Black Business Spotlight: Urban 29 (updated)

Urban 29
Chris Juhn/MSR News Joyce Saunders

Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, Urban 29 was destroyed during the recent civil unrest in South Minneapolis. To aid rebuilding efforts, visit the GoFundMe page.

Urban attire with a touch of sophistication

If you are looking for comfortable fashion​ ​with a casual appearance that will​ ​help you keep up with the “in” crowd,​ ​Urban 29 may just be the clothing store for​ ​you. Owned by Joyce Saunders, the store, located​ ​near Chicago Avenue and Lake Street in​ ​South Minneapolis, opened its doors in July​ ​of last year.

“I have had other retail stores, but​ ​I got the idea for this one about five​ ​years ago,” Saunders stated. “It’s​ ​a product of the vision I want to​ ​provide for the community, a nice, clean, professional “for us by us”​ ​kind of thing. Nobody is left out,​ ​though. I want to set the stage for​ ​Black owners who can accommodate​ ​any look.

“People assume that when you go​ ​to a smaller store it doesn’t have the​ ​quality of other stores, Saunders said,​ ​“but that’s not true. My store has the​ ​same quality and look as most department​ ​stores.”

She emphasized that the process​ ​of opening a Black business includes​ ​“a lot of planning, goal-setting​ ​and saving. One of the main​ ​obstacles for Black business is startup capital.​ ​“I started small, literally in the trunk of my​ ​car selling items. Later I did vendor shows​ ​and saved while still working jobs. It’s really​ ​about following your vision and saving the little money you have. I did it without a business​ ​loan or grant.”

Urban 29 has everything from jogging suits​ ​and tracksuits to button-ups, jeans, hats, boots,​ ​and casual wear. Its fashion appeals to practically​ ​everyone regardless of age.

A customer volunteered, “It’s a cute clothing​ ​boutique that has men’s and women’s​ ​clothing. Everything is so cute. The owner is​ ​always nice and helpful.”

“We basically follow a lot of the trends in​ ​the fashion industry,” Saunders emphasized,​ ​“a lot from the hip hop world and streetwear. Some things never go out of style. A lot of the items are trendy, but at the same time we can​ ​accommodate a mature, classy audience.”​ ​Saunders pointed out that one of the biggest​ ​selling clothing lines in Urban 29 is BlacLeaf, designed by a Black clothing designer​ ​in Miami. “The main thing about Blac Leaf is​ ​that it’s Black-owned and Black-designed. We​ ​were one of the first stores to carry him.”

Chris Juhn/MSR News Exterior of Urban 29

Urban 29 also carries other Black clothing​ ​lines such as T.I.’s AKOO (A King Of​ ​Oneself), Streets Is Watching and RedTag,​ ​which are clothing designs out of New​ ​York, and Chris Brown’s Pyramid. Urban29 also has its own official clothing line.​ ​Saunders welcomes other up-and-coming​ ​Black clothing lines for opening slots to display​ ​and showcase their products. “When you​ ​are local and starting out, you are not in a position​ ​to wholesale,” she explained. “We offer competitive prices.

“Even if you don’t spend, just come see,”​ ​said Saunders, whose long-term goal is expanding​ ​to other locations, including North​ ​Minneapolis, St. Paul and surrounding areas.​ ​

Urban29 is located at 804 East Lake Street in​ ​Minneapolis. They can be reached at their 612-​​824-4122 store line, or by email at urban29fashion@​​gmail.com. Also on Instagram urban29_, and Facebook (Urban 29 clothing).

Website address: urban29fashion.com.

About Ivan Phifer

Ivan B. Phifer is contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. He can be reached at iphifer@spokesman-recorder.com

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