Sankofa Boutique owner Cherica Wilson

Meet Cherika Wilson, owner of Sankofa Boutique in Capitol Hill.

Sankofa Boutique is a metaphysical retail shop specializing in crystals and cultural imports from Africa. The boutique is a place to explore healing and heritage, and Cherika’s commitment to her customers and their well-being makes Sankofa more than a store. It’s a welcoming haven where the past and the future meet through unique, handpicked treasures.

Learn more about Cherika and her shop in this week’s Small Business Spotlight Q&A!

 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

 

Tell us a bit about your business.

I originally started the business as an online business while living in North Carolina, and originally it was primarily geared towards African items like clothing, masks, home decor, health and beauty products, and organic herbs, and I slowly started to incorporate crystals into it, and it kind of just blended into a nice synthesis of what I have now.

 

Were you always passionate about crystals?

It’s funny because I wasn’t really into crystals. It happened organically, basically. I bought crystals one day, and I don’t know what made me buy them. They were just calling me. And they actually worked. I was like, “wow, there’s power in these crystals. This is real.” And I just kept buying more and learning more about them.

And people would see my crystals and they kept trying to ask me for them, So I ended up with none, because I’m so generous. I gave them all away. So I thought, well, maybe I needed to start selling them along with the African items that I’m selling, because I can’t afford to keep giving away all my crystals. 

 

Can you tell me about some of the crystals you have in your shop?

Ammonites, they’re fossils and they’re millions of years old. But they help you with grounding and connecting you with your ancestors and just giving you a spiritual knowledge that has been passed through all these millions of years.

Shells are very spiritually beneficial. We just don’t know it. We just think they’re shells. But they actually have been around for millions of years and have a lot of healing properties that we totally ignore.

The one I’m wearing is chrysoprase, and it’s one that I recommend often for heartache and the heart chakra, and the breakups and moving on and persevering. Just going on and living your best life after your heart’s been broken. It has a very nurturing vibe.

I wear it just for the nurturing vibes because I’m an empath, so I need that.

 

So when people come into your shop looking for a crystal to help them with something, you’re able to direct them?

Definitely, because I can pretty much feel how they’re feeling, as an empath. So I’m glad that I can do that for them. A lot of people lately have been coming in for protection, and there are a lot of broken hearts going around. So I usually recommend Tiger’s Eye, Obsidian, Aamzonite, or Moss Agate. 

I’ve had people come into the shop again and say “oh, everything that you’ve recommended worked. Thank you so much. My life’s great now.” It’s a rewarding feeling, and motivating to hear that. Because that’s what I want to do, help as many people as I can.

 

How do you source the African items?

For the African items, I know people that live in Kenya right now, that used to live here. She’s curated a lot of African artwork over the past, since the 80s. So I work with her and her colleagues, and she pretty much gives me anything I need. Masks, clothing, tapestries, African statues, and soapstone, which is really big in Kenya.

 

There is so much African-inspired designs and artwork out there, why is it important that you’re sourcing directly from African artisans?

I feel that if we’re going to have African art, it should come directly from the people in Africa that actually make the art. I think that’s only fair, because once it hits the United States, it’s sold for a lot of money. The artists have put their heart and energy and dedication to furthering their cultural traditions to provide us with these art pieces.

What types of African art do you have in your shop and can you tell us about them?

I really love art a lot, and I have quite a few African masks. There’s a lot of different meanings for each mask, depending on what tribe, and its ceremonies, rituals and traditions. This one is an Ashanti mask, and those are worn in ceremonies to represent the ancestors and their spirits. 

And this one represents animal spirits and the next life. It’s a reminder of rebirth and reincarnation. 

Mud cloth is very popular. It’s almost like a burlap type of material, from Kenya. So this mud cloth dress along with the cowrie shell necklace, it’s from Kenya as well. This would be worn as everyday clothing. It’s really pretty.

 

What is the significance of the name “Sankofa”?

I chose the name because it’s a Ghanaian word, and Sankofa means to go back and learn your history. And to use that knowledge to make your future better. A common phrase is to “go back and fetch it”, to go back and learn your history, and bring it to your future to make your future better.

I wanted everyone to do their homework, and learn more about where they came from, so that they can understand where they could possibly go. We need to continue to repeat history of our greatness, not the history that they gave us.


We hope you enjoyed this special interview with Cherika! Remember to upload your receipts all month long from woman-owned businesses like Sankofa Boutique for a chance to win prizes from Seattle sports teams. 

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