Three of Grand Junction’s black owned companies come from completely different backgrounds | Enterprise
With racial justice at the forefront of national talks last summer, support for black-owned companies was also a priority.
Here in Grand Junction, these stores pop up as online yoga businesses, used tire stores, and fashion authenticators.
Teri Ciocco has taken a winding road to entrepreneurship. She was a geologist, teacher, and science teacher. Now she can add small business owners to that catalog.
About a year ago, Ciocco Yogis launched Pay Yogi, an online marketplace where yoga teachers can buy and sell lessons and resources.
“For most of my career, I’ve been a science teacher at Orchard Mesa Middle School. This is where I was inspired, ”said Ciocco. “When I was teaching in School District 51, I saw that collaboration, sharing, and teamwork take everything to a higher level. So that’s what I’m trying to do with yoga. “
Ciocco and her husband moved to Grand Junction after living on the Front Range. He accepted a job in accounting while she worked for the US Geological Survey and the US Department of Energy.
These jobs required a lot of travel, and with three children she wanted to stay close to home. So she switched careers and opened a daycare center where she looked after preschoolers. This developed into a teaching career during which she was with District 51 for 20 years.
About 15 years ago she saw a need in her life and in the lives of her colleagues for peace of mind, and that was the cornerstone of Yogi’s Pay Yogi.
“I saw a personal need to relax at the end of the day. I decided to go to the yoga teacher school, ”she said. “I would teach this to other teachers in workshops in School District 51. I would also teach it at school after school and also teach it at the Palisade Community Center.”
After retiring as a teacher, she applied this experience to her next chapter.
You know these worksheets and classroom teachers are distributed in regular classrooms? Probably these were bought from other teachers on an online marketplace. Yogis Pay Yogi only do this with less algebra. Vendors sign up to list their lessons, music, photos, and yoga study guides on the website, and instructors can choose what to buy.
Yogis Pay Yogi saw a surge in awareness during the summer protests against racial inequality. The Black Lives Matter Grand Junction website also featured Ciocco on its page dedicated to such businesses.
She now sees a stable business and believes that the best way to support black-owned small businesses is simple.
“Word of mouth is good. If you tell someone how happy you are with this business, it goes a long way, ”she said. “That helped me a lot.”
For more information on Ciocco’s services, visit yogispayyogi.com
“It was a dream”
Jeffery Dottson first came to Grand Junction to play for what was then Mesa State College in the mid-1990s. He studied history and communication and was in the army.
But everything he’s done in life was with one goal in mind – to be a business owner. He has been head of BMT Auto, a used tire supermarket at 241 S 14th St., for four years and has been in the industry for 15 years.
“It was a dream of mine. I recognized the mistake early on, ”said Dottson. “I’ve worked all day and realized that I want to be my own boss. It gives you freedom and nobody but yourself is to blame. “
Dottson has four children and his goal is to retire when he is 55 so he can spend time with his family.
“Tomorrow is never promised, especially now,” he said.
Georgia-born Dottson draws much of his military experience, including race, from his time in the army. One lesson he had learned in the military was to judge someone not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
“We didn’t see any color in the army,” he said. “I was racially profiled before. I think most of the time they are not jealous of me because of my skin, but rather jealous of what I have as a man and a business owner. “
BMT Auto is open Monday to Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. You can call BMT Auto at 970-201-0929.
“WOMEN OF COLOR GET MORE CHANCES”
The idea of Liyah’s luxury came to Aaliyah Kimble while she was sitting in an airport and noticed a Louis Vuitton bag.
That sparked their interest in the brand. She became a Louis Vuitton reseller and is now an authenticator. She went this route after discovering that other Louis Vuitton authentication services were daunting, not user-friendly, and had little depth in their content.
These services didn’t go beyond that, and Kimble wanted to change that.
“It’s an online business so I get photos of their bags sent to me and let them know if it’s authentic,” she said. “I’ll walk you through the refund process if it’s wrong. If they bought it from a local store, it’s more difficult than if they bought it on eBay. “
Customers take photos of their stamps showing where they were made, tags, zippers and essentially anything that has the Louis Vuitton logo on it. Among other things, she can use the interior design or the color of the bag, as well as the fonts and format of the tags, to determine whether the product is not authentic.
Kimble is from San Diego and came to Grand Junction via Louisiana in 2019 with her fiancé.
“I like it here, but I miss the beach,” she said. “But the mountains are a pretty good compromise.”
When Kimble settled in Colorado, she saw growth in her customer base.
She is on a number of Fashion Facebook groups. When she came to them, the members were mostly white women. Now she is seeing a steady increase in women with skin color, showing her that they have more disposable income.
“It means women get more options with color,” she said. “It signals growth, although it should always have been that way.”
For more information, please visit liyahsluxuries.com or her Instagram @liyahsluxuries.