There’s a new installment of Washington Performing Arts’ / Mars Arts DC’s Dance In DC series set to premiere tonight; this time, the performance will feature the very talented Akosua Amoakua (pictured in the thumbnail courtesy of Loves Life Photography) dancing at Nubian Hueman in Anacostia, whose Owner / Lead Curator Anika Hobbs recently spoke to me in over the phone to talk about the collaboration.
She said the Washington Performing Arts connection came earlier this year when the organization sponsored their Black Love Experience; Chief Operating Officer and Director of Finance C. Lorenzo “goLo” Evans suggested Nubian Hueman become involved as a location for one of the six featured performances in the Dance In DC series, and it turned out that working with Akosua was a serendipitous fit – her brother is a longtime supporter and customer, and the business-dancer partnership easily fell into place.
“We had Akosua dance to afrobeats; it was a perfect match for us, because we focus on the African Diaspora in what we sell,” Hobbs said. “If you want to shop Black and Brown small independent businesses, we’re definitely that go-to place.”
A testament to that statement is that, even in the face of challenges presented by Covid, Nubian Hueman’s thoughtful and well-crafted product catalog has remained in high demand.
“I’d say our big triumph is that we’re still open. I know more than a few businesses that have closed down due to Covid, but we still have two stores open, as well as an e-commerce store. I think that’s really huge for us,” Hobbs said. “We’ve definitely had to pivot our business; we were much more focused on brick and mortar before, but since March and April, we’ve had to pivot into e-commerce, which is a totally different beast.”
And while the business (now in its seventh year) has been heavily fashion-focused the past six years, they’ve noticed and accommodated an increased demand for certain products now that people are spending much more time in the home; household items like candles, spices, artworks, etc. have seen a boost in sales, as have children’s products now that parents are looking to keep kids occupied.
Despite the changes and learning curves, it seems they’ve been able to adapt to the new demands exceedingly well, and have remained committed to fostering a community spirit by helping out others along the way. “We also started having pop-ups for small businesses, because they were having a hard time reaching their customers, and we’re actually launching an Amazon locker type system for small businesses now because we have space in our stores; they can drop off customers’ orders, and customers can come and pick those orders up from us.”
And this narrative plays out in the Dance In DC production, which highlights Nubian Hueman’s focus on things like entrepreneurship, community, and Black and Brown representation. It’s a great introduction to the business through a unique lens if you’re not already familiar, so be sure to tune in tonight to catch the premiere.