The Bowser administration celebrated National Manufacturing Day on Wednesday by highlighting the launch of Yeleen Beauty Makerspace in the River Terrace neighborhood of Ward 7 in Northeast.

D.C. Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio joined city officials, executives from WACIF (Washington Area Community Investment Fund), and stakeholders at the launch. Makerspace is a commercially shared production space that supports women and founders of color in the beauty industry.

“We are creating the first manufacturing space for the beauty industry in the city,” said Rahama Wright owner of Yeleen Beauty Makerspace. “This is a space for entrepreneurs.”

Makerspace will be membership-based for business owners in the beauty industry with manufacturing and distribution options to aid growing businesses. The entrepreneurs will also receive training and consultation.

Wright said a recent McKinsey & Company report, “Taking a Good Look at the Beauty Industry,” said the beauty industry is a $60 billion industry but only $2.5 billion goes to Black-owned businesses even though Blacks spend $6.6 billion on its products.

“One of the main reasons why Blacks aren’t prominent in the beauty industry is that we don’t have access to spaces to make our products,” she said.

The Makerspace will have spaces for chemists, and entrepreneurs to test their products, a conveyor belt in the back of the facility for production as well as rooms for media and retail space for the member businesses to sell their wares.

“In this facility, an entrepreneur can make 10 products if they want to or if they need to make 1,000 products they can do that here, too,” Wright said.

The financing for Makerspace came largely as a result of a $640,000 DC Locally Made Manufacturing grant facilitated by DMPED and a $500,000 corporate donation supported by WACIF, Wright said. Kristi Whitfield, the director of the D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development, praised Wright’s efforts.

“When you control your supply line, you control your destiny,” Whitfield said. “This undertaking is not luck, it’s not happenstance, its blood, grind, and sweat.”

The Makerspace is scheduled to open in mid-summer of 2023. The project manager for Makerspace is William Alexander, president, and COO of SUSTAINABUILT based in Fort Washington, Md.  

James Wright Jr. is the D.C. political reporter for the Washington Informer Newspaper. He has worked for the Washington AFRO-American Newspaper as a reporter, city editor and freelance writer and The Washington...

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