MILWAUKEE — A Wisconsin-based grocery store is working to continue its mission of diversity amongst its shelves.

Throughout the shelves of Outpost Natural Foods Co-op stores across Wisconsin, you can find around 40 different products from businesses of color. Over this past year, Outpost has added around 10 new Black businesses to its line of products.

One of those businesses is Blossom Candle Co. out of Milwaukee. Since 2016, Shiquita Mann, owner of Blossom Candle Co. has been operating her candle business out of her basement. It’s a passion of hers to create candles with meaning.

“Blossom really takes practice in intentional living. So it’s all about intentional living, having words of affirmation, words that lift the mind body and spirit,” Blossom Candle Co. owner Shiquita Mann says.

Between the wicks, scents, wax, and all that goes into perfecting the perfect candle it can be a lot of work, but it’s a job she loves. Her hard work is now being noticed because her Blossom Candle Co. candles are now found inside Outpost Natural Foods Co-op grocery stores across Wisconsin.

“It took me a day to respond because I was in such disbelief that this was happening," Mann says. "For this to take place it was surreal."

Outpost carries many products from businesses of color, but after this past year with a pandemic and social unrest they decided to further their mission and bring in some more local Black owned businesses.

“To bring people in from out community and showcase the talent and the creativity that is already here and certainly with our vendors of color, it’s a really fun way and a satisfying way to show that there is so much our community has to offer. And if we can be that catalyst for positive change  in our community, then we are all for it,” Outpost Natural Foods Co-op director of community relations Margaret Mittelstadt says.

The company is now adding around 10 more Milwaukee based local Black-owned businesses to their stores. It’s an inspiration to business owners like Mann who have been working so hard to get into a store like this.

“To know that there is opportunity and the stigma that is out there about Black-owned businesses we can overcome that. We can go past that and not allow the stigma and the comments limit you to really blossom,” Mann says.

It’s a new opportunity to create diversity and expand options for customers to shop local and enjoy some new products from their neighbors.