Just incase you missed the first part of our Black History Month blog series, please go back to read Part 1. In the last blog, we learned the origins of Black History Month and heard from our first interviewee, T’wina Nobles, President of the Tacoma Urban League and our recently sworn in 28th District Senator of Washington State.
The next Tacoma Black Leader we are interviewing is a pioneer in the Tacoma streetwear scene as well as the Tacoma community at large!
Meet Umi Wagoner, Co-Owner of ETC and Founder of Umi’s Corner (provider of all the swag you could possibly want out here in Tacoma ;)). He shares about Black Leaders who have inspired him, his dreams, goals and pointers that has helped him along his journey.
Question 1: Does this month mean anything to you? If so, what type of inspiration do you draw from this month? If not, why?
Answer: This month means a ton to me and has only become more meaningful over the years. As I get older I feel closer to my ancestors and there has been greater comprehension, on my part, about the weight of the sacrifices made throughout time. Understanding their actions almost forces me to think about how to use my skills, my God given natural talents to continue their work. I’m always learning from and about my history and paying close attention to those I believe are making history right now but this month is about a hyper focus and bumping into names I did not know.
Question 2: Which black leaders do you especially look up to and draw inspiration from at the national and international level?
Answer: Most of the black leaders I look up to are business owners in my community but I do have few on a national and international level. Chris Jordan is a big deal to me. He’s already made history in Tacoma more than once.
On a national level, watching the owner of 10Deep from afar has been inspiring my whole life. Almost too cool to touch for me, figuratively speaking. And the owners of Patta. I had the pleasure to share the same room with those dudes like a fly on the wall and fueled me for a whole year.
Question 3: Who are some prominent black leaders in Tacoma that you support and vibe with? Why? This can be people you know personally or support from a far.
Answer: I have to speak on our shop manager Dazjon Johnson, this man is working wonders in Tacoma. He is really activating businesses and drawing awareness to forward marketing.
Korey Strozier and Kiara Daniels are two names any Tacoman should be paying attention to and supporting fully with their words and actions and pocket books. They have the vision to change Tacoma should we help give them the ability.
Question 4: What were some struggles you faced along your path? Struggles that you both anticipated and haven’t anticipated.
Answer: My hair has always been an issue, it scares people. It’s hilarious cause I’m considered overly friendly.
Question 5: What do you think is your purpose? What plans do you have in place to fulfill it? Any sort of personal testimonial that can be utilized as advice and guidance to the reader is solid here.
Answer: I live my purpose everyday. My purpose is to help slowly change the landscape of Tacoma style and fashion/art culture and the shopping experience of that. Tacoma will one day have stores outside of the mall reminiscent of Dover Street and Mario’s. Trust your gut and if you are youth reading this PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE start early!! All that means is to start today. Not tomorrow. You’ll work out every single kink you can think of and the ones you couldn’t think of over time and become an expert IF you find that it is truly your passion and purpose.
Umi’s accomplishments and words of inspiration drive home the idea that in order to seek inspiration from our community and individuals to help advance our passions and purpose in life, we need to be in tune with ourselves. Self-knowledge coupled with intellectual curiosity about our passions and purpose is a clear path to maximizing our experience in this lifetime.
Stay tuned for our third and last interview in Part 3 of the Black Leaders of Tacoma blog series with Tacoma’s very own Deputy Mayor Keith Blocker!