By Terry Dean
Annie Bell Fragrances at 3 N. Austin Blvd. attracted dozens of shoppers Oct. 4, as part of the latest business economic rally organized by the Austin African American Business Networking Association.
Saturday’s was the third Black Economic Empowerment Rally (BEER) organized to support new and existing black-owned businesses on the West Side.
Malcolm Crawford, the organization’s executive director, first spotted Annie Bell’s while driving down Austin Boulevard. He stopped in the newly opened shop to check it out. Impressed by the shop and its young owner, South Side native Fallon Johnson, Crawford looked to host his organization’s next BEER at Annie Bell.
Saturday’s event brought out residents, AAABNA members and elected officials, all shopping at the store that sells candles, soaps, bath oils and salts, and other items all made by Johnson.
In all, the shop netted about $1,300 for the entire day, including $1,000 in two hours during the rally.
Crawford encouraged everyone to shop and support Annie Bell Fragrances and other black-owned businesses in the community.
“It means a lot when somebody walks in, and you’ve been sitting here all day long and don’t nobody walk in, it’s the funniest feeling,” said Crawford, who co-owns, with his wife Stacia, Sankofa Cultural Arts and Business Center, 5820 W. Chicago Ave.
“But at least, you can blow your horn or look in and say, ‘Are you OK? Is there anything I can do to help you?’ That is very important to us who have businesses.”
Crawford bought a gift basket, which Johnson designs and makes, for his wife.
The shop, which opened last month, is named after Johnson’s late maternal grandmother.
Johnson, 31, said she chose that name because she was the closet person to her grandmother in the family. Johnson, who owns the shop with her 14-year-old daughter, Alexis, said she chose Austin to open her business because of its location and people.
“I’m not from the area, but I’m familiar with the area and know a lot about the businesses in the area,” said Johnson, an Englewood native who started making aromatherapy products for herself after years of buying those products from others.
While searching for candles online to buy for herself, she came across a do-it-yourself, candle-making product. She ordered the kit, made her first candles and other aromatherapy products, and had friends and family wanting her to make some for them.
“I wanted to offer a 100-percent natural product to my people, and my friends and family, and still be affordable, cost-efficient but all natural,” Johnson said, noting that other products on the market are not all-natural yet very expensive.