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Behind the Sign: Get to Know Downtown Raleigh Business Owners

Get to know some of the remarkable business owners that contribute to downtown’s vibrant and diverse community every day. For this Q&A, we focused on the perspectives of 6 Black-owned businesses representing Downtown Raleigh’s restaurant, retail, art, and service industries.


DRA: If you had a theme song that tells people who you are, what would it be?

UBPS: My theme song would be by Keni Burke - Risin’ To THE TOP……Because no matter the obstacles I go through, I never give up and over time I keep rising to the top of my Goals.

FH: "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong. Just like the lyrics of the song, our restaurant is all about embracing the beauty of life's simple pleasures and celebrating the joy of connection over a delicious meal. With its soulful melody and uplifting message, this song perfectly embodies the warmth, charm, and good character that define us at Flavor Hills.

UV: Didn't Cha Know - Erykah Badu for the vibes not lyrics, or This is How We Do It by Montell Jordan  

RPS: Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys

311: Honestly, I love music too much for one answer. But I’ve played Never Too Much by Luther Vandross a few times today.

SCM: Higher Love by Steve Winwood


DRA: What inspired you to start your business, and how has that initial spark evolved over time?

UBPS: My son JeJuan inspired me to start my Paint n Sip business.. It was something I did for years as a hobby since a child…I LOVE TO DRAW! This month has been 1 year since I opened my first brick and mortar business.  It’s continuing to grow and I just love the new people I get to meet.

FH: Flavor Hills was inspired by a desire to challenge the corporate mindset that prioritized profit over quality and service. We envisioned a dining experience that went beyond limited options and lackluster service, instead focusing on cooking from scratch and creating a scalable model for the dining scene. Our goal was to foster connections and deep human interactions through delicious food in a welcoming environment. Over time, this initial inspiration has evolved into a pursuit of national recognition. We witnessed the positive impact of our restaurant in Jacksonville, NC, where we not only created jobs but also provided opportunities for personal and professional growth through leadership courses and support for creatives. Seeing the transformative effects of our work motivated us to expand our concept to other locations, with the ultimate goal of establishing a corporate powerhouse led by people of color. This vision is unprecedented in an industry where such representation is rare, and we aim to break barriers and redefine success in the restaurant industry.

UV: Initially my woman's brand She Thrifty Apparel came to fruition from being extremely unsatisfied in the workplace post college. I knew that there had to be something more fulfilling out there, I just didn't know what and then a friend asked me a question that changed my life. "If you could quit your job today what would you do tomorrow?" My answer was I would get on a train, stop randomly and find the nearest thrift store in that area; the rest is now history in the making. That then led to the collaboration of Sir Chances and She Thrifty Apparel, where we opened a store front downtown Raleigh.

RPS: We wanted to create a space where technology was not an obstacle for content creators. We inspire to be a downtown Raleigh staple that has the reputation of helping local businesses and content creators bring their ideas to life. Since opening our doors in July 2023 we have met so many amazingly talented locals and are grateful for the opportunity to be a part of their journey.

311: The opportunity to become owner of the gallery presented itself at the beginning of the pandemic and I couldn’t pass it up. There have definitely been ups and downs but the First Friday community inspires me to keep going.

SCM: My first business was started out of a desire to create healthy personal care options for my family. My most recent venture The Self Care Marketplace was borne out of a desire to provide a one stop shop for all things self care as well and to provide access to premium retail space for artisan brands through the benefit of co-retailing, This space rapidly evolving into a place to experience all manner of aligned activities, classes and even musical performances


DRA: In a world of constant change, how do you stay ahead of the curve and continue to innovate within your industry?

UBPS: To stay heard of the curve I am CONSTANTLY learning whether it’s on social media or taking a class.

FH: Our commitment to systematization and optimization allows us to refine our processes and maintain a competitive edge. Embracing technology is key to our success, and we invest in cutting-edge tools. Our employees are equipped with the Cyborg Mentality, a philosophy that emphasizes the fusion of human ingenuity with the power of technology. This mindset ensures that every aspect of our operations is finely tuned and optimized for success, enhancing our productivity and overall quality of life.

UV: We always stick to the foundation and even with change that never fails us, we don't cater to apparel trends or try to fit into the now. We continue to build the brand on individuality and circularity which allows us to evolve naturally. As far as innovation, we study people + systems, everyday people and pay attention to how they are elevating outfits in their way/ what they need. Individuals tell such interesting stories with how they choose to get dressed/ what could be easier, and if you pay attention to that then you can continue to be inspired to create/ problem solve.

RPS: Listen to our customers and review the latest trends.

311: The artists I work with lead the way but at the root of it all is a commitment to authenticity.

SCM: I'm a Scorpio so transformation and rebirth are part of my makeup - I incorporate that evolutionary spirit into everything I do. I tend to focus my efforts on observing and tapping directly into the needs of the people I serve rather than what the algorithm is dictating to us. I have found there to be a stark difference in the perfectly crafted IG quotes, artfully placed objects and what people actually need. Providing real value IS innovative, revolutionary even in a landscape of smoke and mirrors. While it's necessary to play within the algorithm, we endeavor to also create a refreshing environment and to deliver products and experiences that support the needs of our customers in their daily lives. "Come through, you'll feel the love here."


DRA: What’s your favorite place(s) to shop, eat, or hangout in downtown?

UBPS: My favorite places to eat downtown are Bad Daddy’s & The Pit.

FH: We love spending time at the Good Trip Art Gallery in downtown Raleigh. This creative hub, run by the talented artist Christopher Evans, is a source of inspiration for us. From the moment we took over the building, we knew we had found a special place. Christopher's artwork adorns our space, adding a unique charm and creative energy to our environment. Good Trip Art Gallery embodies the creative spirit that we hold dear at Flavor Hills.

UV: Shopping - Pop up Shops, Self care Marketplace, Gathering Gallery, & Father and Sons | Drink/Eat - The Green Monkey, The Big Easy, Tonbo Ramen, & Pizza Times

RPS: Dank Burrito in Transfer Food Hall

311: Budacai, The Self Care Marketplace, Munjo Munjo, The Kupkake Fairy

SCM: The Self Care Marketplace to shop and hang out of course! To eat, my favorite right now is Happy & Hale the Hale Caesar with Buffalo Cauliflower.


DRA: Can you share a memorable success story or moment when your business made a significant impact on a customer's life or the community?

UBPS: My most current memory of me making a significant impact was during one of my painting sessions for a group of ladies on a girls night out.. During the session they mentioned that they were so relaxed and were enjoying themselves that they didn’t want to leave. One of the ladies left a google review that stated, “OMG!  Best Girl outing ever. Walked in with a heavy heart… leaving with the weight of the world lifted.”………… from that point on I knew that I had conquered exactly just that… having a space where my customers can leave their problems at the door and enjoy themselves.

FH: Last year, Flavor Hills had the opportunity to sponsor a family for Christmas, which turned into a deeply memorable and impactful experience. The mother of the family was facing challenges and unable to provide her children with the Christmas they deserved.

Moved by their situation, we decided to step in and adopt the family, ensuring that their Christmas day was nothing short of special.

UV: As our story circulates we get many young people that come to us and want to know how they can become an entrepreneur/ what it takes. I find myself weekly having in store motivational business discussions and pouring back into the youth/community. That's a space that's close to my heart and each person has left with more information and will to try to build their passions!

RPS: We sponsored a toy drive initiative for a local downtown Raleigh non-profit.

311: An unhoused person recently told me that they rely on the clock in the window and that the battery had been dead for some time. I cried for a while after that interaction. It’s easy to take things like that for granted. But I’m glad that I’ve created a space where everyone feels welcome to enjoy the art.

SCM: We are new to Raleigh with just 3 months in business, we are currently working in partnership with Wake Tech's Entrepreneurial Department. We carry products from an entrepreneur who graduated the Launch Program in order to help them gain retail sales experience. Additionally we are collaborating with a team of five Wake Tech Marketing Students to create facade signage and designs that they can use as real life examples for their portfolio. My first business The Bath Place, LLC has worked with many organizations throughout Eastern NC and beyond since 2009 and has recently started a fundraising program to help businesses, organizations, schools, athletic teams and families raise funds.