Katrina Parris, an entrepreneur in Harlem, is being praised for her vibrant boutique shop. Parris, who opened NiLu in 2015, sells accessories, gifts and home goods, which mostly represent Black woman-owned brands, including Sheila Bridges, Adjourn Teahouse, Harlem Candle Company, Lomar Farms, Healthmade and Frederick Benjamin.
“We love representing Harlem through international gifts, many from local makers in the community and beyond,” Parris said in an interview with Black Enterprise.
In a news release, she described Harlem as once being a “gift desert.”
“Raising a young family, and finding a place for gifts for birthdays or housewarmings outside the drug stores was hard,” she added in the same news release. “We needed a place that was local and had quality merchandise but represented the culture.”
The name of the store represents the names of Parris’ children, Nigel and Luke. Although the business initially opened as a flower shop, Parris and her husband later decided to shift to a boutique shop.
On her LinkedIn page, Parris describes herself as a creative entrepreneur who is “passionate about cultivating a collective of inspiring makers and artists for true lovers of the culture.” She adds that she provides “a space that celebrates us, advocates for us, and welcomes all who want to do the same.”
Parris said she became inspired to start a business after her mother died at the age of 66.
“The true meaning of Life is Short had brought clarity to my life,” Parris wrote on her business’ website.
The Harlem entrepreneur first started her flower business in her “tiny ass apartment.”
“There wasn’t anything I didn’t do; I bought the flowers, arranged the flowers and delivered the flowers,” she continued on her site.
The flower shop was featured in several popular publications, including Oprah Winfrey’s self-titled magazine and New York Wedding. Parris, however, said she needed to start a new chapter after getting burned out with the flower store. As a result, the family decided to sell their first business in 2015 and open up the boutique shop that same year.
“During that time, my two boys began their entrepreneurial journey and started selling a bake goods, old toys, books and original artwork; the original NiLu was born! And, they made real bank,” Parris shared on the site. “It was gratifying seeing their ingenuity at work, and furthered the idea of providing something new to the neighborhood.”
Parris’ business still has big plans ahead. During the holiday season, NiLu will host a self-care service that will include alternative healing and acupuncture. Harlem Candle Company will also hold a fragrance trunk show at NiLu in the coming days.