Inspire Dayton: Tae Winston is a small business opportunity-maker

Many small businesses have been stuck in survival mode since the coronavirus became a pandemic. But one local entrepreneur is bucking the trend, as she grows and expands her business.

When Tae Winston celebrates the one-year anniversary of her first brick-and-mortar business on Tuesday, she will mark the occasion by announcing the location of her newest venture ― a downtown store focused on entrepreneur education and retail offerings.

Winston’s two shops in the Historic Wright Dunbar Business District have helped reinvigorate the commercial corridor. They have also benefitted more than 100 small businesses and entrepreneurs whose goods and products have filled her shelves.

Multiple people say Winston is inspirational and has supported and created countless opportunities for local makers, artists and entrepreneurs while also giving back to the community in deeply meaningful ways, such as providing free meals.

“One of the greatest things about her is that she is always lifting someone up,” said Erica Hubler, director of real estate and property management with Wright Dunbar Inc. “That’s why she will always win, because she’s always thinking of others.”

During this challenging year, Daytonians have persevered and helped one another out. Throughout the month of December, the Dayton Daily News is telling the stories of individuals who have inspired others, a series called Inspire Dayton.

ExploreFashion truck owner launches ‘marketplace’ in Wright Dunbar

Winston opened The Entrepreneurs Marketplace on Dec. 15, 2019, just a few months before the coronavirus crisis started to spiral out of control.

The marketplace, at 13 N. Williams St., is a pop-up shop that sells goods and products from eight different small businesses and entrepreneurs every week.

The business was an instant success. Some of its popularity stems from Winston’s decision to have rotating food trucks parked outside, making it a culinary and shopping destination.

Emboldened by the positive response to the marketplace, Winston opened a new business right around the corner ― The Entrepreneurs Shoppe, at 1109 W. Third St.

The Entrepreneurs Shoppe launched at the end of May, still early in the pandemic, when many businesses were closed or cutting back.

Winston, 34, worked as a mental health case manager for nine years.

But she wasn’t happy. She wanted to pursue her real interests and have more time to spend with her 10-year-old son, Chace, who has autism.

“God gave me the vision that this is what I’m supposed to be doing,” she said. “I wanted to make a career out of it, so that way I could be a good mom to my son and have more time with him in therapy.”

The pop-up marketplace and the shoppe sell clothing, handmade soap, skincare, candy, hats, baby apparel, jewelry, lip gloss, beard oil, art, perfume, candles, fashion accessories and plenty else.

More than 100 small businesses have put items on display at the marketplace, and about 22 entrepreneurs have goods featured at the West Third Street shop.

The shoppe’s vendors are supposed to change every month. But because they have done so well, most of the original vendors remain.

Winston said it brings her great joy to help small businesses like craft makers, artists and food truck operators. She said she wanted to be a major part of Wright Dunbar’s resurgence.

“I just love entrepreneurship and giving people exposure ― a lot of people don’t get the platform they deserve,” she said.

Winston next plans to open a new downtown shop, The Entrepreneurs Connection, early next year. She plans to reveal its location on Tuesday. It will host classes and help with develop small business development.

She also has organized very popular food truck rallies, called Fashion Meets Food.

Winston said she believes she’s been successful in a tough business climate because she believes in treating people well and has created a unique shopping experience.

She opened second store in Wright Dunbar just months after opening the first ― and during a challenging global pandemic ― because she felt that many small businesses depended on her, said Hubler with Wright Dunbar Inc.

Winston is generous and has helped provide numerous free farmers markets and free meals on Easter and Thanksgiving, Hubler said.

Winston and her vendors helped serve hot meals to about 2,000 people at a banquet center for Thanksgiving. On Easter, Winston helped feed more than 200 people out of the marketplace.

Hubler said Winston has an incredible drive and mindset ― “she has this energy about her that is undeniable.”

Winston has provided a much-needed spark to the Wright Dunbar Business District, and she has proven she cares deeply about the community, said Jeff Jackson, president of the Wright Dunbar Village Neighborhood Association.

“Tae’s positive spirit and energy is exactly what Dayton needs right now,” he said.

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