The saying “lift as you climb” is often heard among entrepreneurs.

However, in addition to the importance of building fruitful connections, Angel Gregorio is amplifying the imperative need for affordable commercial space for Black business owners, especially Black women.

After Gregorio decided to expand her business — The Spice Suite — in Washington, D.C., she wanted to use it as an opportunity to support fellow Black women entrepreneurs in opening their stores.

In December 2021, the D.C. native purchased a 7,500-square-foot lot for $1 million with assistance from D.C.’s Commercial Property Acquisition Fund, DCist reports.


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Now, Gregorio has officially remodeled the property into Black and Forth — a strip mall, located in D.C.’s Langdon neighborhood, of local Black-owned businesses.

“It was just this catchy, cool name that I created for how I describe my process of going back-and-forth with Black business owners,” Gregorio told DCist/WAMU. “And now it is the name of a shopping center — a strip mall — that I own in D.C. So I feel good about that and I’m grateful to be in the space.”

On Jan. 13, Black and Forth had its soft launch, which included the opening of Gregorio’s spice shop.


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In the next three to four weeks, hair, nail, waxing, and braid salons will join The Spice Suite, the outlet details.

As D.C.’s rent prices continue to be out of reach for many residents, Gregorio aims for her strip mall to serve as an example of what economic empowerment and freedom through business and commercial spaces looks like.

“I want this to become the model,” Gregorio shared during her ribbon-cutting ceremony. “I want to be able to consult for free and talk to other people on how to do this in your city, in your quadrant, so this becomes the standard of how we care for each other and how we show up for community.”