COVINGTON, Ky. — The Kenton County Public Library in Covington hosted a Black-Owned Business Expo, hoping to help local business owners share their art and other products. 

What You Need To Know

  • In February, Black History Month is celebrated

  • The Kenton County Public Library hosted a business expo to highlight businesses of color

  • Marshelle Blackwell is the owner of Soul Mission, which promotes positive mental well-being

  • More than a dozen businesses sold goods such as art, food, clothing and body products

When Kentucky native Marshelle Blackwell isn’t working at different pop-up shops, she’s educating Kentucky’s youth.

"I have been an educator since 2011 here in Kentucky, and I have seen a lot of things," she said. 

Soul Mission was founded in 2021, and it promotes positive mental well-being. She said after seeing her students lack concentration when returning to in-person classes post-COVID-19, she knew she had to help.

"Just think about it for a second," she said. "We are asking students who have been in front of a screen for many years, who started their education in kindergarten just looking at a screen, to now come in, comply with everything the teacher says.”

At the Black-Owned Business Expo, Blackwell was joined by dozens of other local business owners to sell their products. At her table, she sold many items, including stickers promoting mental wellness and stem toys.

"We have this sensory tool ... it just means different signals to the brain to tell it, 'I can calm down, it's OK, refocus that brain,'” she said. 

Library programming coordinator Kari Jones enjoyed many of the vendors' tables and said seeing everyone come and support it is why the library hosts events like this.

"We just want to support local Black-owned businesses this month and invite them out to sell their products and their services ... and it looks like we're having a great turnout," she said. 

Blackwell said she wants people to know it’s OK to need help to recenter themselves.

"We've just got to get the right tools for the right people, and they can thrive," she said. 

As the business grows, Blackwell added she's aiming to reach diverse communities and destigmatize neurodiversity.