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Inc.: How a Mecca of Black America Inspired a Harlem-Based Candle Company

Written by: Harlem Candle Co.



Time to read: 1 min

Excerpt from Inc.

(read the full article here):

"Teri Johnson has turned candle-making into a celebration of the Harlem Renaissance and iconic figures like Josephine Baker and Langston Hughes.

In the late 1920s, Josephine Baker became one of the most famous performers in the world after dancing in a banana skirt at a show in Paris. Baker had come to the French capital from New York, where she appeared in the Broadway musical Shuffle Along and performed at Harlem's Plantation Club. Long after her death in 1975, her mansion on the outskirts of the city is still one of the most popular attractions in tours of Black Paris.  

It was from these tours, which she took while on a college internship in Paris in the late 1990s, that Teri Johnson discovered Baker's extraordinary story -- and those of many African American musicians, writers, performers, and business owners who had fled the United States seeking greater freedoms in Europe.

This immersion into Black Paris led Johnson to move to Harlem in 2000, where the names and stories that she had learned in France were etched on street names, schools, and monuments. By then Harlem, after years of high crime and urban blight, was experiencing a period of economic and cultural excitement not witnessed perhaps since the Roaring 20s, when -- at the height of the Harlem Renaissance -- people poured into this section of Upper Manhattan for its nightlife and culture.

For the next decade, Johnson pondered how she could participate in this revival of Black pride in Harlem. Then, in late 2014, after making scented candles for friends and family for the holidays in her kitchen, she realized that she could turn her hobby into a business that incorporated key aspects of Harlem's rich cultural heritage."