As she continued to help hundreds of local businesses find a platform and an audience, Winston knew there was more to be done and in late April this year she opened The Entrepreneurs Connection on Wayne Avenue in the Oregon District, to help give local entrepreneurs the tools and education to be successful and grow their businesses.
The shop and marketplace sell a variety of different fashion, skincare, art, candles, makeup, jewelry and other items being created by small minority business owners with big ideas.
In addition to offering great shopping opportunities, each location offers special food experiences throughout the week with special vendors and food trucks on site.
Recently, Winston discussed her vision, what drives her, the food experiences she has connected to her businesses and what the future holds.
Tae Winston is the founder of the Entrepreneurs Connection which operates in three locations providing space for retail and training. JIM NOELKER/STAFF
Credit: JIM NOELKER
Credit: JIM NOELKER
Q: You seem to be involved in so many meaningful activities, programs and businesses throughout the city. What are you involved in, and how did you get to this point in your career?
A: I got to this point by hosting events for six years catered to helping small businesses and food trucks. I have mentored entrepreneurs who are interested in starting a business helping them launch their businesses and helping give them the tools to stay in business. A lot of entrepreneurs come to me and say they would have never stepped out if it hadn’t been for me.
I am an entrepreneur pusher. I’ll help anyone start a business. Don’t tell me you want to own your own business, because I’m going to make you if you do. I got to this point due to seeing a need for helping entrepreneurs and God giving me the vision and the platform to help them.
Q: What led you to open The Entrepreneurs Marketplace? What was the inspiration behind the shop’s mission?
A: I was renting out spaces to hold events and they were so successful that I knew there was an opportunity for more. I knew if I could open up a retail store that I could do an event every day and that people would show up to support these small businesses. For each one of these businesses I provide a storefront so that they have a space.
It’s a place for people to be intentional about eating local and shopping local. I came up with the concept because I don’t want business owners to have to quit their jobs in order to support their businesses. I want them to have the exposure and the time to be ready when they make their big move.
Also, I’m an autism mom. My son is the reason for a lot of this. My day job would make me feel bad and I knew I needed to start a new life in order to support him.
The second annual Wright Dunbar Day Block Party, organized by Dayton entrepreneur Tae Winston was held on Sunday, June 27, 2021, poet Paul Laurence Dunbar’s birthday. This year’s event was twice the size of 2020’s debut celebration featuring 120 vendors and 25 food trucks. Sunday was also the last day for dine-in and carryout at Texas Beef & Cattle Company. The restaurant opened in the Wright Dunbar Business District in 2016 and will be focusing solely on catering with hopes of finding a new location in the future. Did we spot you there? TOM GILLIAM / CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Credit: Tom Gilliam
Credit: Tom Gilliam
Q: Since opening The Entrepreneurs Marketplace in the Wright Dunbar District in late 2019, you have opened two other businesses under your umbrella. What led you to open each of these businesses?
A: I own three stores. The first one is The Entrepreneurs Shoppe, which is a retail store with over 25 businesses. I have the Entrepreneurs Marketplace, which is a pop-up shop with eight small businesses. My last is The Entrepreneurs Connection, which is a small business retail store also and a classroom for education.
The retail stores in Wright Dunbar offer a storefront that helps entrepreneurs that aren’t ready to have their own storefront, but want to have their items on the shelves. They are designed for people that have a 9-to-5 job and want to get exposure for their business without having to be at the store. I opened it due to the need of helping entrepreneurs and also seeing Wright Dunbar was a food desert and wanting to bring food trucks for the community to have great food choices and give out free produce through the months.
I love seeing the reaction from the community and knowing that I’m making a difference. I love to see others inspired. I love to help them show the world what they can do.
My family is here, my city is here. I was born and raised here and it means a lot to me to see my city grow. I want to create all of the revenue I can for my hometown — I owe it to Dayton. Dayton is a city of love and I’m inspired by the future and what can happen next.
Art in the City returned in person to downtown Dayton on Saturday, August 7, 2021 after having been held as a virtual celebration in 2020. More than 300 artists participated in the event. Some of the many things to do included the Art in Architecture walk, the Arcade Festival to celebrate the public grand opening of The Arcade’s Rotunda which also featured vendors and food trucks on Fourth Street between Main and Ludlow Streets from Events by Tae Winston, Chalk the Block on Second Street, a massive street mural that attendees helped created with artist Boy Blue, an Artisan Market on Courthouse Square and so much more. Did we spot you there? TOM GILLIAM / CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Credit: Tom Gilliam
Credit: Tom Gilliam
Q: What are you most excited for in the future?
A: New endeavors and witnessing my small businesses continue to grow and move up.
I would love to be a landlord next, to be a place for businesses to land as they take the next step. I would employ a lot more people and open a women center for local entrepreneurs with a month of training to help reach their goals. In the future I see the stores franchising and mentoring businesses that are interested in their own store.
If I had a magic wand I would wave it and make us united. I’m seeing more diversity. I’m fighting for diversity, and I see more of us coming together. If we can put aside our differences and come together, we will be a powerhouse.
Q: You are very engaged with food trucks and food festivals in Dayton. How often are you offering food and organizing food festivals? What festivals and events do you have coming up this year?
A: My original vision was to bring food and food truck rallies to the west side of Dayton because we always had to travel for food trucks. The businesses did great and it continued from there.
The food truck schedule is Thursday through Saturday noon to 7 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.
The most consistent food trucks are Jamaican Joes, that sells tacos, taco bowls, and jerk mac and cheese or Morgans Catering that has salmon salad, flatbread pizzas, amazing wings and tacos also.
My next upcoming event will be a food truck rally is with Montgomery County on Sept. 18. It will be a mix of businesses and food trucks. The goal for this event is to give out resources for small businesses, help small businesses make extra money and offer amazing food.
I am also on the board and helping with Haunt Fest coming to the Oregon District (in October), which will be exciting. I did an amazing event in July in the Oregon District called Tae Takes Over Out On Fifth. There were 65 vendors, a few food trucks and the stores were open. The goal was to bring some light back to the District.
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