Minority-owned businesses work together

Designers collaborate on chair project, give back to community.

The American Dream has a different definition depending on where a person comes from. For one local business owner from Mumbai, India, that definition includes giving back to the community.

Mark Williams, president, CEO and owner of Elements IV Interior, recently partnered with another minority-owned business Yetunde Rodriguez Design Studio. After seeing some of her designs on Instagram, Williams knew that he had to reach out to her.

“I really loved how authentically proud they [designs] reflected Yetunde’s upbringing growing up in Nigeria,” he said.

Elements IV Interior has been serving Dayton since 1990. According to Williams, the company has evolved from a small furniture installation company to a full-service office furniture distributor and service company.

The two businesses collaborated on an Indian- and African-inspired textile project. The combined creative inspirations turned into a custom textile produced through Rodriguez’s studio that was then applied to a Haworth Zody office chair from Elements IV Interior. According to Williams, these partnerships are beneficial for the community.

“Being a minority-owned company can be lonely, and storytelling around that upbringing can be challenging,” he said. “ … Overall, we think it will be inspiring to other minority entrepreneurs looking to grow creative companies in Dayton.”

During the endeavor, Williams and Rodriguez were able to reminisce about their heritages and connect them. Williams immigrated from Mumbai, India, to New Bremen, which he said was quite an adjustment to make. After working with various manufacturers and distribution companies in the Midwest, Williams was able to move up and eventually be the 100% owner of Elements IV Interiors in 2012.

“We have been proud our company roots started in Dayton in 1990 and look forward to continuing serving this wonderful region. Our biggest excitement is the growth we have been seeing in Dayton, and the diverse projects occurring,” Williams said.

Williams said that owning his company is also a part of what he considers the American Dream. He said that living in a country where one is truly free and can be whatever they want to be is another aspect of his American Dream.

“Beginning a career in an entry-level position and growing to be a leader within my organization, to ultimately owning and leading my own company. Raising a family, buying a home, and having the ability to give back. This is the greatest, safest, and most open country on earth, and we should be proud of how we continue to grow,” he said.

Giving back to the community is something that Williams believes in. The chair created through the partnership was gifted to Rodriguez’s studio. However, the textile will be applied to pillows and other merchandise to be sold through Rodriguez’s studio. A percentage of the proceeds will go to a local minority-owned charity. Williams said that there are many things people can do to support minority-owned businesses.

“Walk the talk. Being local and minority-owned is our company’s authentic identity,” he said. “Other businesses and individuals rallying together to create a momentum of supporting local and minority-owned businesses is incredibly important to the business ecosystem.”

While this was the first partnership of this kind for Elements IV Interior, it will not be the last. Williams said that this project is just a jumping-off point, and he looks forward to celebrating more diversity, equity and inclusion through collaboration.

Visit Elements IV Interior at www.elementsiv.com. Yetunde Rodriguez Design Studio can be reached by visiting www.yetunderodriguez.com.

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