Thread of Life
What: e-tailer of ethnic-themed home furnishings
Who: Yuwanda Black of EthnicHomeDecor.com
Where: Riverdale, Georgia
When: May 2002
Yuwanda Black lived within miles of the World Trade Center when it was attacked. She could smell the smoke, see the ashes and feel the effects when the economy and her editorial staffing business went into a slump. With extra time on her hands, she visited an African fabric store, picked up a needle and thread, and applied the sewing skills she had learned as a child. She created a quilt for her bedroom that was alive with color, culture and style--a quilt that was wonderfully ethnic and impossible to find in any store.
Black's hobby brought about unexpected results. Not only did friends admire her work, convincing her to launch EthnicHomeDecor.com as a way to showcase her ethnic items and make extra money, but her new project also helped her cope with the recent crisis. "Having something else to focus on outside of myself really helped me emotionally," she says.
Black hasn't stopped sewing since. Her creations include mud-cloth throws, pillowcases and chair jackets, and she constantly jots down new ideas on a "dream pad" by her bed.
Word spread, resulting in a number of other projects, including EthnicVendors.com, a site where independent ethnic vendors can advertise their merchandise; an annual catalog; and a magazine scheduled to debut this spring. Sales for 2005 are projected to reach at least $150,000, and Black, 39, has put her staffing business up for sale. "Being African-American, I like things that reflect my culture or my heritage," says Black. "It's my mission to do the small part I can to bring these products to people who can appreciate them."