What is the name of your business?

black GEM space

TBE: What is your Name?

SJ Gillespie

TBE: How long has your business been open?

Since Feb. 2017

TBE: What is the mission statement of your business?

Afro-textile yoga and self-care products for sustainable practice, featuring the GEM yoga mat carrying strap.

TBE: How did you get your idea or concept for the business?

GEM is a response to the high levels of toxic stress people of color experience in society. GEM handcrafted tools are meant to help manage stress levels through mindfulness.

TBE: How many employees?


TBE: What service(s) or product(s) do you offer/manufacture?

GEM yoga mat carrying strap

TBE: What’s your company’s goals?

Encourage more black people to practice yoga as a form of exercise, stress regulation, mindfulness, and self-expression for healthy embodiment and balanced lives.

TBE: What is unique about your business?

GEM products are handcrafted and geared to black people with afro-textile designs | The Galaxy is Black.

TBE: What are your responsibilities as the business owner?

Marketing, promotion, website shop development, product design and manufacture, shipping and handling

TBE: What made you choose this type of business?

I’m a certified trauma-informed yoga instructor looking to expand my community’s interest in the ancient practice of yoga.

TBE: Does your company help the community where it is located?


TBE: Have you ever turned down a client/customer? If so, why?


TBE: If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?

Stay organized: think of short, medium and long-term intentions for your company and consider how each purchase and decision gets you closer to your intent.

TBE: What are some strategies you use for working with an unhappy customer?

I have an online chat feature through my website if customers would like to talk, in addition to being accessible through direct message on Instagram.

TBE: Where would you like to be in 3 years?

Direct access to a Ugandan fabric market to begin selling traditional-textile GEM yoga mat carrying straps, with global shipping and national/international features and spokespersons.

TBE: What would your previous employers say about you?

Self-starter, innovative, organized, accountable.

TBE: When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?

Cashier (holla to self-checkout!)

TBE: What was your first business idea and what did you do with it?

Improvement services to local businesses, cleared out a hoarded clothing store to prepare for the opening.

TBE: What do you wish you knew before you started your first business?

Slow start–keep believing!

TBE: What did you learn from the worst boss you ever had?

Only I can control me, people understand others from their lived experience and will make assumptions on your behalf if they have unchecked privilege and are comfortable with incompetence.

TBE: What has being a business owner taught you?

Make it a business not a non-profit!

TBE: Is there anything that you would like to add?

Want to see more from Black GEM Space!? Here is more information about them.

Don’t forget to go and support them!





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