During what many see as an economic crisis, local Denver organizer
Deborah Fard is working hard to bring financial relief to the Five Points community
by hosting the annual Ujamaa Market
which unites local business owners, craft makers and artists with community
members from across the state of Colorado.
“This event has become a cornerstone during the holiday
season. And while we offer great
products, the event is not just about shopping. The Ujamaa Market brings community members together during a time of
year that can be difficult for some. Participants share their collective journey,
their work and encourage each other to reach high. Local, small and mid-size business owners sell
their wares and at the same time cultivate prosperity in communities of color,”
Says Fard, one of the event’s founders.
Based in the Kwanzaa principle, “Ujamaa,” or “Cooperative
Economics,” which centers on families and community members sharing the
responsibility for economic solvency, the Ujamaa Market not only serves as a fabulous,
one-stop holiday shopping venue, the event is host to some of Denver’s premiere
performing artists, wellness educators, local poets and authors. Everything from African drumming to massage
therapy and foot soaks are among the offerings at the Ujamaa Market.
Over the years many businesses were launched as a result
of the encouragement and support found at the Ujamaa Market. A few of the successful entities that were
Cards, Tye Dye Princess Products and Nanina Ra Healing Arts.
This year’s event will feature 20 A-list vendors selling
a variety of personally crafted items including jewelry, specialty foods,
culturally centered clothing and memorabilia, original art and photography,
handmade dolls, afro-centric holiday decorations and some of the best wellness
and beauty products in the country. A
full spectrum of Kwanzaa supplies will also be on hand.
Nanina Ra Healing
Arts and EINA—Elements in Natural
Alignment, are among the vendors selected to exhibit at this year’s
gathering. Both businesses are founded,
managed and owned by women of color. EINA carries an amazing array of bath desserts that are stocked full of
natural body butters that help soothe the dry skin that Coloradoans are prone
to have. Nanina Ra makes detoxification
and moisturizing products that have been reviewed in top magazines across the
“I was at one of the very first Ujamaa Markets. It was held at Brother Jeff’s Cultural
Center. Years later, a sister named Nanana brought me
the empty first jar of shea butter I ever sold and asked for more. That meant so much—it encouraged me to forge
forward. Five years later my business is
going strong,” says Nanina, owner.
Younger businesses in their first years echo the
statements of Nanina as it relates to the importance of supporting local
holiday events like the Ujamaa Market.
“Community events like these are the platform upon which
EINA was founded. We’ll be in the big
name stores one day but there is nothing like bringing your God-given creations
to the community and hearing how the products made a difference in someone’s
life. Just being there is great
encouragement,” says Kiev Camden, co-owner of EINA.
Ujamaa Market also serves as a kick off for Denver’s
annual, week-long Kwanzaa celebration.
“African-Americans are among the top consumers in the
world. However, the Black dollar barely comes back to our community one time.
By supporting events like the Ujamaa Market we can begin to change that. That
was part of the dream that Dr. Karenga had when he visualized the principles of
Kwanzaa. And Ujamaa is one of the most
important principles of all,” says Fard.
will be held Saturday, Dec. 13 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 14 from noon
to 5 p.m. at the Tubman Hilliard Global Academy, 2741 Welton St. in Denver. For
more information or to apply to be a vendor, e-mail email@example.com.