Montreal market selling Black women-owned products will stay open

Aisha Temfack sells her line of purses at the Black Woman Market. (Kwabena Oduro/CBC - image credit)
Aisha Temfack sells her line of purses at the Black Woman Market. (Kwabena Oduro/CBC - image credit)

A pop-up shop only featuring goods created and sold by Black women at Place Versailles was meant to stay open during Black History Month, but it was such a hit it will keep running until the end of April.

"It's so encouraging, if it's extended it means it worked — it means that means people like it, people want to come here, people want to support us," said Aisha Temfack, who sells her line of purses at the Black Woman Market.

"It's so encouraging. It's validation that we're doing something good and we should keep doing it."

Temfack is selling her handbags in person for the first time in her business's history and says the Black Woman Market is the perfect place to start. When customers come in, she can chat with them and let them touch the purses in ways that are impossible when selling online.

The market also allows customers to discover other products after checking out what first caught their eye.

"I think it's absolutely amazing and long overdue. I think having a lot of amazing women here allows us to benefit from each other's audience and each other's experience," said Temfack.

Kwabena Oduro/CBC
Kwabena Oduro/CBC

Cindy Matsi sells her spices at different markets around the city, and since launching Sineha Spices last year, the Black Woman Market is the first store selling her products.

She loves giving clients demonstrations and letting them smell the aromatic spices. Her business was born after she took a trip to Cameroon.

"It was so different from what you can get in the market, I was like 'People need to discover this, people need to discover the black pepper,'" she said.

Aminata Sall is the co-founder of the Black Woman Market and says it was created to give Black women exposure for their products.

"It is really important for our organization to make sure that the Black women that are in business have a voice and have representation and are visible and it's easy to find their products," she said.

Kwabena Oduro/CBC
Kwabena Oduro/CBC

Sall also sells perfume, body sprays and home sprays at the market and uses plenty of products sold there like body lotion, hair products, soaps and cooking ingredients.

"Our goal is to first look in the community, whatever we need, if someone is making it before going to any other shop to buy it," she said.

The store doesn't only get stuff made from women living in Montreal. For example, customers at the Black Woman Market can purchase hand-woven baskets shipped from Senegal.

Even after the store closes in April, the Black Woman Market plans to open up more stores around the city.

Along with giving merchants a place to sell their products, the Black Woman Market also creates jobs in administration and marketing.

Anthonia Louis, the shop's marketing director, says she always dreamed of working in an environment that shared her vision.

"I want it to be bigger and for people to truly see and come experience Black products and see that there's quality in them and we deserve this space as much as any other group of people," said Louis.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.