By Nyame-kye Kondo, Special to the AFRO
In the last decade co-working spaces have become a popular option for freelancers, entrepreneurs and corporations alike. Rooted in the ideology that conventional office spaces are not for everyone, coworking spaces are quickly becoming a popular option for working adults. Recently an African American owned co-working space and marketplace called Distinctly Creative opened in Mount Rainier and is providing Black creatives with a space to call their own.
Established by Howard University graduate and fashion designer Morgan Davis, the space was developed specifically for Black people.
“Opening a Black creative marketplace and co-working space is something that I had wanted to do from the inception of Distinctly Creative. However, I knew it would take time,” Davis said. “With Distinctly Creative’s primarily goal to help Black creatives thrive personally and professionally, it’s important that we as Black folks have spaces where we can connect with others, grow our businesses and be our unadulterated selves without having to deal with the White gaze, racism, bigotry and other phobias.”
The first of its kind in the D.M.V area, the opening of Distinctly Creative took time and patience. Initially set to open in Suitland, Davis ran into a number of problems and had to reroute numerous times; but her commitment to the project was unwavering.
“Originally, it was supposed to be opening in Suitland. However, after finding that the owners were running a scam I moved to a spot in Mount Rainier, Md. And then leading up to the opening of the space, I had a lot of headaches when it came to permitting, inspections, renovations, etc.,” she said. “Entrepreneurship can be a very interesting journey; however, I am incredibly blessed and appreciative for the experiences that I’ve had thus far with this space because it’s not only made me wiser professionally, but it’s also really helped me grow personally.”
Breaking down barriers and creating opportunities for Black creatives, Davis, felt that it was important to base the co-working space in Prince George’s County because she believed that Black Creatives should be able to have the resources to thrive and connect without having to go to Washington, D.C.
“I love D.C., but I felt that I could do more for my audience- Black creatives in the D.M.V. overall- by having the space in P.G. County,” Davis said. “You shouldn’t have to feel like going to D.C. is the only way that you’ll get opportunities as a Black creative.”
Located in the heart of Mount Rainier’s art district, Distinctly Creative is housed in a former church and looks inconspicuous from the outside, but upon entering the venue, the colors and merchandise beautify the space and gives it a unique edge. Recognizing that the journey is just as important as the destination, Davis is adamant on emphasizing the importance of perseverance.
“Be okay with starting small, and don’t focus so much on being perfect. There’s nothing wrong with taking things slow. It may not be as glamorous, but it doesn’t mean that what you’re doing still isn’t important.”