By RayJaun Stelly
It’s Never 2 Early 2 Create & Innovate Plaza, a marketplace for young Black businesses and community building, recently opened its doors to the public. The plaza, which houses 14 businesses owned by Black people between the ages of 4 and 24, is not only a place to showcase young Black talent but is also a place to support entrepreneurship and business development.
Olu Dixon, founder and CEO of Olu Productions and It’s Never 2 Early 2 Create & Innovate, established the plaza with a vision that every Black youth with an entrepreneurial spirit will have their own business by the time they’re 18 years old. Dixon, who is 18 and started his business when he was 10, believes that seeking, promoting, and investing time and resources into young Black entrepreneurs will benefit the community.
According to Dixon, it was his mother, Mayet Dalila, who helped his dream of establishing a business hub for young entrepreneurs become a reality.
“The whole idea of having a marketplace to bring people together was really my mother’s doing,” says Dixon. “She helped with finding grants and connecting everybody, especially since she’s in Seattle and I am currently in New York. For the most part, we just wanted to find a way to bring Black people together to create their own businesses and become their own bosses.”
“[Growing up] I wanted to be my own boss,” added Dixon. “[I] have my own product and business that I own, and I wanted other people to feel like they could do it just like I do.”
Dixon says that the goals of the organization are to put into action the principle of Ujamaa and cooperative economics, inspire and support young Black entrepreneurship and business development, leverage resources for the purpose of learning about economic empowerment and financial autonomy, and most importantly, to showcase young Black excellence.
“Introducing young people to entrepreneurship in their own community positively influences an individual’s own likelihood to pursue it. It’s Never 2 Early 2 Create & Innovate brings people together and promotes confidence and hope,” said Dixon. “After our experience with Covid, police shootings, and other economic challenges, our community could really use a space where we can celebrate young Black people and work toward a much better, healthier, and prosperous future.”
For the young entrepreneurs with businesses on the site, the plaza is much more than a marketplace; it is also a place where they can conduct all aspects of their business as it features a boardroom and a reception area. The boardroom seats 16 people, has zoom hybrid ability, a big screen television, a whiteboard and markers, an easel pad, and markers. The reception area can comfortably seat up to 30 people, has Wi-Fi, and access to food and drink resources (microwave, refrigerator, small burner electric cooktops).
Dixon says that he hopes the plaza, which opened earlier this month, continues to grow and benefit the entrepreneurs with their business. “We want [this] to be something that people continue to come back to and buy more,” says Dixon. “We want new customers, returning customers, we want all of that, we want it to be another store that’s run by Black people. Where I see us evolving in the future is having more of these stores opened.”
It’s Never 2 Early 2 Create & Innovate Plaza is located at 1925 3rd Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101. For more information, you can visit their website at www.itsnever2early.store.