It’s obvious that art is a big part of the setting at the Hotel Zena off of Thomas Circle in NW DC – it’s as much a gallery as it is a hotel.

“The theme of the hotel is about female empowerment, but it really goes beyond that. It’s about community, it’s about inclusiveness and it’s about equity all together,” Sherry Abedi, the general manager, said.

And this Saturday, all of those themes converged to make one event come together: Black Her-Story Makers Market put 20 local artists and artisans front and center.

The story is in the stones of Kadeeja Honesty’s work. At first the creations were therapeutic, helping through tough times.

Now, the market helps grow what has turned into a burgeoning online business, Soultry, which sells skincare products and handmade jewelry.

“It’s awesome to also build community with other local businesses, Black-woman owned businesses,” Honesty said.

For Alicia Abbington, her dream was to own a boutique, stocking the needs of clothing a son that weren’t met by the marketplace, hence the name.

“Our store is called Garçon Mélaniné & Co. It stands for melanated boy,” she said. “I was like, let me mate [my son] into my store, and it’s worked out perfectly for me.”

And while the pandemic took a toll on businesses, for more than a few of those represented on Saturday, COVID-19 was the catalyst.

“We started last year in the middle of the pandemic like everybody else was,” Annie Carter, of Blacknerd Coffee, said.

The local coffee business began with a couple’s quest for the ideal cup of coffee.

“We started doing it together and loving it, and we were like, well if we love it, other folks will love it, too. And that’s how Blacknerd Coffee came about,” Carter said.

Born out of the pandemic and fittingly, being part of the emergence from it, there was another theme present at the event.

“Things are looking brighter. They’re moving in the right direction. We’re seeing bookings further out, and people are really looking to get out,” Abedi said.