing, and the prices are reasonable for what they’re getting,” she explained proudly.

As a young entrepreneur, Xarieya faced challenges that many adults would not. Asked for her advice to other young hopefuls, she said, “Get a trusted adult so they can help you build your brand, social media, promote, and definitely have a good product and a good sales pitch to start it off.”

Across the parking lot from Xarieya was another talented baker, 20-year U.S. Navy veteran Chan Buie, owner of Hey Sugar! Buie was inspired, in part, by her experiences in the military as well as her love for the nostalgic desserts of her childhood in the South. She originally started her business in 2009 while still in the Navy, but had to shut down when she was deployed. On her retirement she decided to make this her life’s focus. Hey Sugar! is based in Murrieta, and Buie hopes to open a storefront early in 2021, but she delivers to San Diego on the weekends.

“We sell the Southern-style comfort dessert,” Buie explained. “The nostalgic desserts you remember growing up after Sunday church service, going and getting at the bake sales. San Diego is a melting pot, and there’s a lot of people from the South who wanted Southern food, so I actually started out as a caterer doing food and desserts, but my passion is desserts. We sell them in the slices, and we also sell them in the jars as a convenience.”

“Our brand is Hey Sugar!, so anything sweet,” she added with a smile in her voice.

A group sharing more than just goods was the faith-based organization Heart Soldiers, led by Nicolas “SK” Shivers. The 13-year-old group is based in El Cajon and currently works with about 50 youths in East County and surrounding areas. Heart Soldiers features two ministries: Playground Preachers and Kingdum Teenz, and was sharing their latest CD of music by the teen group, entitled Playground Preachers. Shivers was joined in the effort by Chad Lee and siblings DJ and Aliea Crouch.

“We teach kids to stay off of drugs and stay out of gangs, and we do music with them,” said Shivers. “Most important is bonding with them. Letting them know that we truly care. This is a walk. It’s being with them and making sure they develop correctly, and spending time with them.”

With the success of the latest Soul Swapmeet, Waines looks forward to returning to the Encore Events Center in October or November. The location is excellent, with easy access from multiple freeways for both vendors and visitors. For anyone interested in participating or attending future Soul Swapmeets, Waines can be reached at creativevibes619@gmail.com or at 619-530-1478. She can also be found on social media at creativepaintparties619 on Facebook or on Instagram @creativevibes619.

“I would say gather your hopes and your dreams, get them out there, and come and support the Soul Swapmeet,” encourages Waines, “because you never know who’s looking for your goods and your services, and you’ll meet the right person and start your dream career. Every day you should wake up doing something you’re passionate about, so whatever you have stirred up in your heart, your passion, your soul, get out there, put your best foot forward and get out there and do it. You can only fail if you don’t try.”

Shala Waines, owner of Creative Vibes LLC, is the organizer of the Soul Swapmeets.

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I am a long-time educator, writer and editor. I have taught English from middle school through community and technical college at public, private and charter institutions. Over the years I have also been a writer for sports and news organizations as well as a photojournalist. Currently I am the English Department Chair at a charter middle school and the writer/editor for a local media company.