Photo Credit: April Lawrence
Inside Black Bazaar: Honolulu's Black-Owned Cultural Hub
Established in March 2020, Honolulu-based social organization, Black Bazaar HNL was formed by a group of tenacious Black women during the heightened COVID-19 cases in Hawai’i. Co-founders Amy Benson and Victoria Salter took to Facebook to cultivate an active online group of Black locals who reside in Oahu and this group caught the attention of Black travelers who were seeking a sense of community on the island.
Through word-of-mouth between the Black residents based in Honolulu and neighboring cities that were full of Black military families, the Black Bazaar began to flourish into a cultural hub for Black folks to receive more visibility. Now, the social community hosts virtual talent shows and panels that feature Black trailblazers as well as hold in-person events for community members to experience Black entertainment, businesses, culinary, and wellness activities.
“In the very beginning, one of the goals was to merge the Black military community here with the Black civilian community, because some of our Black friends were military and some of our friends were civilians,” Black Bazaar’s co-founders told Travel Noire. “So, with Hawaii being, you know, 3.5 percent Black, we were trying to find a way to have all of us together, even though there may not be many of us here.”
During the pandemic, the Black Bazaar social community expanded exponentially over Facebook because many Black expats and travelers in Hawaii were seeking ways to connect when in-person gathering were not allowed on the island. Then, virtual event programming became a part of Black Bazaar’s online reputation when they hosted panels with established Black entrepreneurs through workshops and showcasing other accessible Black services.
The private Facebook group helped push the Black Bazaar into a state of recognition where they are able to connect with local Honolulu-based venues to host cultural culinary and retail experiences so that they can help tighten the Black community in Hawaii.
“We really wanted to find spaces and create spaces where Black business owners can highlight their business products and services by doing social events that became essentially a bazaar,” Benson added.
In honor of Black Fae Day, Amy Benson hosted the Melanated Mamas Black Fae Day rooftop dinner. Victoria’s expertise of being a professional chef enhances the dining experiences the Black Bazaar puts together for its community members. She and Victoria have partnered for the past year to produce Black Bazaar’s elaborate events and Benson’s premium concierge business, Planes and Champagne. It has definitely given them both the power-duo dynamic to transform the Black Bazaar into a Black traveler must-see.
“We did a Black Bazaar penthouse meet up and that was literally right before the pandemic hit,” Benson said. “It was two stories of Black vendors, Black artists, and different food experts here. There was such a huge response of interested Black artists and vendors coming out and that was a notable moment for our organization knowing that we could merge communities.”
For Juneteenth, the Black Bazaar is going to host an in-person cookout similar to their successful 2020 Juneteenth celebration that will bring the social community together. There will be wellness activities such as yoga and meditation and kids entertainment, to celebrate the shift in legislation to officially honor the historical Black holiday.
With a membership service, Black Bazaar will send direct event programming for future events, and there will be more access to intimate events such as dinners and private gatherings.
To learn more about Black Bazaar visit the Instagram page here.