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Shauntrice Martin is owner of Black Market KY.

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2021 Most Admired Woman — Business Owner

Owner, Black Market KY
Family: Son, Iniejah
Neighborhood: Parkland

Most people don’t launch a grocery store with the intent of giving it away, but most people aren’t Shauntrice Martin. She helped launch the nonprofit Feed the West with Taylor Ryan after Kroger shut down its West End store in the summer of 2020 following downtown protests. She then opened Black Market KY all while continuing to do her full-time job as a lobbyist for Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. Shauntrice knows from personal experience how access to fresh or minimally processed food options can make a difference in how people feel and live.

What led you to become interested in food justice?

I was born and raised in the West End. My family was always really close. My mother raised us by herself, but my grandmother and my great-grandparents were in the house. Eventually, we moved to the Cotter Homes Projects and the Shepherd Square Projects. I spent half my time there and half my time in the West End. My great-grandmother had a garden so she would pick greens and tomatoes. When I was with her, I was getting fresher food. When we were home with my mom, we had a lot of processed stuff. She was a janitor and worked crazy hours on top of taking care of us. I got to see two different sides.

What is your goal for Black Market KY?

I would like to donate the store by the end of the year. It’s easier for them accounting wise to start out January 1. We don’t have any debt, but I want them to be in the best possible position to succeed. I think we’re on our way to being sustainable. All the staff members are part-time right now, but I would like that same team to stay there. I want there to still be a social justice focus. I’m going to donate it to a West End resident who makes less than $50,000 a year who has volunteered with the program at some point.

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Who are women in your life who have inspired you?

My great-grandmother [Willie B Wells], grandmother [Gladys Wells] and mother [Shauntee Wells] — all three. Loretta Harris, who used to do the news here, and my third grade teacher, Ms. Winstead. Those five women were my foundation for how I want to be.

What are skills you developed in your life that help you now?

I did policy debate competitively in college for a couple years. Tiffany Dillard-Knox, who was my debate coach, was really the one who helped me transfer those skills. The grants I’ve written, the presentations and pitches I’ve made [have] all been from me being able to articulate my point, have evidence, have a balanced conversation. All the skills I learned in debate that helped me win are also helping me on projects I’m working on now.

On average how much sleep do you get?

About four-and-a-half hours a night. Not a great practice. I sleep more on the weekends if it’s not election season or legislative session.

What grocery item do you consider a special treat?

We don’t have them at any of the stores I’ve been to. My favorite thing is seaweed crisps with pumpkin seeds in them. It’s from a company called Seapoint Farms. I can only buy them online. That is my favorite thing. I will sit and eat three bags while watching anime.

What is your best and worst habit?

My best habit is definitely apologizing. When people are really upset, I’ve found that an apology can diffuse it. My worst habit is being too ambitious or romanticizing the future.

What is your ideal way to relax after a long day?

To work out. Boxing and Tai Chi are my ways to relax. I’m able to center myself.

What three things can you not live without?

Any Google app is essential for me especially when I’m on the go. The second thing is sparkling water; I feel like the person I was meant to be when I have sparkling water. The last thing is not an item. I cherish the times at night when my son and I brush our teeth together, do a sleepy story and our prayers, and talk about our day.

P.S. Purchase your tickets for the revamped Most Admired Woman event, being held at The Gillespie. Be a part of history as former Today’s Woman owners Cathy Zion and Anita Oldham pass the baton to new owner Tawana Bain. You won’t want to miss this night of sisterhood!

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