Something amazing is happening in Harlem and I can only hope that this wave of positive change continues.
COVID-19 was an unexpected pause in the lives of millions and for some, it was a devastating experience. For others, it was that needed suspension of time and responsibility that only something this huge could accomplish, which was a reset.
In my Harlem neighborhood, when I finally poked my head out, I discovered many businesses had closed. But to my surprise, in their place, were new establishments being run by women of color.
On Amsterdam Avenue, starting at 145th Street, there are three new establishments and one on Frederick Douglass Blvd.
The oma, shop
1707 Amsterdam Ave – www.theomahome.com/
This brand new coffee and gift shop features coffee from Counter Culture along with assorted pastries from Colson Patisserie, and gourmet bagels from Blour Bagel by Catherine Yoo. It’s a very small space but the vibe is pure despite the crack addicts loitering in front of the store. Owned and operated by an African American couple, who’ve been together since they were in their early teens, their space also offers unique gifts from local artists of color.
1705 Amsterdam Ave
646-418-7893 – Appointment Only
Dolled provides lash extension services and also offers certified lash classes and is owned by Vevica (@lashbarbieee) who has been a licensed cosmetologist for 4 years, specializing in individual lash extensions and training.
1610 Amsterdam Ave – https://www.avrililillys.com/
Avril Lekic was born and raised in Harlem’s historic Hamilton Heights district, so it’s only natural that she and her husband (Esad Lekic) open their first gelato shop in her own backyard. This family-friendly spot also offers an authentic specialty bakery and their small batch artisanal gelateria is made fresh, daily, using the finest ingredients available. Just six months old (Jan. 29, 2022) this spot is quickly gaining the support of the community; besides being delicious the vibe is uplifting and Harlem friendly, get me? “This is a family space,” says Avril Lekic, “and we want everyone to feel welcome when they walk into our doors.”
All City Legends
2854 Frederick Douglass Blvd. – https://allcitylegends.com/about-2
This graffiti spot is owned by Jakee (Jakee & Crown) who has loved graffiti since she was 12 years old. There are not many women holding it down in the game but she’s known and “after years of thinking and procrastinating, on Nov. 28, 2020, All City Legends was born.” For a graffiti writer, walking into this space is sensory overload, like when you were a kid and you strolled inside a toy store. It’s packed with a full-color assortment of spray paint, caps, markers, inks, canvases, books, graffiti/art supplies, pins, and collectibles. Plus, they offer the largest assortment of art by some of the biggest names in graffiti, and they specialize in custom stickers, decal printing and they make pins. To keep the culture alive, if a store owner is looking for a talented artist to make their vision come alive. They make custom items.