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Rising Stars: Meet Jasmine Settles

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jasmine Settles.

Hi Jasmine, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Cafe Noir started with a passion for reading and a love for books.

I grew up being read to and taught the importance of reading. Combine that with a thirst for knowledge and the next thing you know, you are sitting in your graduate literature class at the University of Memphis falling in love with Octavia Butler and coming to the conclusion that everyone should be able to experience this feeling.

Everyone deserves to see characters who look like them, talk like them, and maybe even share kindred experiences. And that started me on my course for envisioning Cafe Noir. I began trying to learn what I could about opening a bookstore and then my vision grew into so much more than just a bookstore.

I started to ask myself questions like, “Why can’t it have a cafe with amazing coffee” and boom that lead me to research the coffee industry and so forth and so on. Cafe Noir isn’t only a bookstore/cafe, it’s also a resource for the community.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
Not at all, but I cannot acknowledge the struggles before I acknowledge those who have been so helpful and amazing resources along the way.

The support and reassurance I have been given is more than anything imagined, and I am so grateful. Some of the most challenging moments have been when I could not see the vision. I couldn’t picture what was next.

And being in a space that has lacked representation and is just now seeing a surge of Black and Brown folk, yes it was often difficult to see what was next.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
Outside of operating Cafe Noir, I am also the Artistic Director of HomeGrown Arts. HomeGrown is an arts organization that focuses on literacy and creative writing. We have taken on some amazing projects and can’t wait to continue to grow.

HomeGrown is my creative space, I am a writer by nature and HomeGrown allows the space for that. As my day-to-day time is limited try to find as much time as I can to write. But one thing that I am most proud of is the work I get to create like, Women’s Water and “Untitled”.

Those works were deeply rooted in intentionality, and I am forever thankful for what they gave me. I also love photography, film, and acting…honestly, anything of related to arts, I’m down.

We’re always looking for the lessons that can be learned in any situation, including tragic ones like the Covid-19 crisis. Are there any lessons you’ve learned that you can share?
The most important lesson Covid taught me is, how fragile life is, and that many systems we have in place do not work and are not working for disenfranchised communities.

Covid showed that we have to reimagine ourselves and the current state that we reside in. And one thing we can all reimagine is “community” and how we operate in our communities.

Modernity has placed us in spaces that are so distant, but we are communal beings and community is essential. Reimagining and community are important for our survival and our existence. Café Noir will be a space and experience that aids on this expansion.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Catherine Patton

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