Black Business is celebrated year round and there are a number of Black businesses in the Finger Lakes that are thriving. What's unique about these businesses is that they're all based in Auburn, New York.This is where Harriet Tubman owned property, lived for over 50 years, and is laid to rest.
Next year, Harriet Tubman, the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad, turns 200 years old. Here are examples of entrepreneurs who are carrying on her life and legacy in the Finger Lakes Region of New York.
Bar, restaurant and lounge, Lavish Lounge is a relaxing & charming venue serving delicious authentic Jamaican & American cuisine in a contemporary setting. See their full menu here. On any given night you can find exhilarating entertainment by local DJs and live bands. They host periodic themed nights, and have food & drink specials weekly. Events can be found here.
Fran and Nick Daloia are the co-founders of FEAST Kitchen. It is a minority and women-owned food manufacturer. As a chef-driven and sustainably focused food business, Feast Kitchen sources all ingredients for their nutritious plant-based frozen purees and cuts from local farmers and distributors.
The company stated “We will look to reduce food waste and to incorporate green, energy efficient practices and equipment into our production processes and facility. Additionally, Feast Kitchen will endeavor to support our local economy through long-term job creation and youth-oriented job opportunities, including part-time jobs and internships for local students.”
Brian Muldrow is the owner of a multifaceted business called The Muldrow Group (TMG) and founder of the Minority Professional Association. He is the first Black person to purchase a building on Main Street in the heart of downtown Auburn. There, he owns Cayuga Drug & Alcohol Testing, which offers collections for Dept. of Transportation (DOT) and non-DOT businesses to help keep the workplace drug-free. On the horizon is a sports complex for the town of Auburn. He is also seeking office for Cayuga County Legislator for Auburn's District 15. He is just the second Black person in Cayuga County's history to run for office.
Reaching for Higher Ground Consulting is a communication, performance, and development company. The company’s founder, Sean McLeod, offers workplace training called Moving Past Racism. It is known that many Black people deal with microaggressions, implicit bias, and hostile work environments daily. Sean’s training helps facilitate conversations that are often uncomfortable and one's that executives shy away from. His goal is to help employees gain healing, tangible tools, and future steps to move past the stigmas of racism. He does so by teaching lessons of behavior delivery, communication, conflict resolution, leadership principles and successful team habits.
Melody Smith Johnson started Divine Coverings in 2016 as a home based business with the goal of offering uniquely beautiful products made from quality materials. The name “Divine Coverings” was inspired by Melody’s appreciation of how God has faithfully and divinely covered her throughout life and in situations that could have taken her off track. She offers a wide selection of accessories, gifts, home office decor, drinkware, baby items, face masks, eyewear and sunglasses.
Oxtail, jerk chicken, curry chicken, rice and peas, fried cabbage and homemade fruit punch are all available at Irie Jamaican Queen. Patrice Henry is bringing the island flavors to Auburn through this restaurant. During the holidays she makes a Jamaican Pineapple Upside Down Rum Cake and Jamaican Christmas Rum Cake.This restaurateur is also the owner of a food truck that is mobile and can be seen all around town during the warmer months.
Lessie Villalba recently graduated from The Cayuga Economic Development Agency's Microenterprise Program. She is a young entrepreneur with a vibrant spirit. She sells apparel, is a blogger and has recently started a mentoring and leadership program for students. The program offers one on one mentoring, resource referrals, academic support, field trips and outings. This is a passion project of hers and she is dedicated to helping young people achieve success.
Gwen Webber- McLeod, former Executive Director of the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, spent 30 years in various leadership positions. Over time, she noticed a pattern among emerging and established leaders who quietly floundered while attempting to achieve business goals. She sought out to change the direction of their futures and founded Gwen, Inc., a company that provides leadership development, professional consulting and facilitation, mentoring/coaching, and technical assistance for businesses of all sizes.
Gwen is also the founder of You Can’t Fail Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides strategically designed multicultural leadership development for emerging and established women leaders.