American Faces #87 - The Dream
American Faces No. 87
The Northside of Minneapolis is a community-rich place, and people like Markella Smith of the Dream Shop are what make it great. Markella is a shining beacon in her community. The passion she has for the North Side is palpable. You see emotion well up in her eyes as she talks about her youth and what community meant to her back then, and what it means to her now as she raises her three sons. You hear her drive for the community as she speaks about the Dream Shop. This shop literally was a dream for Markella, an entrepreneur at her very core. She wanted a place where she could sell the jewelry she made and provide a place for other entrepreneurs like herself to share their own offerings.
This woman is an absolute ray of light. Through The Dream Shop, Markella provides space for Open Mic nights, game nights and many other events that help build community and offer a place for folks to belong. Markella’s smile projects hope and joy to anyone visiting her shop. Her friendly service welcomes customers the moment they open the door into her bright, well lit and inviting space. Her passion for employing people from her North Minneapolis community challenged me to ask myself, “How am I engaging my own community with my business?”
Markella and I sat on couches just inside her wonderful store and we shared life. Our worlds might be different – I live 30 miles west of Minneapolis on a 7 acre hobby farm, but when those differences are set aside, we each have struggles and joys, and we remain united by our common humanity.
Markella left home at 15 and found herself on a road through life filled with hardship, an abusive marriage and other challenges that can make life hard. Through all of that, she rose from the challenges of her past to become who she is today: a mom who loves her boys like crazy, cherishes the time she has with her dad and a woman who strives to make the Northside of Minneapolis a brighter place.
Markella told me it was community that helped build the Dream Shop and it’s her passion that the Dream Shop can help build community.
I usually like to close my posts with some words encouraging my readers to take some kind of action. So, here it is: Get yourself out of your comfort zone. Meet someone new, outside of your own community. You could even visit Markella at her shop at 3701 Freemont Avenue N. in Minneapolis.. You need her smile, and she needs yours. Heck, she might even give you a hug. If you're feeling especially bold, go for Open Mic night!
Photos/Story by: Nielsen Studios
Editing by: Scott Whitman