Three Black creative businesses were selected for the ORIGINS Room to Grow Residency to gain access to stable and affordable work spaces where they have room to grow.

Sha’Lari Couture

What started out as an idea for a hobby, quickly evolved into a handbag and accessories business. A few months in, Shannon Richardson received a custom order for a diaper bag for a baby shower. Little did she know, this diaper bag would be the catalyst to what would soon become a bustling custom diaper bag business shipping 350+ custom diaper bags to 47 states and 7 countries.

“As the owner of Sha’Lari Couture, I had always dreamed of being a woman’s clothing designer.  Little did I know that my childhood dream would take me in a different direction.  Instead of designing women’s clothing, I would end up designing handbags and accessories,” said Shannon Richardson.

As her business grew Shannon wanted to expand and take her business in a different direction. She shifted her focus from working with fabric to working with leather. Shannon was able to combine her experience and ability to design and create to teach herself the art of leather crafting, but she needed a work space that would allow her to expand her production and design collections of leather handbags and accessories, all hand cut, sewn, and assembled in her studio. In the ORIGINS Room to Grow Residency, Shannon focused on expanding her designs and production capabilities to grow her brand visibility and sales. The residency helped Shannon move from her home studio into her first leased space, located in the McKees Rocks Radiant Hall.

Rebel Bred Clothing

Nathon Brooks, the owner of Rebel Bred Clothing, is building a business to educate, inspire, and uplift his community. “There aren’t many brands that promote strong values and highlight historical African American figures, and I wanted to change that,” says Nathon Brooks, Rebel Bred Clothing. Nathon was able to access technical assistance in marketing and business planning from Bridgeway to accelerate the growth of his emerging business. The support prepared Rebel Bred for the next big step of moving his business into a storefront.

Being enrolled in the ORIGINS Room to Grow Residency connected Rebel Bred with a storefront to activate for his studio and retail shop in the commercial business district of Wilkinsburg, PA, a corridor that is experiencing a renaissance as once vacant storefronts are being revitalized by local small businesses. Beyond his empowering clothing brand, Mr. Brooks wants his journey as an entrepreneur and the support that was available from ORIGINS to encourage more Black-owned businesses to startup, grow, and bring economic opportunity to their communities.

“I want Rebel Bred to prepare the way,” says Nathon Brooks. “To create an inspirational path for others to follow.”

Island Fresh Skincare

Marilyn Dice is a third-generation soapmaker with roots in the Deep South. Her grandmother made soap out of necessity and she continues this tradition today by developing products that are non-toxic and gentle on the skin. Island Fresh Skincare developed from her travels to tropical locations. Her products are made with fewer than 10 ingredients and all products include organic components, like kukui oil, cocoa, mango, and shea butter.

“My products are formulated from the best that nature has to offer to nurture, condition, and love your skin,” said Marilyn Dice.

Over the next year, Marilyn plans to increase her market presence locally and nationally and prepare for a more permanent manufacturing space. Marilyn participated in the Room to Grow Residency to take the step of moving her business from its home studio into space located at 7800 Susquehanna Street, a light-industrial factory transformed into a hub for makers and manufacturers in the Homewood neighborhood of Pittsburgh.


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