These black women business owners are making their mark in downtown Durham

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Downtown Durham has a handful of black-women-owned businesses -- with two more just opening.

Megan George and Morgan Siegel are two women making their marks at the corner of Market and Chapel Hill streets near the Bull in downtown Durham.

George owns The Zen Succulent, a modern terrarium, plant and gift shop.

Next door, Siegel is the owner of Jeddah's Tea, a tearoom specializing in organic, vegan-friendly teas from around the world.

"It's powerful to be right beside somebody who is also like myself. African-American business owner, female, doing something for her family -- just as I'm doing for mine," George said of Siegel.

Siegel was equally complimentary.

"We have such synergy between our companies," Siegel said. "Her aesthetic is so gorgeous and beautiful and full and bright and green -- and mine is a little more grandma's house."

The two friends are part of what researchers say is a national surge of black women owning businesses.

The 2018 State of Women-Owned Businesses report showed a 164 percent growth since 2007.

George and Siegel say black women often feel put in a box and not given the same opportunities to succeed. But they say programs and resources offered by the City of Durham, Self-Help and Downtown Durham Inc., have helped.

"Gentrification is real, and black businesses do get pushed out. But I think there are people in places of decision-making that are trying to bring black business back to the forefront," Siegel said.

"I don't think we could have done this or in this way, this quickly without that additional hand down for us," George said.

Their message to black women aspiring to be entrepreneurs: Overcome whatever fears you have and turn your passion and side-hustle into your 9-to-5.

"Don't be afraid to share that idea," George said.

She noted that aspiring entrepreneurs may fear their ideas may get taken and used. But she said that shouldn't hold them back.

"Share. Because that's how you filter your designs to your particular shop and your needs," she said.

Siegel said to follow and develop your gift.

"We each have something special to offer the world and I really encourage girls and young women to challenge that notion," Siegel stated. "I encourage my daughter who started her candle company. To really explore what she wants to do -- what makes her happy. If you can do what makes you happy to make a living you'll never be poor."
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