COLUMBIA - The owners of a new shop in downtown Columbia banded together to be the change they wanted to see.
On Saturday night, Marquise White and Curtis Taylor Jr. officially opened their very own store, The Greens Columbia. White is a student at MU and Taylor is a graduate.
“We wanted to really be a part of this community, be a part of the change that’s happening here and to know it was Mizzou students who did it,” Taylor said.
White said neither had owned a business before.
“We’ve never dwelled in entrepreneurship before. So it was a big learning curve for the both of us," he said. "With each and every step, we kept trucking, we figured things out."
He said he and Taylor didn't let lack of experience hold them back.
”We were willing to do everything that it took to get this space open. Not only for us, but for the Columbia community,” he said.
The Greens Co. is a clothing retail store from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., however it serves multiple purposes.
Taylor said, “Primarily we sell clothes, but we also do art curation. So you might see a gallery showing, you might also see a game week where we just have people popping in and out of the space just to play nostalgia games. Or you might see, you know what I’m saying, a runway show."
White said they purposely created a space where the customer can see something different every time.
"Every week, we’ll be moving and shaking something, so when they come and experience it again, it’s a whole new look on what they think of the brand, what they think of the store and what they think of just curation and fashion and creativity as a whole,” he said.
Taylor said several things inspired him to create the store with White.
"Being a student here, wanting to be a creative and really not having that outlet, right? To like really be able to channel who you are. To be able to dress however you want to dress,” he said.
White said they set out to make the store feel like home.
“It was times when we really felt like, as creatives, there was nowhere to go in Columbia. Or not even that it was nowhere to go, somewhere that we really felt like we could call home and really imprint on. And that’s what we want The Greens to be for everyone,” he said.
Aliyah Hill, who attended the store opening, said, “We need to support local artist, creatives, musicians, whoever it may be and whoever has that creative mindset. I feel like a lot of times they get left behind because a lot of people don’t pay attention to them.”
Taylor and White said they also wanted to create a safe space.
“There was a lot of pain here, as a student. I experienced a lot. We all have and so instead of just not being a part of it and just talking about it, we decided to be active,” Taylor said.
Hill said it's an important addition to the community.
“Here in Columbia, with it being a black owned business in the middle of Missouri, I think it’s really good to have and be supportive of one another,” she said.
The co-owners said they wanted to give people a place to come and relax.
“We want it to be somewhere where people can literally shake off the stresses that is college. Shake off the stresses that is Columbia and be around people who genuinely want to see better for everyone,” White said.
Hill said she's never seen something of this sort in Columbia, or anywhere.
“The Greens Co. is more of a supportive space and I think that is needed in this time,” she said.
The owners said they were inspired by stores like Muse, a clothing store on Ninth St. owned by former MU student, Nickie Davis. They also said they want their store to be a starting point and platform for artist and creatives.
“We want to be able to say like we were a part of other people’s start and they can say ‘I remember my first show was in The Greens,'” Taylor said. “No matter who you are, you have a dream, go after it. And this space is really to be an incubator and a launchpad for other to people to be like ‘yo teach us your ways.’”
White said, “We’re here for the community.”
Taylor said, “The Greens, we planted. And we here to work.”
Upcoming events are listed on The Greens Co. Instagram account.