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Black Business Month: Two Milwaukee businesses focused on health and wellness

The number of Black-owned businesses is currently at more than 30% above pre-pandemic levels and that's being driven largely by Black women.
Posted at 5:13 PM, Aug 18, 2022

MILWAUKEE — August is Black Business Month, a month in which Black businesses and Black entrepreneurs are recognized and celebrated for their successes, milestones, and historical progress.

Throughout history, Black businesses have endured systemic racism, redlining, as well as urban renewal and construction which wiped out most of historic Bronzeville in Milwaukee.

Bronzeville is experiencing a revitalization of successful businesses. Shakkiah Curtis, the owner of Spinn MKE, just opened her new establishment off King Drive.

"For me, it was really important on where I chose to open business so it would be accessible to the community that I grew up in, I live in, and I want to build and so that was the goal," said Curtis.

It's no secret that the entire economy was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, but according to research, the number of Black-owned businesses is currently at more than 30% above pre-pandemic levels and that's being driven largely by Black women.

"I pride myself on just accepting the challenge, I think a lot of times we allow excuses or the judgment of others and my thing is if I come to the table I know what I'm bringing," said Curtis.

Shakkiah is an HBCU Grad and a mother of two who not only owns Spinn MKE, but she also works a full-time job and teaches at a local university.

"It's the daily grind of how do I continue to not only build but be a part of what I'm trying to build and be the example for my girls and accomplish all the things that are on the plate," said Curtis.

Spinn MKE is located on W. Brown Street and their classes are designed around their love for hip-hop and being accessible to everyone.

"I chose this kind of fitness because it's low impact on anyone. So that was kinda the thought process of what can I bring that everyone can get on, have fun, have community, and be fit," said Curtis.

There's another Black-owned business in Milwaukee that's focused on health and wellness. FIT4YOUMKE is co-owned by Rob and Jolie Brox.

"Our mission is to educate the citizens of Milwaukee, to highlight the benefits of a healthier lifestyle, to engage everyone," said Rob.

Rob has worked as a fitness trainer for over 11 years, but this is their first brick and mortar. They're known for their specialty products, especially their lavender lemonade.

"So when you come inside our marketplace, our best sellers are our lavender lemonade, then we also have alkaline water and the city's first alkaline ice machine," said Jolie.

Fit4YouMKE has been honored as a small business by the Milwaukee Bucks and they've survived history's worst pandemic.

"Because the city classified our business as an essential business because of the products that we provide it put us in a position to continue our products. Another huge thing that we were sure to take advantage of were grants that were available to small business owners," said Jolie.

They have a goal to continue to grow their business while also supporting other businesses.

"Our grand opening wasn't just to highlight our business, it was to highlight every single business in this plaza which is the North Bay Shopping Plaza and the Silver Mill Shopping Plaza," said Rob.

Both Spinn MKE and Fit4YouMKE are great examples that supporting Black businesses helps ensure equitable outcomes and is a step forward in addressing the racial wealth gap.

"It's bigger than us, we have a mission, we have a goal, we have a purpose and we're just going to inspire everyone that jumps on board," said Rob.

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