BLK MKT Vintage’s mission is to “preserve black vintage artifacts, collectibles, curiosities, and curate them in a way that is accessible, inspiring and affirming.“
One of our favorite millennials, Syreeta Gates, spoke with founders Kiyanna Steward + Jannah Handy about all the cool ish they collect and why. This is what they had to say:
SB: Shoppe Black is about bridging worlds. How have you both been able to bridge Black thought, Black love and Black business with BLK MKT Vintage?
BMV: BLK MKT Vintage is the meeting place of so many of our own personal experiences – professional and otherwise – identities, communities and histories. We always call this our “labor of love” because it grew from our love of black people, cultural representation of black people and curiosity about our histories.
It’s our pride, manifested. Creativity, manifested. It’s our vision for how historical artifacts and products of the past can be sustainable and part of our imagined future.
We collect everything from vintage vinyl records, concert & blaxploitation posters, magazines, Afro-diasporic textiles and vintage signs.
BLK MKT Vintage allows us and our community to think about how the black experience can be codified via aesthetics to inspire, express identities, aspirations and ultimately, pay homage. It’s thoughtful and intentional curation. That’s what we’re trying to inspire.
SB: Why preserve Black culture in this manner?
BMV: Our visceral answer to this question is “why not!”. Black people are responsible for civilization as we know and understand it. Our histories are so rich and full of resilience and diversity of thought and experience. As black women, we see this work as a personal responsibility and one that begs of us, integrity and authenticity.
We also see this work as aligned with the missions of various black cultural institutions, for example the new “Blacksonian” in Washington, D.C. and the Schomburg center right here in New York City.
Our history is worth monuments, brick and mortar, archival sanctuaries and decades of investment – you know.
Before artifacts ever make it into museum spaces, they must be collected or made.
Someone has to attribute value to an item. In our case, BLK MKT Vintage is our admiration for black culture and black people, personified. A curated love story, if you will.
SB: What’s your vision for BLK MKT Vintage?
BMV: Our vision for BLK MKT Vintage is to thoughtfully curate the best of black vintage curiosities, cast-off’s and collectibles in order to inspire spaces and affirm pride. We see this business as a hub of blackness – where folks can come to find everything from historical artifacts to hip varsity jackets.
A repository of black cool, we suppose – but accessible and tangible for folks. In our current model, we’re operating as an e-commerce shop, but within the next year, we’re looking to open a brick and mortar shop that be a haven of black culture, personified.
An intentional shopping experience and community space that looks to the artifacts of our past to inform our present.
SB: How have you found a market for this type of business and how do you keep your audience informed on new pieces?
BMV: We believe firmly that if there are things you want and need to see in the world that don’t exist, you should create them. We see ourselves as filling a niche that hasn’t existed yet – at least in this form.
Between the two of us and our friends, there was a desire for a space to engage our nostalgia and be affirmed, not marginalized.
Word of mouth has helped us gain proof of concept at so many moments in our journey. What started out as us selling at flea markets every weekend has moved us into the e-commerce space and soon, to a brick and mortar home.
Etsy and Instagram is where the bulk of our community is and with the engagement on our site, one can see the ways in which there’s a desire to invest in black history, black business owners, black creativity and black historical memory.
All of our items are shared on the Instagram account daily and purchases are made via our Etsy shop. Instagram is a such a dope way to build community, and it’s the platform we chose to share that BLK MKT Vintage has to offer.
Social Media Links
Instagram – @blkmktvintage
Facebook – facebook.com/blkmktvintage
Etsy – etsy.com/shop/blkmktvintage
Website – blkmktvintage.com
Syreeta Gates is a Hip-Hop Archivist, Founder of The Gates Preserve & #YoStayHungry. She’s committed to preserving the culture. Check for Syreeta and her work at Yostayhungry.com