I have LOTS of great memories growing up. My childhood was a pretty good one I can say. I grew up in two different sections of Baton Rouge, but one of them made more of an impact on who I truly am. I grew up in a small section in Baton Rouge called Scotlandville. I remember growing up with all sorts of people around. I saw entrepreneurship at a very early age. I always aspired to own my own business. I was a very good dancer. I thought I would always open up a dance studio; although I was told that dance teachers don’t make a living wage.
There was a little bit of everything to see. There was a man who owned a fruit truck that would roll by in the morning time selling fruits. I loved getting the plums. Those were my favorite. I saw ice cream man who came in the afternoon selling ice cream. I always wanted the ice cream with the bubble gum eyes. Also, who we called the “candy lady”. She sold just about every candy product, but the real treat to all of us children, were the “dixie cups”. Dixie cups are just frozen cups of kool aid. You would pop it out of the plastic cup, flip it over, and eat it. Now, it is called different things from town to town, but here in Baton Rouge we call it Dixie Cups. Why? Because the brand of cups that we actually ate it out of is called Dixie.
There were so many examples around of entrepreneurship, although none of them were full time. I don’t think our community was truly educated on how to start and maintain a full time business of their own. You saw “side hustles” majority of the time. Also, knowledge of funding, although in the city, was not available to our community. This lead me to want to believe that we, as African-Americans could not start and maintain our own businesses as a majority. You saw the Asians with their hair stores. You saw Caucasians with every type of business you can think about, whether the bought it or started it.
There were some that were exceptions to what I just mentioned. There was this record shop called Bowies Record Shop. We loved to go there. I love music. In my opinion, music provides you a good escape from reality for a minute. We were allowed to get a cassette tape (Yeah. Those were around when I was a child) when we did good in school as a reward. Going into that shop was inspiring. The owner was friendly and there was always good service. I felt like if they could do it. So can I.
Developing and working in your gifts can open up doors for others who are watching you. You may not recognize them, but someone else is always looking for inspiration for their situation…and you just maybe it. I learned a lot of lessons even as a child that I still use today. That’s why it absolutely broke my heart to see that this store has closed. Even with that store being closed as wells as other businesses that once were African-American owned, I still have faith that it can be done. And it can.