By George Kevin Jordan, AFRO Staff Writer

The line for the Black Love Experience event snaked back from the entrance and curved around a corner down Mississippi Avenue, S.E. Hundreds of people huddled the cool air waiting for their chance to get inside.

You only have to step inside a few paces to know the wait was worth it. The Black Love Experience, is a women-led event promoting growth, economic development and the arts across D.C. Over 40 vendors from the District, New York, Philadelphia, Senegal and South Africa that set up shop this year at THEARC, 1901 Mississippi Ave, S.E. on March 23.

The Black Love Experience, created by Anika Hobbs, is a women-led arts, entrepreneurship and lifestyle event promoting growth, economic development and arts across D.C. was held on March 23 at THEARC in Southeast, D.C. (Photos by George Kevin Jordan)

Each step you take moves you on a journey that takes over all your senses, from the visuals of art and lights, to the music that thumps throughout the halls, to the touch of fabric or organic lotions on your hand. And of course the culture that weaves it all together.

“We are beyond excited to curate another Black Love Experience this year and even more excited for it to stay in Southeast, D.C.,” said  Anika Hobbs, owner of Nubian Hueman and The Black Love Experience visionary. “Our goal is to capture our audience sonically, mentally and spiritually, while we celebrate the resilience of the Black community, encourage economic and creative support and highlight wellness options with our specially tailored programming.”

According to organizers there were over 2,000 attendees last year. This year the hallways of the two story event were packed with excited patrons moving through each room.

This year’s theme was “Organic Chemistry.” In a recent profile for the {AFRO}, Hobbs explained the meaning behind the theme saying,  “It’s about resilience in our DNA. We wanted something that stood behind science. And the other part of it was it’s organic chemistry with all the people involved. It’s kind of like organic that we all come together to form a body.”

Event sponsors included Lil SoSo Productions, Goddess Body, Yelp D.C., Think Local First, 202 Creates.

Attendees also enjoyed:

Festive spirits curated by Tahiirah Habibi of The Hue Society and Mariama Bramble aka “Brownbelle”, featuring Black-owned liquor, beer, and wine brands including locally brewed Sankofa Beer; special acoustic sounds and beat-making curated by New Orleans-based group DOPEciety of Couches;The Black Joy Lab, a series of panel discussions ranging from Black art and brand management to the effects of the current immigration policies on the Black community; energy workshops centered around self-care and wellness by Risikat Okedeyi of Lil SoSo Productions; art curation by Charles Philippe Jean-Pierre displaying a mural and photography series and The Black Food Park presented by Kezia Williams and Erikka Hamer of The Black upStart.

Zia Bowen, owner of Baltimore based 1122 Clothing Company, has been in business for about two years and was excited about the opportunity to participate in the event as a vendor.

“This is for Black people by a Black person,” Bowen said. “So a lot of my messages and things that my brand stand for is something I want to implement in our culture things like ‘love’ and ‘freedom to be.’” Bowen who sells handmade items says the response has been amazing.

Arlene Jones and Irma Holland came in from Annapolis for the event. They are strong supporters of the arts community. Holland’s daughter is also a vendor at the event.

“It is a nice experience, very friendly with beautiful people and beautiful art,” Jones said.

Holland said they both enjoy the consumer experience as well as the educational side of events like this. “I’ve bought some things, some art, some clothining to be connected to learn what is important in our culture.”