Golden market's Black-owned businesses share stories of family, entrepreneurship ahead of Juneteenth

Corinne Westeman
cwesteman@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 6/13/22

Growing up in Texas, Karen Piggins recalled how Juneteenth was a huge celebration that everyone turned out for.

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Golden market's Black-owned businesses share stories of family, entrepreneurship ahead of Juneteenth

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When Karen Piggins was growing up in Texas, Juneteenth was a huge celebration that everyone turned out for, she recalled.

Piggins, who lives in Greenwood Village, still celebrates the holiday. She said, for her, it’s a reminder to stay informed on what’s going on around her and to hold herself accountable.

Juneteenth commemorates the freeing of enslaved people in Texas — the last state with institutional slavery — on June 19, 1865. The day, officially called Juneteenth National Independence Day, became a federal and Colorado state holiday last year.

“I wish it would’ve happened sooner, but I’m glad it happened,” Morrison’s Daina Daniels said of Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday.

Lakewood’s Colin Gbolie was also excited to see the day gain more national prominence and see more people learning about it.

“Black history is American history,” he said. “It doesn’t fix the long-term, systemic problems, but it’s a step in the right direction. … It’s more time for communication, education, and conversation.”

Ahead of Juneteenth, many organizations encourage Americans to support their local, Black-owned businesses. As of the 2020 census, there are approximately 124,500 Black-owned businesses in the United States that contribute $128 billion to the economy.

Of those working in and around Golden, the list includes but isn’t limited to:

Ahead of Juneteenth, three business owners at the June 11 Golden Farmers Market — Gbolie, Daniels and Piggins — shared the stories behind their businesses.

“Supporting Black-owned businesses is supporting everyone,” Gbolie said. “ … It’s making good on the promise of the American melting pot.”

Diamond Doughnuts

Colin Gbolie grew up eating his mom’s spiced donuts around Christmastime, and he always wanted to learn how to make them himself.

So, during the pandemic, he gave it a try. After lots of failed batches, he finally got it down.

Gbolie has a background in psychology, communications and running music venues, “so there was definitely a learning curve,” he said. He started canvassing area farmers markets last summer, and his friends gave him advice on how to become a vendor.

This summer, he joined the Golden and Evergreen farmers markets, selling the crunchy and sweet-textured spiced donuts and the even sweeter chin chin. His mom is from Sierra Leone, where both treats are very common, he described.

While he’d like to expand his selection eventually, Gbolie really hopes another culinary revolution makes African cuisines more popular in the United States.

“I feel like African cuisine has been left out of the conversation,” he said.

Overall, though, Gbolie sees Diamond Doughnuts as a way to share his family’s culture and meet new people.

“Food connects us all,” he said.

Adventurist Soap Co.

Daina Daniels recalled growing up with a skin condition and how her mom would sometimes drive across state lines to find natural products that wouldn’t irritate her skin.

Plus, she has a great love of the outdoors and did trail restoration and maintenance for the Rocky Mountain Conservancy.

So, when Daniels started Adventurist Soap Co. in winter 2020, she ensured her products were organic, palm-free, vegan and biodegradable. That way, they were good for the environment and anyone’s skin.

She said her fiancé describes it as putting herself “inside every bar of soap.”

Adventurist Soap Co. offers bar and liquid soaps, beard oil and bear balm, bath salts, body butter, lotions, insect repellent and more. Everything has an outdoorsy flair, such as the soaps’ names, Daniels described.

Her products are available in some brick-and-mortar store, such as Idaho Springs’ Feral shop, and online. She’s also working 55-60 events this summer, including the Golden Farmers Market. Adventurist Soap Co. will be in Golden about every other week this season, Daniels said, adding that she’ll also be appearing at the Longmont and Boulder markets.

Already, she’s had a lot of repeat customers, saying, “It keeps me motivated.”

As an outdoor enthusiast, Daniels tries to promote nonprofits that support people of color accessing the outdoors, such as Outdoor Afro.

Moreover, Daniels encouraged people to “support a business that you resonate with, and you share their ethics.” She clarified that means any company, not just Black-owned businesses.

Ti-a Woven Goods and Body Harmony boutique

When Karen Piggins’ sister was in the Peace Corps, she started working with a women’s cooperative in Ghana to “develop a business that was beneficial on both sides.”

That turned into Ti-a Woven Goods, which has been selling handmade baskets and other products at the Golden Farmers Market and others across Denver. After her sister started the business, Piggins, her children, and other family members got involved.

At her and her son’s Ti-a Woven Goods stand at the Golden Farmers Market, Piggins explained how they sell other handmade African products from her company, Body Harmony Online Boutique. With that company, she works with other African artisans to sell their dresses, jewelry and more in the United States.

At the Body Harmony Online Boutique, Piggins also offers wrap-skirts, which always sell out before the farmers market season starts.

Piggins described how she’s learned a lot from the artisans and communities she and her family work with, saying their culture emphasizes recycling. She pointed out bracelets made from recycled Coke bottles and baskets made from grasses and vegetable dyes.

Entrepreneurship is something her parents stressed when raising her and her sister, recalling how they’d often tell her: find something to do with your hands, and you’ll never be hungry.

“I was born into that way of thinking,” Piggins continued, saying it’s something she’s passed onto her children in turn. Now, her children are running their own businesses as well.

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