Historically, black-owned businesses have lacked critical support to survive, thrive, and expand. As an entrepreneur, Angel Gregorio is well aware of these challenges, which has inspired her to take small steps to support black businesses.
In this regard, she recently purchased a $1 million property in Washington, D.C. to open Black and Forth, a strip mall for Black women-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. “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.”
According to Dcist, the 7,500 square foot space will soon be home to four other Black-owned salon businesses. “We have a lot of conversation about affordable housing, but we don’t talk enough about making business space affordable for Black women,” Gregorio said during a soft launch. So, since no one is talking about it, I’ll just do it and let people talk about it.”
Gregorio obtained the million-dollar property with the assistance of DC government funds. Mayor Muriel Bowser has stated that she hopes to increase minority-owned business ownership to 33% by 2028. Gregorio is assisting in making this possible. The Commercial Property Acquisition Fund of D.C. provides grants to eligible businesses to help them acquire commercial property. The fund’s first applicant was Gregorio.
Gregorio stated that she wants her company to be a model for economic empowerment as well as freedom. Her dream is for D.C. to have more than one Black woman-owned strip mall.
According to her website, Gregorio, a Howard University alum and former school principal, is also known for her specialty spice shop called the Spice Suite, where she provides special spice blends to inspire chefs and home cooks.