With Anika Hobbs at the helm, Nubian Hueman has curated an array of unique Diasporic goods, fashion, and art for nearly a decade, earning its spot among the major draws of the Anacostia Arts Center, located on Good Hope Road in Southeast near the 11th Street Bridge.
Hobbs, Nubian Hueman’s owner, and lead curator has since expanded her portfolio, taking her talents to the Equitable Development Team of the 11th Street Bridge Project and the Anacostia Business Improvement District’s newly formed Arts, Culture, and Entertainment Council.
She said those roles better allow her to help other creatives and boost Anacostia’s profile as a cultural incubator.
“I want us to build a Black economy. Nubian Hueman has been a prime example of how this can be,” said Hobbs.
Nubian Hueman, open Tuesday through Sunday, operates in the Historic Anacostia community. Its presence predates Chase Bank recently opened on Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue and Starbucks and Busboys & Poets, also soon to enjoy the distinction of being in a neighborhood that has caught the eyes of developers and transplants in recent years.
That’s why Hobbs expressed a desire to build with Black entrepreneurs and expand business opportunities in what’s known as the last frontier for Black people in D.C. “We can buy from Black businesses, and they hire Black people,” she said. “We have a small ecosystem but want to develop it and make it bigger. At this point, a lot of it is about coming together in ways we’re not used to. It’s about the greater good.”
In 2013, Hobbs, hailing from Boston, opened Nubian Hueman around the corner from Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, also known as D.C.’s last Black Wall Street. Three years prior, she first entered the Anacostia Arts Center as a jewelry vendor in a store named Luminate. In a twist of fate, Hobbs launched her full-scale business in that very storefront.
]Nubian Hueman has since served as a hub for ethnically rich wares and culturally fulfilling events. One recent gathering, dubbed “Let’s Hear It from the Boys,” opened the floor for discussion about masculinity in the #MeToo era. The 2019 Black Love Experience, expected to bring thousands of creatives to THEARC in March, followed years of jammed-packed crowds in the main lobby of the Anacostia Arts Center.
This year’s performing acts — including Junkyard Band, Black Alley, Diamond District, Mumu Fresh– will continue where Sa-Roc, Jabari Exum, Farafina Khan, and others left audiences in 2018. The 11th Street Bridge Project counts among the sponsors of the event. Hobbs said the Black Love Experience, not to be confused with Black L.U.V. Festival, received an endorsement from Kymone Freeman, the We Act Radio co-owner, and Hobbs’ neighbor on Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, years ago.
“I came to D.C. for the Black L.U.V. Fest [once]. Kymone gave me the blessing as long as we keep the love going,” Hobbs said as she reflected on her status as an entrepreneur in a burgeoning business district in a majority-Black part of the District.
“This being the last Black Wall Street is a blessing and curse,” she continued. “When I do feel like giving up, the people are a lifeline. It’s not the money, but the people coming by and sharing what the store does to them,” that keeps her encouraged.