Family, friends and neighbors gathered Saturday morning in Bed-Stuy for the grand opening celebration of On Dekalb, a new wellness cafe on Dekalb Avenue.
The new business is an expansion of the BK Yoga Club, a body-positive yoga studio founded by friends Alicia Ferguson and Paris Alexandra. The pair met in 2018 at a yoga teacher training, where they noticed they were two of only three people of color; the next year they founded a yoga studio of their own in DUMBO.
The idea of opening a coffee shop came out of chats after their yoga classes. "We like to talk a lot," Alexandra told BK Reader.
"After our yoga classes in DUMBO where we previously worked, we would be sitting for an hour after class and literally talking to everybody." She said the idea behind the cafe was to "keep the conversation going."
"We always kind of wanted a coffee shop because that brings people together."
Alexandra calls the cafe, "a place where it could be your home away from home, and even when you're not practicing yoga, you can still come in and you could still be a part of the community."
Saturday's event was a party for all ages, complete with a live DJ, food and drink vendors, and even bouncy houses for kids. Things kicked off around 11:00am with a yoga class in the street, followed by a ribbon cutting around 3:00pm.
"Everything that you see around here was really intentionally designed to make it feel that you are entering an atmosphere where you could take a deep breath and just have a moment of pause," Ferguson said of the shop.
In addition to offering classic hot and iced coffee options, the cafe serves non-traditional options like non-caffeinated mushroom blends and CBD-infused coffees. "The ingredients that we're using, we were really mindful in how we sourced them."
All of the shop's coffee is organic and sourced from Black and Brown owned suppliers, Ferguson said.
"Our folks who were really championing us were coming from Bed-Stuy and coming from Crown Heights," Ferguson said of the decision to open in the neighborhood. "Bed-Stuy always feels like home."
Ferguson and Alexandra aim to expand the idea of what blackness looks like in the wellness space. "As Black women we represent the diverse experiences of Black women," Alexandra said.
"Oftentimes there's only one example of what a Black person could be as a Yogi. Maybe they're typically like a curly haired light skinned black woman, and we don't really see different representations of that."
The opening of the cafe is a dream come true for the pair, who closed their DUMBO yoga studio and pivoted online when the pandemic hit. "It's like my faith made tangible," Ferguson said, reflecting on the day.
"This was just a day to really celebrate and really connect with the locals in the area and really let folks know that we're here and we're excited to be here and we want to keep growing in community with everybody." said Alexandra.
Visit "On Dekalb" at 704 Dekalb Avenue. Learn more about "BK Yoga Club" here.