Vendors at North Philly Flex. Photo credit: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News
Vendors at North Philly Flex. Photo credit: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News

Local diverse businesses featured at North Philly Flex

The Student Diversity Council at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University promoted over a dozen local businesses through a community vendor fair.


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“North Philly Flex” was held on May 9 by Temple University’s Student Diversity Council. It came out of a desire to support the local community by promoting diverse small businesses in the area. The group put on a similar event last year called Give Back, Buy Black, which took place virtually. North Philly Flex featured over 20 local businesses. 

Putting on the event took a lot of cold calling businesses and following up. Thankfully, many vendors said ‘yes’ to coming on the first call. The SDC also had to make sure the word got out about the event. 

The North Philly Flex event took place in the atrium of the Lewis Katz School of Medicine. This was in part, to encourage students coming into the building to buy from the businesses. 

Randolph Lyde, MD, the outgoing Council Chair described the event’s turnout as “great.” He said that there was a flood of people right at noon when the doors opened. There were ebbs and flows throughout the day with about 100 people coming in as of around 2:30 pm. The event itself went until 5 pm.

Lyde also shared that the event will be annual and will hopefully expand in the future. The SDC had initially wanted to extend the event to the gardens and add things like blood pressure screenings but eventually decided to scale it back for the first event.

Some of the vendors at the event spoke with AL DIA about their respective businesses, how they got involved in the event, and the importance of highlighting diverse businesses in Philadelphia. 

Social Impact Cafe PHL

Erika L. Stewart is the owner of the Social Impact Cafe. The Social Impact Cafe works on a hybrid model to bring fresh food to people in the community. They work with schools to bring the food to kids during the week and bring it to the community on the weekends. 

The Social Impact Cafe works with different vendors that are local to the area. She was invited to come and figured out how much she could share with six feet of space. Stewart gave out various vegetables, apples, maple syrup, and pancake mix. 

The importance of highlighting diverse businesses in Philly is giving businesses access to communal space and a platform. Stewart noted that if you're mobile, this is crucible for your business to have until you can get a brick-and-mortar store.

Social Impact Cafe owner Erika L. Stewart
Social Impact Cafe owner Erika L. Stewart (left) talking about the types of produce she brought. Photo credit: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News

Sprinter Cosmetics

Geneva Pugh used to be a sprinter for Morgan State University. She is now the CEO of Sprinter Cosmetics. As a runner, she always wore makeup while running. 

Sprinter Cosmetics was created from Pugh’s love of track and field, as well as the stigma she encountered that said that “women can’t workout, train, compete and still be beautiful.”

Her business offers waterproof cosmetics that can be worn while working out. 

Pugh participated in Temple’s small business incubator and was later invited to the North Philly Flex event. 

When asked about the importance of highlighting diverse businesses in Philly, Pugh noted that small business owners make America. Communities need small businesses so that they’re not dependent on big corporations.

Sprinter Cosmetics is hosting Philly Speed Jumpers, a jump rope event to bring the community together and promote exercising in a fun and easy way, on Saturday, June 25 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will take place at Dell Music Center in Philadelphia. Click her for tickets to the event. If you would like to be a vendor at this event, click here for tickets.

Sprinter Cosmetics owner Geneva Pugh
Sprinter Cosmetics CEO Geneva Pugh. Photo credit: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News

Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse

Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse is the first and only Black woman-owned comic bookstore on the East Coast. Arielle Johnson opened Amalgam in 2015. 

Johnson is a graduate of the Fox School of Business with a degree in accounting. Although not the usual accounting gig, her background has helped the business.  

Her goal with Amalgam is to uplift voices in the comic book industry that aren't always heard, and to have comic book characters who look like the readers.

In addition to comics, Amalgam offers coffee and pastries. They also host monthly events, including Magic Friday, where people come in and play Magic: the Gathering, and a First Friday open mic.

To her, the importance of highlighting diverse businesses in Philadelphia is to raise awareness and increase a business’ opportunities to get more resources since female and POC-owned businesses often don’t have access to the same resources that others do. Johnson argued that if no one shops at small businesses because they don’t know about them due to a lack of exposure, they will fail. 

Amalgam owner Arielle Johnson
Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse owner Arielle Johnson. Photo credit: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News

Other vendors at the North Philly Flex event included Amatullah’s Treasures, a boutique that sells clothing and a variety of accessories; W Cosmetics, a luxury cosmetics brand that promotes authenticity, boldness and confidence; and A Single Suggestion, which sells handcrafted note cards and other stationery items.



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