Cianni Jackson, once a payroll administrator now a burgeoning entrepreneur, is making waves with her Afrocentric and Black pride inspired designs on display at her CIK Apparel store in San Francisco. This is no ordinary location, however, the space was formerly occupied by check-cashing services but is now transforming into a beacon for Black-owned businesses.

From managing payrolls to creating designs that elegantly blend symbols and elements of African heritage into wardrobe staples, Jackson’s journey has been nothing short of inspiring. Through her business, she aspires to deepen appreciation for the richness and diversity embodied within African culture while propelling support for Black-owned businesses.

CIK Apparel is not just a store for Jackson, it’s a space for cultural exchange, a bold testament to Black pride right in the heart of San Francisco. This exciting change in her career was bolstered by a city-led incubator and accelerator program which breathes new life into the old check-cashing outlet, transforming it into a vibrant entrepreneurial hub for Black business owners.

With the support of the San Francisco Housing Development Corporation, the space under the Fillmore concert hall has been repurposed into a retail area that showcases items from multiple ventures. Since its opening, the initiative has engaged 22 vendors and achieved over $200,000 in sales and marketplace activity.

Moreover, the program has offered crucial business education, with 97 businesses from various sectors graduating within the first two years. By fostering a supportive environment, the program aids businesses in thriving and inspires individuals to embrace entrepreneurship.

Upon completion of training, each entrepreneur is rewarded with $7,500 in funding. Additional grants between $10,000 and $15,000 are also provided by the city, along with the opportunity to take an advanced financial literacy course.

Marketers can both rent physical space and promote their products on the center’s website. The rent is set at $650 per month plus a 3% sales transaction fee, whilst digital vendors retain 90% of their revenue after packaging and shipping expenses.

The center frequently hosts a wide array of events to draw in customers, ranging from culinary demonstrations to spoken word performances, acting as a spotlight for the district’s hidden talent. The center’s active role in fostering local talent and supporting small businesses and startups demonstrates a deep commitment to both cultural and economic development within the region.

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