15 Bay Area Black Women Owned Businesses to Celebrate

Selina Knowles, Communications Coordinator
March 24, 2023

Jameelah Lane holding juice at Melan-Aid's stand at POP, 2022
Jameelah Lane, owner of Melan-Aid.

Tomorrow, March 25, celebrate Women’s History Month with a day of delicious food, community, and family fun at Pop-Ups on the Plaza: Celebrating Black Women Makers. This is the first in a series of 2023 Pop-Ups on the Plaza events, taking place at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and Ferry Terminal Plaza and featuring participants in Foodwise’s Building Equity Program.

Meet the talented Black women chefs and artisans who are paying homage to their Bay Area roots while bringing their own twists to traditions and recipes passed down from the women in their families. Be sure to come out and support them at Pop-Ups on the Plaza.

Tina Stevens, A Girl Named Pinky

When her local bakery suddenly closed up shop, San Francisco native Tina Stevens (pictured above, center) took on the task of making her own wedding cake. After guests raved about the three-tiered carrot chocolate cake, Tina joined La Cocina’s business incubator program, and A Girl Named Pinky, her elegant cake boutique, was born. Don’t miss: cupcakes, cake pops, and tarts

Nicole Thrower, Bismillah Boutique

In 2010, Nicole M. Thrower founded Bismillah Boutique, a Bay Area based candle and skincare brand. Each offering is handmade with the intention of bringing a sense of beauty, peace, and relaxation to the spirit. Don’t miss: Handmade soy and crystal candles and beauty products

Tiffany Carter, Boug Cali

At the La Cocina Municipal Marketplace, Chef Tiffany Carter, a San Francisco native, offers specialties, like gumbo, smoked sausage, po-boys, and jerk tacos—interpretations on the dishes she grew up eating with her family and friends in her Bayview neighborhood. She is also a co-founder of SF Black Wallstreet, which is committed to preserving African American culture and building economic power within the Black community. Don’t miss: Tomorrow at the Foodwise Classroom at 11:30, Chef Tiffany Carter will share her recipe for mushroom po-boys. Stop by for the cooking demo, and pick up a recipe and samples.

Sarah Germany, Chef Sarah Germany

In 2021, Chef Sarah Germany was facing health difficulties when she teamed up with a farmer and friend named Matthew Linzner. Matthew started dropping off produce to Sarah, and challenged her to create something with it. As Sarah healed from sickness, she fell in love with cooking. She joined Mandela Partners’ business development program and now shares her delicious sauces, jams, pickles, and more. Don’t miss: Hot sauces and smoked catfish filets 

Kim Leonard, En Vie Naturals owner, at Pop-Ups on the Plaza, 2022

Kim Leonard, En Vie Naturals

Before starting En Vie Naturals in 2009, Kim Leonard worked in the cosmetics industry for 16 years. Put off by the amount of animal products and harmful chemicals she saw on ingredient labels, she was motivated to start her own business focusing on natural, vegan beauty products. She joined the Mission Community Market when it opened in 2010 and has participated ever since. Don’t miss: Body butter and pain relief cream

Imani M-Glover, The Lemonade Bar

Imani M-Glover has had an entrepreneurial spirit from a young age, when she sold popcorn balls to fundraise for high school extracurricular activities that weren’t in her single mom’s budget. After Imani got married, she and her husband invested in a hot dog cart, where Imani also started selling fresh squeezed lemonade. In 2018, she went all in with The Lemonade Bar, which sources local ingredients to offer freshly squeezed and frozen lemonade. Don’t miss: Lavender lemonade and strawberry frozen lemonade. Also, Chef Imani M-Glover will appear at the Foodwise Classroom at 10:30 am for a cooking demo, including recipes and samples.

Alisha Wilson smiling and holding food at Lil' Alijo's booth at FPFM, 2023

Alisha Wilson, Lil’ Alijo Catering & Events

Born and raised in San Francisco, Alisha “Lil’ Alijo” Wilson has always had a passion for art, design, and food, having learned to cook from her Mother Lois and Aunt Marie. After graduating art school, Alisha honed her design, marketing, and culinary skills to build her business, with the support of En2Action’s Ujamaa Kitchen program. Lil Alijo specializes in Caribbean, Cajun, and Creole Cuisine. Don’t miss: Crab and shrimp lumpia and jambalaya balls

Loren Johnson, LoJo’s Taco Shop

After working in restaurants for more than a decade, Loren Johnson was dreaming of starting her own food business when she was offered a pop-up at Avedano’s Meats in San Francisco in 2020. This kicked off LoJo’s Taco Shop, which Loren grew with coaching from Mandela Partners. Loren takes pride in using locally sourced ingredients and minimizing waste. Don’t miss: Meat, veggie, and special seasonal breakfast tacos

Tha Mf'n Vegan at Pop-Ups on the Plaza, 2022

Bria Hutson, Tha Mf’n Vegan 

Born and raised in Deep East Oakland, a community that faces food apartheid, Bria Hutson had a complicated relationship with food while growing up. When she became a parent, she desired a healthier relationship with food for her children. In 2017, Bria transitioned to a plant-based lifestyle, and, frustrated by the lack of options to help with the transition, she worked with Mandela Partners to develop her own plant-based foods and business, Tha MF’n Vegan. Don’t miss: Sideshow sliders, hella hyphy nachos, and tamales

Jameelah Lane, Melan-Aid

Another Mandela Partners participant, Jameelah Lane founded Melan-Aid in 2016 as she was transitioning to a plant-based diet. Knowing that Black and Brown families are at higher risk for nutrition-related chronic health issues, Jameelah wanted to introduce healthier drink options to her community. After years of studying healing stones, alkaline plants, and natural herbs, Jameelah combined the three to make healthy, refreshing juices. Don’t miss: Immunity shots and seasonal organic juices

Fernay McPherson, Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement

Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement was named after Fernay McPherson’s grandmother (Lillie Bell) and great-aunt (Minnie), the women whose tables her family gathered at. Fernay grew up in San Francisco’s Fillmore District, populated by immigrants and African Americans who left the Deep South during the Great Migration. In 2011, she joined La Cocina and grew Minnie Bell’s from there, using traditional family recipes to share Southern flavors. Don’t miss: Dry cornbread mix, and sweet and savory spice blends

Mo’Raysha Pouoa, Mo’Raysha’s

Mo’Raysha Pouoa grew up eating her mother’s Southern-style cooking. In 2019, she turned her love for food into a catering business, initially selling food in her local community. She continues to grow her business with the support of SF Black Wallstreet. Mo’Raysha also gives back to her community by serving free meals to youth. Don’t miss: Mac and cheese and garlic noodles

Christina Wilson, The Pleasure Principle Supperclub & Dining Events

With over five years of culinary experience, Christina Wilson started The Pleasure Principle Supperclub, a party-food-and-drink-loving catering business. Living and working around Oakland, Christina is inspired by the Bay Area’s abundance of fresh produce. She incorporates this into her unique offerings of her seasonally focused menus. Don’t miss: Seasonal Caribbean snacks and savory pastries

Vanessa Lee, Smoke Soul Kitchen

After catering a family member’s funeral service, Vanessa “Vee” Lee took the leap to turn her passion for cooking into a business. She participated in several entrepreneurship and cooking programs and worked with SF Black Wallstreet to launch Smoke Soul Kitchen, an authentic Soul Fusion catering company. Don’t miss: Soul Fusion ribs and Cajun pasta

Angélica Mena, Sukulenta SF

Chef Angélica Mena grew her business in the Bay Area, with help from SF Black Wallstreet. Through Sukulenta SF, she shares tastes of Afro-Colombian cuisine at community events and pop-ups. Don’t miss: Empanadas and Colombian BBQ plate

Join us this Saturday, March 25, for Pop-Ups on the Plaza, the first in a series of four events featuring Black-owned businesses in Foodwise’s Building Equity Program. Pop-Ups on the Plaza is a Port sponsored event brought to you by Foodwise, The San Francisco Human Rights Commission’s Dream Keeper Initiative, and the Ferry Building, in partnership with En2action’s Ujamaa Kitchen, La Cocina, Mandela Partners, and SF Black Wallstreet.

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