Margaret Asuquo, who started a small jewelry and craft business called Marge’s Creations and Designs last year, says it’s amazing to have the opportunity to sell her work alongside other creators at the Black-owned vendor market in St. John’s. (Jessica Singer/CBC)

Margaret Asuquo says she’s been creative her entire life, always picking up new hobbies that allow her to use her hands to create something beautiful.

Being able to sell her original work — including beaded bags, earrings and necklaces — alongside other Black artists and creators at a vendor market is nothing short of “amazing,” she said.

“It is like the biggest pat on the back,” said Asuquo, who started a small jewlery and craft business called Marge’s Creations and Designs last year.

“To kind of see it come to life and then hear people like kind of say, ‘It’s beautiful’ and everything is like, oh my God, my heart is full. So it’s amazing.”

The Black-owned vendor market celebrated its third anniversary Saturday on George Street in St. John’s, an event that included live music and performances, as well as Black vendors selling clothing, food and jewlery.

A woman wearing a bright orange, blue and red sun dress smiles while standing beside a table covered in brightly coloured textiles and clothing.
Nicole Obiodiaka is the organizer and founder of Centra, an organization that works to curate cultural experiences in the city, including the Black-owned vendor market, which celebrated its third anniversary on George Street Saturday. (Jessica Singer/CBC)

Nicole Obiodiaka is the organizer and founder of Centra, an organization that works to curate cultural experiences in the city, including the vendor market.

This year’s market was the biggest yet and the first on George Street. Last year it was held at the St. John’s Farmers’ Market. 

Obiodiaka hopes the market will continue to grow and expand.

Not only is the market a “beautiful” way for small businesses to showcase their talents and creativity, Obiodiaka said, but it’s also a way for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to experience other cultures. 

“It can be through shopping, through dialogue, through the music, like, it’s a whole multisensory experience to immerse yourself in our culture,” she said. “So it’s beautiful.”

Margaret Ajayi, the owner of St. John’s baking and catering compan Meggs Cakes & Events, moved to the province around four years ago from Nigeria. She can’t remember how many cakes she’s baked or events she’s catered since she arrived.

A woman wearing a black shirt stands in between two young girls.
Margaret Ajayi is the owner of Meggs Cakes & Events, a baking and catering company in St. John’s. Her daughters, Abigael and Esther, both vouch for their mom’s baking skills. (Jessica Singer/CBC)

Events like the vendor market help her introduce her talents to people who may want to try Nigerian-style cuisine and intricately decorated cakes, she said, things that are adored by many in the province already.

“People here, they always like to try new things, especially the food and the cake,” said Ajayi, standing beside her two daughters, Abigael and Esther, who both vouch for their mom’s baking skills.

“[Customers] always come back and give a good review that they love it.”

Asuquo said the vendors have become a small family, always helping each other and dancing together to the music playing at the market. It’s fun, she said, and a perfect way to share the joy with others.

“I think it’s a chance for people to just step out of their comfort zones and, like, get the chance to experience something new,” said Asuquo.

“It’s nice to feel it in Newfoundland, because we don’t get it enough, but having something big like this for African culture and Caribbean culture and just Black people in general is amazing. It feels so nice.”

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

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‘It’s beautiful’: St. John’s Black-owned market helps small businesses share culture, creativity
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