Illustration Adobe Images
Downtown Tulsa Partners selected the six, of which four are Black-owned, from 18 applicants. Two black-owned businesses, 5th & Fab and Mi’ Tea Lounge, were opened on Boston Avenue last November as part of the Popup Pilot, and they continue to lease space in the same location today. The 2022 pilot made it possible for 11 entrepreneurs to open storefronts in nine vacant downtown locations and resulted in $27,000 of revenue for those businesses.
Pop-Up Downtown allows emerging and growing entrepreneurs as well as established local brands to test the Downtown Tulsa market through affordable short-term leases in ground-floor retail spaces. The program also seeks to activate Downtown Tulsa through increased foot traffic and expanded diversity of Downtown business owners and shopping experiences, says Emily Scott, Director of Planning & Vitality at Downtown Tulsa Partnership. “Pop-Up Downtown was designed to increase the amount of retail offerings Downtown for holiday shopping while amplifying the work of local minority small businesses and entrepreneurs.”
The participants also receive business consultation to help refine their business operations and maximize their potential for success; store staging and marketing consultation from downtown property owners including Elote Café & Catering, Foolish Things Coffee Co., Mi Tea Lounge, Rabbit Hole Bar, Bounceless and Bite Way. More details about Pop-Up Downtown can be found at DowntownTulsa.com/PopUpDowntown.
The six new stores opened to foot traffic during the Downtown First Friday Crawl on Dec. 1, and their short-term leases continue through January 19th. These six stores and a few others are featured in our 2023 Holiday Gift Guide.
411 S. Boulder Ave.
Music production services, apparel, artwork and literature
Tulsa poet and publicist CNOTE Wilson has been involved in music and arts for decades. His first retail store will feature poetry that he has written along with other books, apparel that reflects his own philosophies in life, art prints and a music kiosk where musicians may license music in the store and then record it in an adjacent studio/lounge. Wilson will create his own productions from the studio as well and feature live entertainment on a regular basis. The space is not only for business, but also for building community through a common appreciation for the arts. Wilson said he intends to use this space to “lift the veil” on the music industry through mentorship on the business side of the industry, including the importance of licensing and retaining music rights. He’ll advise on the basics for people who want to score music, write songs, be a music publicist or a manager. Wilson said the industry is wide open and technology makes it easier to record, but having the paperwork and an understanding of copyright law is key.
Wilson said he chose to apply to the Popup program because he had seen his colleagues succeed within the previous cohort, and he intends to be here for the long term. His goal is to increase his artistic presence and product awareness through the storefront in the middle of the Central Business District and extend his lease with the owners of the buildings once the Popup program expires.
Black Pearl Diamonds Publishing is featuring its mystery gift box for this holiday season, which will include a mix of products available in the store.
The Boxyard, 502 E. Third St., Unit #4
Stylish eyewear, including prescription and reader frames
Rene’ Bramlett, known as Mz Rene’, grew up in Chicago with glaucoma, subjected to teasing because of her “coke bottle” glasses. Once she was correctly diagnosed and found the right optometrists to help her improve her vision, she wanted to help others. Her storefront will be combined with her nonprofit, The Speak Eyes Foundation, to increase glaucoma awareness and during the holidays to be the entry point for youth ages 6-16 to enter a giveaway to receive a pair of blue light blocking eyewear. The 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway entries will be accepted at the store Tuesday to Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m and until 6 pm on Friday and Saturdays, through Dec. 13. One of the 12 gift winners will be announced live on the shop’s Facebook site each day from Dec. 14 through Dec. 15.
The store also will introduce “Holiday Specs to elevate your festive look this season.” Prescription lenses can be used in specific types of Da Shade room glasses, and Bramlett works with optometrists on referrals to find the right prescription and fit, and she works with vision insurers as well. The store has two lines of glasses, the Ja Mae, named for Bramlett’s Mother, and the Timeless Collection. There are three different types of frames: Fashion eyewear for $80; Readers for $20 and Optic frames for $40-$68.
The Boxyard, 502 E. Third St., Unit #11
Vegan beauty products, makeup services and education
Owner Kim Roxie started LAMIK in Houston and learned about Tulsa through the entrepreneurship program Build In Tulsa. A participant in Popup Tulsa, Roxie has now brought her vegan makeup line made with natural and organic ingredients for multicultural women to a Tulsa storefront at The Boxyard. Starting in college, Roxie began a career as a makeup artist at a Houston mall but quickly realized the ingredients in makeup were toxic. She opened her own store selling handmade products. After her first investor, her mother, died of breast cancer, Roxie made it her mission to give women of color access to safe, natural beauty products. She had created paraben-free makeup and in 2018, closed her shop and focused on LAMIK. In March 2020, she launched LAMIK 2.0 as an E-commerce business to offer clean color cosmetics for women who historically have been marketed with more toxic makeup options.
LAMIK, which is the backwards spelling of Kim plus the two first letters of her middle name, now represents “Love And Makeup In Kindness.” LAMIK is featuring a customer favorite: Show Out Mascara which visibly volumizes the lashes using a lightweight formula including fibers that extend lashes without irritation.
624 S. Boston Ave., Suite 109
Unique gifts, including cupping sets, gua sha, herbs, eye pillows and supplements
Lotus Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is a Female, Native American, & LGBTQIA+ owned business bringing its healing and therapeutic services to downtown Tulsa. Acupuncture originated in ancient China and is one of the oldest, most commonly used forms of medicine in the world. Using various techniques, acupuncture is reported to have many benefits for pain reduction, stress and tension relief and may assist with fertility.
Lotus also offers fire cupping and silicone cupping for pain relief, improved circulation, respiratory and digestion. Lotus describes this as placing specialized cups on specific points of the body, then using suction to draw the skin up into the cups, resulting in better blood flow and a greater overall sense of health and well-being.
11 E. Reconciliation Way
Sourdough breads and starter kits
Sourdough Tulsa opened a store in the Tulsa Arts District to show that there really is more you can do with sourdough bread than make a boule. There are sourdough cinnamon buns, sourdough waffles, sourdough cornbread in addition to bread boules. If you have a hard time getting started with baking projects, owners Breanna and Lawrence MacAlpine even have a starter you can buy.
The new Popup offers walk-in fresh purchases off the shelf and in-store orders, and online orders with a few recipes to try. As far as this gift guide goes, any kind of bread makes a great present for people who are not gluten intolerant, so be sure you know if your giftee is good with bread. If all clear, orders of cinnamon buns for family breakfasts and a starter with a boule are good gift ideas. The lucky recipient then gets to enjoy bread right away and share the beginnings of a second batch with a recipe to make on their own.
624 S. Boston Ave., Suite 108
Fine home goods and gifts
Splendid Treasures offers a downtown stop for cozy blankets, pillows, candles, bath products, kitchen towels and aprons, holiday foods and drinks, books and children’s gifts.
Patsy Hoyle, owner of Splendid Treasures, said the Popup shop is based on the former Etsy store. The shop will be open and hosting events through January 15. Hoyle said her long-term goal is to have a permanent retail shop where online merchandise may also be picked up.
The gift guide features Gardiner’s Scottish fudge in two varieties. Hoyle said, “the tasty fudge comes in an amazing holiday tin that can be reused or re-gifted.”
427 S Boston Avenue
Locally designed clothing fashions, accessories and personal care
The founders of the Stylish Agency and Bounceless embarked on a new journey with 5th & Fab in 2022. The two have staying power. They’ve provided a downtown location for more than a year for not only for their own creations but also for other designers to have a place to show and sell their fashions. Lisa Jae is synonymous with fashion in Tulsa. She is a New York Fashion Week designer and celebrity Stylist to Karon Joseph Riley. She is dedicated to bringing more exposure to underrepresented fashion designers which is why 5th & Fab fit into her business plans. Jae She is behind many artists in Tulsa, and she has recently been selected to design the Tulsa Opera debutante gowns. Her partner Chantelle Lott has designed a sports bra that literally hugs the body and keeps the upper torso in place when going for a run or a hard workout. (See her story in The Oklahoma Eagle online here.)
5th & Fab is full of jewelry and clothing from various designers, so it’s a must see for local fashion aficionados. As for the gift guide – there are so many one of a kinds and for just a glimpse of the quality and beauty you can find, the guide features local designs from a September 2023 5th & Fab runway show held in the art deco lobby of the iconic Mid-Continent Tower.
427 S Boston Avenue
Organic teas, health and wellness
Tenesha Rush – aka Tea Rush – a soulful songstress is known through Tulsa as a musician and creator of the Annual Rush Fest, a musical festival held in several venues annually during the summer in Tulsa for six years.Rush is also the executive director of Travelin’ Little Tea Party (TLTP) a nonprofit striving to create an intimate platform for honest musical expression by local artists with an aim towards reparative health and wellness.
A few years ago, Tea spoke with passion and excitement about founding her new tea company – aptly named Mi Tea – that would help people find a better path to wellness. She was eager to have a storefront to add to online sales. It all came together when Mi Tea – Dedicated to Quali-Tea – was offered a location through Downtown Popup in 2022, for a place to try then buy the teas and a variety of drinks. Mi Tea features Organic Tea, Sea Moss from the region of Zanzibar Tanzania, Oils & other supplements that increase health and wellness. The lounge also serves as a gathering spot for local musicians, and R&B open mic. Of course, we feature Mi’ Tea teas of your choosing as gifts to give this holiday season.
Our pick for this holiday season from Mi’ Tea is Raspberry Sea Moss. It’s a newly discovered algae species that carries 92 minerals, enhances thyroid health, strengthens the heart, boosts the immune system, soothes the digestive tract, boosts metabolism, fights infections, increases mental and emotional wellness.
Here are a few other local Black-owned businesses to shop for the holidays.
Oklahoma Toffee Company, The Mother Road Market, 1124 S. Lewis Ave.
Oklahoma Toffee was founded in 2017 by the educational and marital partnership of Chelsea and Anthony Chelsea as a way to help teachers as budget cuts threatened classroom progress. Oklahoma Toffee dedicates profits to help teachers across the state with immediate school supply needs.
Toffee comes in several ways from the classic chocolate to dark chocolate pecan sea salt to macadamia nut, popcorn and pretzels. 20% of the profits from each bag sold go directly to helping teachers fund supplies that directly impact student learning.
Be good to teachers this year and surprise Santa with a plate of toffee!
21 North Greenwood Avenue
Should anyone perceive Fulton Street Books & Coffee’s recent grand opening, at 21 North Greenwood Avenue (next to Greenwood Rising), as merely a change of location to the historic district, that would completely miss the point of the event… A blame for the head, not the heart.
Onikah Asamoa-Caesar has embraced, throughout the last several years, the full spirit of entrepreneurship, realized by the success of Fulton Street Books & Coffee.
In Greenwood, Fulton accommodates patron demand with new operating hours, Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
A year-round host for local organizations, Fulton has thoughtfully provided a space for reading hours, book launches, spoken word events and private gatherings. The new Greenwood location will be a favored venue for creatives and audiences.
Dvinesweetz – tea bombs and custom created cookies, cakes and more..
When Tulsa poet, author and baker Ranesha Smith started posting her innovative and highly creative dessert creations on Facebook and Instagram, it was like she’d dropped a cake bomb on us. It was an explosion of colorful icings, unique designs, cheerful goodness and sheer joy. She added cake pops to fit every occasion from Mother’s Day to Thanksgiving turkey pops.
Then she expanded her dessert line to include Tea Bombs in a few special flavors, with the all-time favorite being the Honey Tea Bomb. Smith’s creations are online and can be ordered through the website, but for the best gallery of photos of her work be sure to check out Dvinesweetz Instagram and Facebook pages before ordering a custom design.
Highly-curated retail experience that brings limited and authentic sneakers and streetwear to Tulsa
Established in 2019 on historic Black Wall Street, Venita Cooper set out to look for Tulsa’s sneakerheads. Silhouette Sneakers & Art is a highly curated retail experience that brings limited and authentic sneakers and streetwear to Tulsa. The boutique features an art gallery showcasing a rotating selection of street-inspired art and programming that links sneaker culture enthusiasts and cultivates a new generation of sneakerheads. Cooper has been a sneakerhead since middle school when she persuaded her parents to pay $120 retail for a pair of Nike Air Swoopes II in the black and royal colorway.
For the holiday gift guide, we are featuring the Silhouette staff pick for the gift guide: Jordan 4 Retro SB Pine Green.
Emily Scott, Director of Planning & Vitality at Downtown Tulsa Partnership said, “Pop-Up Downtown was designed to increase the amount of retail offerings Downtown for holiday shopping while amplifying the work of local minority small businesses and entrepreneurs.”
The Commemoration Fund provided funding to DTP for microgrants to all participants and has contracted with a project team led by local minority-owned firm Zakerion Strategies to provide expert guidance in the following categories:
- Business consultation to help participants refine their business operations and maximize their potential for success.
- Store staging consultation to assist participants in designing their store layouts and visual merchandising and creating an immersive shopping experience.
- Marketing consultation to help participants develop marketing strategies, including online and offline approaches, that will help participants reach a wider audience and drive sales.
DTP recognized Downtown property owners for their assistance and Supporters of Pop-Up Downtown which also includes 36 Degrees North, PartnerTulsa and TEDC Creative Capital, whose representatives selected program participants from among 18 applications; and the following businesses, whose owners will serve as mentors to Pop-Up Downtown entrepreneurs: Elote Café & Catering, Foolish Things Coffee Co., Mi Tea Lounge, Rabbit Hole Bar, Bounceless and Bite Way.
“It has been wonderful to see the Tulsa business community embrace Pop-Up Downtown, and we look forward to seeing how participants will activate Downtown with increased foot traffic and diversity of shopping experiences,” says Brian Kurtz, President & CEO of Downtown Tulsa Partnership. “We congratulate our newest group of Pop-Up Downtown entrepreneurs and thank each of them for believing in our neighborhood.”
More details about Pop-Up Downtown can be found at DowntownTulsa.com/PopUpDowntown.