HBCU Grad Launches First Ever Black Woman-Owned Strip Mall in Washington, DC



Angel Gregorio, a serial entrepreneur and Howard University alum, has opened the nation’s first Black-owned strip mall in Washington, DC, with affordable commercial space aimed specifically at other Black women business owners.

Gregorio purchased a 7,500-square-foot commercial property worth $1 million in December 2021 to expand her business The Spice Suite. The property appeared dilapidated, but she saw the opportunity to transform it into something that would benefit many emerging local businesses.

Gregorio, a former school principal, has always wanted to make a difference in his community. Despite having no culinary background, she changed careers and opened The Spice Suite in 2015 to provide unique and special spice blends. It eventually evolved into a dream incubator for women, allowing them to sell free products in the shop.

Gregorio has since hosted nearly 500 free pop-up shops for Black business owners, establishing himself as a go-to resource for small business incubation. The Spice Suite outgrew its first location as its popularity grew, prompting Gregorio to relocate to a larger one.

After renovating the run-down property for over a year, Gregorio opened Black and Forth, a first-of-its-kind strip mall in Washington, DC that uses shipping containers as commercial spaces. She created a new destination not only for The Spice Suite, but also for other businesses such as hair, brow, nail, and waxing salons, now that she had a larger area.

Furthermore, Gregorio hopes to support and empower more businesses through commercial spaces, particularly in cities like Washington, D.C., where rent prices continue to rise unreasonably.

“I want this to become the model,” she shared during her ribbon-cutting ceremony, according to AfroTech. “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.”


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