“You know the holidays,” said event organizer Leslie Hughes. “Everybody shops. And they spend money at these big companies.”
Hughes is also founder and creator of Frizzy by Nature, LLC. She wanted to funnel some of those dollars to lesser-known St. Louis businesses.
“We wanted to encourage everybody to shop local, and let’s put the money back in the hands of the community that we love and care for so dearly.”
She pointed out the vendors offered unique gifts, many made by hand. Despite offering items that could yield higher revenues elsewhere, many black entrepreneurs at Frizz-mas were at a disadvantage.
“A lot of these vendors’ businesses obviously don’t have storefronts. They are all digital and online. So being able to get them out into the faces of people that way if word spreads even more to other customers, it’s a great opportunity.”
Hughes also leads the summertime Frizz Fest, a large outdoor vendor festival. It features entrepreneurs and products supporting customers with naturally-curly hair. Hughes said the Black entrepreneurs were grateful for a year-round celebration of Black beauty and local businesses.
“Whatever opportunities that come to us we source out to them. So, they’ve noticed that.”
Small kids and their grownups got to enjoy cookies, hot cocoa, a photobooth, raffles, and music. However, this was also a party with a purpose. Two big bins for the Little Bit Foundation stood at the entrance. Hughes said the event also offered a reminder that this was a season to give to the community.
“To give hats and gloves to [young people] ages 13 through 18, who may get skipped over when people think about giving back to the youth.”
Kristin Jackson came to Heydays from St. Louis County to meet the man of the hour.
“Look. Coco Santa? Oh! We are here, okay?”
She said this visit was about more than just pictures and Christmas wish lists. She pointed to her infant son in his car seat.
“I’m a new mom. I’m like, ‘Hey! We are getting him a picture with this Black Santa. representation matters.”
She said this was also a critical opportunity for her six-year-old nephew.
“I don’t think he’s ever seen a Black Santa. I wanted him to have that memory and that picture to see, ‘Hey! We are changing it up. St. Louis is doing something different.”
She said he is starting to notice that he looks different from traditionally-accepted images of St. Nick.
“He’s getting to the age where he’s noticing, this is cool, but it doesn’t look like me.”
“It just lets you know, he comes to our neighborhood too. Even if you don’t have a chimney.”
Jackson said the holidays are never just for the kids.
“It’s going down,” she laughed. “We’re getting candles. We are getting bath bombs. Everything Black.”
She then uttered the pledge from actress and director Issa Raye.
“What did Issa say? I’m rooting for everyone Black.”