Katrina Parris: Entrepreneur Runs Boutique In Harlem That Sells Mostly Black Woman-Owned Brands

by Gee NY

Katrina Parris, a dedicated entrepreneur from the vibrant neighborhood of Harlem, is earning accolades for her dynamic boutique shop, NiLu.

Since its establishment in 2015, NiLu has been a hub for accessories, gifts, and home goods, predominantly showcasing brands owned by Black women.

Some of the remarkable brands featured include Sheila Bridges, Adjourn Teahouse, Harlem Candle Company, Lomar Farms, Healthmade, and Frederick Benjamin.

In an interview with Black Enterprise, Parris passionately shares her commitment to representing Harlem and its rich culture through international gifts, many of which are crafted by local artisans from the community and beyond.

She recalls a time when Harlem was, in her words, a “gift desert.” While raising a young family, Parris realized the challenges of finding quality gifts for birthdays and housewarmings outside of drug stores.

This inspired her to create a local space that not only offered quality merchandise but also celebrated the vibrant culture of Harlem.

The name NiLu holds a special meaning, as it’s a fusion of the names of Parris’ children, Nigel and Luke. Originally launched as a flower shop, Parris and her husband later decided to transform it into a boutique store that would truly represent the essence of Harlem.

On her LinkedIn profile, Parris describes herself as a creative entrepreneur with a deep passion for curating a collective of inspiring makers and artists for those who deeply appreciate the culture.

She aims to create a space that not only celebrates but also advocates for their community and welcomes everyone who shares the same spirit.

Parris’ journey into entrepreneurship was ignited by a personal loss—her mother’s passing at the age of 66. She reflects on the profound realization that “the true meaning of Life is Short” brought to her life, motivating her to pursue her dreams.

The entrepreneurial adventure began in a humble setting, with Parris launching her flower business in her compact apartment. Her dedication knew no bounds; she personally sourced, arranged, and delivered the flowers. The flower shop gained recognition and was featured in esteemed publications, including Oprah Winfrey’s eponymous magazine and New York Wedding.

However, the demanding nature of the flower business eventually took its toll, leading to burnout. In 2015, Parris and her family decided to sell their first business and embark on a new chapter by opening the NiLu boutique shop.

During this period, her two sons initiated their entrepreneurial journey, venturing into the sale of baked goods, old toys, books, and original artwork.

This gave rise to the original NiLu, reflecting the family’s commitment to offering something fresh to the neighborhood.

NiLu’s journey is far from over, with exciting plans for the future. In the upcoming holiday season, the boutique will host a self-care service featuring alternative healing and acupuncture.

Harlem Candle Company will also hold a fragrance trunk show at NiLu, promising even more delightful experiences for the community.

NiLu stands as a testament to Katrina Parris’ unwavering commitment to her community and her vision of celebrating culture and art through a unique boutique shopping experience in the heart of Harlem.

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