CINCINNATI – With her hair oils and creams lining the shelves and her register stationed right at the window, Ciera Carey-Dennis was eager to greet her first Black Friday customers in her first brick-and-mortar shop.
While only there for the weekend and sharing the space, Carey-Dennis saw her stint as an inaugural tenant at the new Brick Pop-Up Shop in Cincinnati’s Pendelton neighborhood as an opportunity to get her business off the ground and get a taste of her ultimate dream of running a full-time shop.
MORTAR is a business development nonprofit founded in Cincinnati to help train budding entrepreneurs to build and establish small businesses.
Once students graduate from its entrepreneurship academy, Mortar said it wants to provide a place for its alumni to build their businesses. Eight years ago, it opened its first Brick Pop-Up Shop, offering those small businesses temporary downtown space for reduced rent and a sense of what it’s like to run a brick-and-mortar store.
“It’s really nice to be able to see people come in and interact with them and just get to know people on a personal level and answer questions they may have,” Carey-Dennis said.
After graduating from Mortar’s 2021 academy, Carey-Dennis launched London’s Hair Food, a series of home-crafted products for men and women like her struggling to find what they need to keep their relaxed hair healthy and stylish.
“I struggled with embracing my natural textured hair all throughout my childhood,” she said. “So I created London’s Hair Food for the purpose of embracing the beauty of textured hair.”
Carey-Dennis has been running the store online and developed a small following, but she said she jumped at the chance to apply for the Brick Pop-Up Shop to try and get her product out in front of a new crowd of people.
“Just the opportunity and the exposure is really amazing,” she said.
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