Dr. Lakeysha Hallmon is creating wealth for Black entrepreneurs.

The Village Market

The former educator is CEO and founder of The Village Market, an Atlanta, GA-based marketplace launched in 2016 for Black entrepreneurs. Hallmon moved to the city in 2010 to work as an education research and evaluation specialist with the Georgia Department of Education, according to Forbes.

Yet, she turned her attention toward strengthening the Black dollar upon observing trends between retail businesses and Black consumers. She began hosting monthly master classes geared toward entrepreneurship and community development, LinkedIn mentions.

The Village Retail

The Village Market soon followed the master classes. Hallmon’s savings of $20,000, along with $3,500 pooled from family and friends, supported the marketplace’s beginning stages. The venture proved fruitful and allowed it to scale to a storefront in 2020 with The Village Retail. However, the retail launch proved to be a trying time for Hallmon.

“What I did was write the vision that I wanted for myself when the pandemic ended,” Hallmon said during her Elevated Tour in Houston, TX. “And I asked that ‘when the world… opens back up, just let me be better.’ And that’s when I had the vision to launch the Our Village name. That’s when I had the vision to launch The Village Retail store. So, two companies [were] birthed out of one of my worst moments in one of my trying and most scariest moments.”

She continued, “So, it doesn’t mean I wasn’t scared. It doesn’t mean that I wasn’t uncertain. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t have to have tough moments with my team. I personally paid my staff out of my personal bank account to keep people on… Something happens when you don’t panic. When you just decide to hit a pause and allow yourself to dream something different than what was there… I was cool if Village Market had to change. I was also cool if I had to change.”

Embracing the pivot was a formula for success. The storefront adopted a sales-percentage model. Entrepreneurs are charged for placing their items in the store, and a percentage of the profits is deducted from the final transaction.

The Village Market has facilitated $8.3 million in wealth being generated for Black entrepreneurs, an increase from $4.5 million in its inaugural year, per Forbes. Within the past two years, The Village Retail has garnered $1 million in sales, which includes e-commerce sales and Village Retail’s lifestyle brand.

“You can build a social enterprise and have real numbers,” Hallmon said. “Black retail companies are viable.”

Our Village United

In 2020, Hallmon launched Our Village United, a nonprofit offering technical training, small businesses incubator programs, and access to wellness coaches and mental health practitioners. Entrepreneurs have also benefited from the foundation’s Elevated Tour, which recently offered access to a $500,000 grant pool, each city along the tour had access to 75k, in collaboration with Mastercard’s “In Solidarity” Initiative and the BeyGOOD Black Parade Route.

Among its seven tour stops was Houston, TX, which awarded Simone Hopes Steele (Queen Aesthetics), Jonathan Cole (Chop Up Jay LLC), Sèna Pierre (Purpose Pawty), Anjuli Garcia (Studio Junk) and LaToya Mosby (The Behavior Toolbox)