The Student News Site of Agua Fria High School

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The Student News Site of Agua Fria High School

OwlFeed

The Student News Site of Agua Fria High School

OwlFeed

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Aaron Esquer
Lifestyle Reporter

New to the high school environment, Aaron Esquer’s first year here at Agua Fria is quite an experience and a huge change for this freshman. From being online in middle school to now finally learning...

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Carolina Garcia
Opinion Columnist

Carolina Garica is a 15-year-old freshman who is a first year opinion reporter at Owl Feed! She was born on January 17th, 2008. Carolina had first joined journalism because she likes to write. She enjoys...

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Black Owned in AZ

Photo+Credit%3A+Linwood+Gaskins+%28shaka%29%0A
Photo Credit: Linwood Gaskins (shaka)

In February, we honor, remember, mourn, and celebrate black legacy, black lives, and black success. Let’s take a deeper dive into specifically what is black-owned.

Black Owned can be defined as companies or organizations that are at least 51% operated or controlled by one or more black Americans.The term Black Owned has recently become popular in 2021 however black-owned businesses (that have been recorded)have been around for over a century dating back to 1865.

Across the United States of America, the amount of BOB(Black-owned businesses) is beyond notable.The same can be said for Arizona individually.In an article featured on AZCentral  by Raphael Romero Ruiz,  he says “Approximately 1,200 Black-owned businesses around Arizona have been identified, most of which can be found using a database created by the community organization Blax Friday.

One of the relatively well-known businesses in Arizona is the hat company, Straw and Wool.The company’s store is located at 610 E Roosevelt St UNIT 144, Phoenix, AZ 85004.The main building is open from ten in the morning to seven in the evening all days aside from Sunday closing around five in the evening instead.The Straw and Wool fashion company was founded exactly four years ago in February 2020.

The founders of Straw and Wool Ali Nervis and Henry Dickenson faced intense tribulation following the outbreak of the pandemic.The company opened weeks before COVID-19 began to spread rapidly.However they did not let this stop them.According to an article by Ameema Ahmed featured on Arizona Highways, they persevered.” The article states they made the most of their time off. ‘We went into emergency mode and planning mode,’ Nervis says. ‘We started doing social media and building our website.’ It paid off. Spreading the word about their business helped Straw & Wool establish a strong customer base that supported them once they opened for business again in July 2020.”

Hats from Straw and Wool are designed by fifteen to twenty different brands and come in a variety of colors making them unique.The hats that the company primarily focuses on a set category of hats such as , according to an article on Arizona Highways “fedoras and flat caps (or newsboys).Straw and Wool have created an opportunity for those who want to know and understand thor fashion better in an Article on arizona highways “When we started this business, we expected hat wearers,” Dickerson says. “But what we found was, the majority of people we ended up getting were first-timers — people who had never worn hats before and wanted to know what would work with their style.”Straw and wool is apart of the many notable Black Owned businesses in Arizona 

Another lesser-known Black-Owned and founded business is the G.A.S.K.I.N.S Charity. Every letter in the CEO’s last name is  part of a clever and original acronym: God, Always, Shows, Kindness, In, Needed, Situations.Janeen Gaskins; GASKINS’s   Charity CEO began her non-profit business in the throws of the Covid nineteen pandemic and began taking on clients shortly after the coronavirus died down.

The GASKINS Charities said on their thorough website  “a small 501(c)(3)(non profit) that provides low to moderate income, elderly, disabled, and qualifying veterans with technology and mechanical residential integration for the purpose of improving their quality of life.”

Shaka (Linwood Gaskins) is the Secretary/COO of the non profit and Also Janeen Gaskins’s Husband.Both Janeen and Shaka strive to improve the quality of life for those less fortunate by transforming their homes into more technologically advanced spaces.

When beginning her business Janeen says she didn’t realize how many other Black Owned businesses were on the rise especially here in Arizona. Mrs Gaskins has already reached a variety of significant milestones regarding her Non profit business.For instance Janeen has officially begun a non-profit organization,received two funded grants,as well as the exciting fact that Janeen and Shaka have completed ten separate jobs with a 98% satisfaction rate from customers.

Janeen says the hardest part of being a black business owner is the apparent disconnect she tends to have with those that are not POC(people of color) in important meetings.Janeen expressed “sometimes it can be difficult to communicate due to cultural nuances for example: when I am only black person in big meetings building rapport it is far more difficult to relate”.

When asked what Mrs Gaskins Favorite part of being specifically a Black Business Owner   she responded and exclaimed “I enjoy leading the way for other black businesses i’m delighted that i can be a light to others”.Janeen continues to help families today 

Black Owned businesses In Arizona grow everyday. Support similar businesses  here !

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About the Contributor
Melea Gaskins, News Reporter
If you are in search of a kind, energetic, charismatic, positive, and welcoming person, look no further than Mel. Mel is a junior who has spread her positive energy at Agua Fria for the past three years. Mel is also an Agua Fria cheerleader and loves that she is able to bring some cheer and spirit to our campus! She can be seen cheering at games, being the epitome of school spirit, and doing her part for the community through the JROTC program at school. Mel’s passions lie with the Agua Fria ROTC and has been working towards her dream of becoming a Traveling Journalist with an Officer rank in the U.S. Military. Mel dreams of combining the two by using her ROTC background to get up close and personal to the action and give the people accurate information. Mel came to Agua Fria with the intent of joining the JROTC program to help make her dreams come true. Mel is no stranger to dreams and knows what motivation she needs. Mel is motivated by her thoughts on her future and what she wants to achieve. She says “If I can see myself there, I can get myself there, I want to be there.” She understands the discipline it will take to get where she wants to be and the challenges that may arise, but that won’t stop her!  Cheerleading is another thing that sets Mel apart, here at Agua Fria. Mel joined freshman year right out of middle school. She tried out with the encouragement of friends and family and worked hard to make the JV team. Her nerves about the competitions and her skills slowly melted away as she became part of the team and happiness ensued. The adrenaline rushes, crowd response, and helping school spirit to spread makes it all worth it to Mel.  Some of the highlights of cheering have been the cheer camps in the summer when they learn stunts, and routines and the comradery of the team expands.  As much as she loves Agua Fria and enjoys her time at school, Mel firmly believes that summer is the best time of year. Nothing competes with the heat (even in Arizona), the freedom from homework, being with friends, swimming and her birthday all blend together to create the perfect season, in Mel’s opinion.  Nevertheless, Mel has high hopes for the current school year and even higher school spirit. 

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