By Edward Henderson
We all know the cliché ‘home is where the heart is.’ However, if you ask Kay Black of One Africa, she’ll tell you home is where your culture is.
One Africa is Kay’s clothing and accessory pop up shop featuring merchandise, jewelry and fabrics directly sourced from Ghana. The venture was inspired by her first trip to Ghana and the special connection she made there.
“I felt like I was home when I was in Ghana,” said Kay. “I didn’t want to come back. … I’ve never been in a situation where I felt free. I never knew how much weight and pressure it was living in the United States. I would go 3 or 4 days without seeing someone of another race. From the people in the newspapers to the people on the toothpaste and commercials, they were all black. It was a positive image of us. I wanted to shove as much of the country as I could in my suitcase to be able to share it with everyone else.”
One of the things she brought back from Ghana were backpacks and other clothing made out of traditional material from the region. A store owner gave her the merchandise for free to see if she could sell it in the US and possibly start a partnership.
Kay was apprehensive at first due to her lack of experience in merchandise sales. But after the initial success and positive feedback she experienced, what started out as a shot in the dark became a newfound passion. She sees the clothing as an opportunity for Black Americans to get in touch with their roots.
“I want people to know Africa as home. Our people made this stuff. We have the opportunity to go back. If it can influence my life, I really believe it can influence someone else.”
Today, Kay receives material and merchandise from Kwame back in Ghana. One Africa, which is a statement of unity to her, features clothing, backpacks, hand fans and other custom items for her clients to enjoy.
She frequents local events and farmers markets to make sales, however, the most consistent place you can find One Africa is Black Xpression every Friday at La Bodega Art Gallery in Barrio Logan from 8-11pm.
Looking ahead, Kay is planning to bring over more custom items using the African prints and styles. She’s also working on organizing a special roll out for Black History Month this February. And with the release of the highly anticipated Marvel movie ‘Black Panther’ Kay wants to see everyone show up in traditional African garb to show solidarity and cultural pride.
“There is a lot of pro black cultural clothing, but it’s made here. I feel like its missing the point because it still goes back to Africa. Here at One Africa you’re getting something that made from someone who was local there, with local materials right in your hands.”
To learn more about One Africa and their merchandise, visit one1africa.com