The Life at Salt City Market features products from young entrepreneurs in the community. | Kate Minutillo, Staff Photographer

Launching a Path

Local vendors test the market at city’s newest retail space housed at Salt City Market

By Kate Minutillo

Salt City Market has quickly become a hub for vendors and community members, and its newest retail space is giving young entrepreneurs the opportunity to put their products into the market.

The Life, which recently opened inside Salt City Market, launched initially through a partnership between The Good Life Foundation, a local non-profit youth foundation, and the Allyn Family Foundation, which funded Salt City Market. The store held a soft opening earlier this month followed by a grand opening March 27. Shaun McCarthy, vice president of operations for GL Imprinting, The Good Life Foundation’s print company, said the space is designed to help young entrepreneurs get experience and feedback testing their products in the market.

“When the opportunity became available, we said ‘definitely,’” McCarthy said. “We’d like to give our entrepreneurs a place to be able to put their stuff and test it, see how the general public responds.”

The Life currently features the following brands: Salt City Market, Malika Scarves, Love is Dope, In Our Words, Harmony Essentials, Abelle and Good Life Foundation.

“We created The Life to create a gateway into entrepreneurship for young Black and brown entrepreneurs that typically do not have one,” said Good Life Foundation CEO Hasan Stephens in a press release. “The collective partnership provides training, support, coaching and experimental learning for young entrepreneurs that are just breaking into the market.”

McCarthy works with entrepreneurs who sell clothing to develop their designs and coordinate printing. He said entrepreneurs who sell their products at the store also have the opportunity to receive consulting services such as brainstorming new ideas or making a webpage.

“The best part of that natural relationship that we are bringing to them is that we can give them feedback and help them with all the natural progression of their products,” McCarthy said.

Shewa Shwani, the founder of Malika Scarves, said the guidance she has received from Stephens and McCarthy throughout the development of her small business has been very helpful. Shwani founded Malika Scarves to sell hijabs that are affordable, good quality and that give women confidence.

“It’s just so nice to see girls wearing my products, especially saying that my products are very good quality and that they do come back to me,” Shwani said. “So that’s definitely great, and it was an honor to be asked to have my products be at The Life.”

Goodline Marshall, founder of Abelle, said she is excited for the opportunity to have her skin care products sold at The Life. | Kate Minutillo, Staff Photographer

These entrepreneurs are also supported by Le Moyne College’s Madden School of Business and the Keenan Center for Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Creativity, according to the press release.

Goodline Marshall, a student at Le Moyne, was connected to Stephens through the college. Marshall started her line of skin care products, Abelle, about two years ago. She said she has already sold a few products in the short time they have been available in the store.

“It gives me a big opportunity to test my product, how the public’s going respond to it, and the feedback that I’m going to get,” Marshall said. “So I’m really excited about that.”

Danielle Harmon, founder of Harmony Essentials, a natural body care company, volunteers at the store twice a week. She said she has enjoyed being able to talk with customers and get their feedback. Harmon started her business in August and said she is grateful to have her product in a store like The Life so soon after its launch.

“It hasn’t even been a year since I started, and they’re already in the storefront,” Harmon said. “So that’s the opportunity that a lot of young entrepreneurs don’t get, it takes them a while for someone to really want to shelf their stuff.”

The store is set up as a consignment structure so that entrepreneurs can test multiple designs, bring new items in as well as remove items as desired, McCarthy said. The natural flow of traffic in the market will give entrepreneurs the feedback they need to assess the success of their products, he said.

“One of the key things about being an entrepreneur is finding a way to the market,” McCarthy said. “It’s one of the hardest pieces of the puzzle: ‘How do I get noticed?”

The Life is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday inside Salt City Market, 484 S. Salina St.

Katelyn Minutillo is a journalism student at the Newhouse School

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