Nubian Hueman at the Anacostia Arts Center. (Photo by Anika Hobbs)
In just two short years, Nubian Hueman Boutique Lounge at The Anacostia Arts Center has grown to become a premier retail destination for ethnically-influenced clothing.
The boutique’s target customer is much like its owner, Anika Hobbs. “She’s someone who’s interested in worldly affairs, very much interested in travel and dance culture. She’s looking to be her own woman and is not afraid to do that,” Hobbs told the AFRO. “She really loves bold colors, bold prints and is very conscious about what it is that she’s wearing and the impact that it has on people who are viewing her.”
With a natural affinity for African art and clothing, Hobbs has been able to source garments, accessories, beauty products and art from designers and artists on a global scale. Since its conception in 2013, the boutique has featured at least 70 different brands – 80 percent designed by people of color.
For 11 years, Hobbs cultivated her business acumen and eye for fashion working at H&M, assisting in opening some of the retail chain’s first stores in the United States. In 2009, she began working in the store’s D.C. branch. “I was able to see what really worked for them and what did not work – learning the lessons of a small business growing into a large business,” she says.
At the same time, she dreamed of her own store where “all of the things that I would find at festivals or one-off events could be in one space – those pieces that I really love,” she says.
In 2012, she left H&M and began to build momentum for Nubian Hueman by vending at events with the work of one artist and a box full of earrings she designed herself.
A key element of the boutique’s success is that it has always been more about clothing. Many featured brands also give back or employ individuals in underprivileged areas. “We’re very much about not just being here, being fashionable and trying to be cool, but it’s also about making a difference – that’s really important to us,” says Hobbs.
In February 2015, Nubian Hueman hosted its second annual Black Love DC event, furthering itself as a hub for celebrating Black culture through collective interactions. Throughout the year, trunk shows and smaller events allow up-and-coming brands to display themselves in an intimate setting.
“At some point, I would love to have my own brick and mortar space so a street front would be awesome,” says Hobbs “And then the goal is to take the brand and spread out through major cities through the U.S. and then hopefully internationally.”
Nubian Hueman Boutique Lounge is located at 1231 Good Hope Rd., S.E., www.nubianhueman.com.