Dal Bookstore dedicates shelf space to African Nova Scotian entrepreneurs

Partnership shines a light on vibrant local businesses

- February 16, 2024

L-R: Martia Sparks, Tiffani Young, and Trevor Silver all have their products on display this month in the Dal Bookstore as part of the Homegrown Luminance initiative. (Provided photo)
L-R: Martia Sparks, Tiffani Young, and Trevor Silver all have their products on display this month in the Dal Bookstore as part of the Homegrown Luminance initiative. (Provided photo)

In 2022, Trevor Silver was invited to the Dal Bookstore with the idea of it being a potential retail space for his growing brand, tREv. The meeting sparked excitement, first bringing in the original Halifax t-shirt and later adding more tREv products to its offerings, including the exclusive tREv x Dal collaboration — a signature pattern of tREv and Dalhousie emblems interlaced on a collection of hats and crossbody bags (see below right).

Since partnering with tREv Clothing, further efforts have been made to discover other African Nova Scotian businesses with the idea of forming new partnerships, notably for African Heritage Month. 

Monique Thomas, director of African Nova Scotian Community Engagement, has been instrumental in connecting businesses to the Bookstore and sees power in the partnerships.

"By providing these businesses with a platform to reach a broader audience, the Bookstore can help boost their visibility and sales, thereby contributing to the economic prosperity of the community,” says Thomas. “Ultimately, these partnerships have the potential to create a more inclusive and vibrant campus environment while also making a tangible difference in the economic well-being of the African Nova Scotian community."

Charlene Lucas, Dal Bookstore customer service rep and an African Nova Scotian herself, agrees.

"Friends and family are always going to know about it and help spread the word, but that is not enough. Sometimes you need other avenues to share these kinds of things and get the word out there because representation matters."

The emphasis in Lucas’s voice is clear. Representation does matter.

So, when Katrina Ross, general merchandise manager, contacted the businesses recommended by Thomas, it resulted in two positive responses. Natural Butter Bar and Heart to Art by Martia were pleased to partner, emphasizing the significance of representation and underscoring the essence of what the Bookstore calls Homegrown Luminance, an initiative that aims to honour African Heritage Month and celebrate African Nova Scotian businesses and the people who drive them forward. 

These inspiring African Nova Scotians bring a light all their own.

Trevor Silver, tREv Clothing

Growing up in the vibrant community of North Preston — the largest Black community in Nova Scotia with the highest concentration of African Canadians in Canada —Silver was inspired by family members. Their hard work led him to uncover his own path, one that would change course several times.

Silver entered Dalhousie through the Transition Year Program, pursuing a history degree before switching to management with his sights set on law school. It was only after his acceptance to the Schulich School of Law and a summer job at a law firm that Silver decided the legal field wasn't for him. That’s when his focus shifted to what would soon become the catalyst for tREv, a sketch of a modified version of the scales of justice, representing the balance between love and money.

Since launching tREv (which stands for trust, Respect, Educate, value) in 2017, striking that balance has become the driving force behind tREv's popularity. This is due in no small part to Silver's commitment and mindful approach to his bold and stylish brand, resulting in him winning the Coast's Gold Award for Best Fashion Designer 2023. 

Browse tREv products at the Bookstore and explore the full line here.

Tiffani Young, Natural Butter Bar

It wasn't until her time at Saint Mary's University that Tiffani Young began to recognize and celebrate her uniqueness. This realization sparked the idea of Natural Butter Bar, a line of universal, plant-based skincare and haircare products created to inspire self-acceptance in everyone — regardless of skin or hair type.

Young recognized a gap in the market and seized the opportunity. With encouragement and support from the community, she launched Natural Butter Bar in December 2020, later winning the Halifax Chamber of Commerce New Business of the Year in 2022. 

Since then, the success of Natural Butter Bar is due in part to the motivation behind the idea: Everyone deserves to love and accept themselves. 

Browse Natural Butter Bar products at the Bookstore and explore the full line here.




Martia Sparks, Heart to Art by Martia

After recovering from a life-altering event, Martia Sparks turned her passion for crafting and knitting into a meaningful cause.

Months after giving birth to her son, Sparks became very sick and was admitted to the hospital with acute heart failure. After an emergency bypass, she received a heart transplant and further diagnosis confirmed she had Peripartum Cardiomyopathy (PPCM) — a condition that affects as many as 1 in 1,000 women per year in Canada. 

It's Sparks's profound gratitude for a second chance that has given her a new appreciation for time spent with family and friends and has been the motivation behind her Heart to Art toques — a pastime to help keep her hands busy during recovery. It’s sparked an even greater mission, with a portion of each sale going to the Heart & Stroke Foundation, helping to create awareness about PPCM and organ donation.

All hats are handmade with heart, made possible by Sparks's second chance.

Browse Heart to Art products in the Bookstore and explore the latest creations here.

Prodcuts on display in the Dal Bookstore in the Student Union Building in Halifax.


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