Shala Waines; The Vision Creative Behind Soul Swap Meet
Publisher Cheryl Morrow spoke to Shala about her vision and passion for Black San Diego, and the opportunity her vision affords Black businesses.
It is clear that Shala is clear. She modestly accepted this achievement as our Entrepreneur of 2021 with grace. But that is not the real reason SDMNEWS chose Waines. It has been her consistent acumen that has allowed her to see a dream fulfilled; one trait all self-starters possess. Historically speaking Black San Diego has always been one of America’s successful economic business communities. I remember growing up, my father being a publisher since 1959, creating a business directory circa 1969 with a sum of 211 Black-Owned businesses with actual addresses. What Shala Waines has managed to do in the present-day, is just plain Black Excellence.
After speaking with Shala, Shala is even more determined to keep the tradition of her successful predecessors, though she walks in the footsteps of giants, she is well on her way to imprint her own footprints in the sands of greatness, so if you’re at the beach one day, and see a set of giant enormous footprints, just know Shala was there.
Shala goes on to say, “My goal is to show off others, their gifts, and talents, it’s what drives me.”
Congratulations Shala Waines!
SDMNEWS: Do you find that people want to support Black-owned and local businesses easily?
SW: I find that genuinely in their hearts that they would like to support black-owned and local businesses, but I believe San Diego is very cliquish! If you are not a part of the clique that they normally support, I find it challenging for the support to be there overall for all black businesses.
SDMNEWS: Why do you feel the Swap Meet format is a solution?
SW: The swap meet format is the answer because it is a unique platform! There are not a lot of black-owned platforms for entrepreneurs to be able to showcase their passions to the community! Not only do we need to support them with their business, but support them with marketing and other aspects! It’s almost like a family-oriented environment!
SDMNEWS: Why do you feel the Swap Meet has grown even through CoVid-19?
SW: The Soul Swap Meet has grown even more during the pandemic because entrepreneurs had time to zone in on their passion! A lot of people who worked at a site were working from home and that gave them more time to focus on what they wanted to do every day for a living!
SDMNEWS: What’s been some of your challenges?
SW: Some of the challenges that we have faced is our lack of venue spaces! Our ultimate goal is to be housed at one particular venue. I also believe that the black community feels that we should stay in the predominantly black community in order for us to be successful and I do not believe in that! In order to thrive and be successful, you have to include other communities and or other ethnicities! And because I feel that way, when we went to Kearny Mesa instead of being in southeastern San Diego, we had a lot of backlash! But the backlash came from people who did not have solutions! We have also experienced a lack of support from those who are supposed to be community ambassadors! I believe there isn’t enough support within our own community! An organization or group can see that you’re being successful and because you have been successful without them, they no longer have the desire to support what you have.
SDMNEWS: What group or persons have benefitted from the Soul Swap Meet in your opinion?
SW: The soul swap meet has helped many different organizations. We have done collaborations with start-up companies and also high school alumni and nonprofit organizations! But ultimately our goal was to help any entrepreneur that needed to step out with their passion and have that encouragement! Our youngest entrepreneur that we have serviced was Xarieya’s Vegan Delights 14-year-old, and Faricha Wiley of Custom T’s n Thingz, it is people like those two ladies, that propels me forward, they have been with us since day one and will still be with us!
SDMNEWS: How did you come up with the Name?
SW: When I was thinking of a name for my event, I wanted it to mean something. I wanted it to come from inside and have a lot of meaning regarding passion! So when I thought of the word soul, Soul does not distinguish your ethnicity it distinguishes what’s in your heart and what you are passionate about! And the word swap meet just means a collective group of entrepreneurs in the same space having the same passion and opportunities.
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The San Diego Monitor-News has been serving Black San Diego since 1986