Local Syracuse Business Owners Explain Pride Behind African American Heritage Syracuse Business Owners Explain Pride Behind African American Heritage

Vincent St. James and Tiffany Seals represent the underrepresented

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Vincent St. James and Tiffany Seals are living out their dream.

St. James, the owner of a local film and photography company, Creative Roots,  recently opened his first brick-and-mortar location on Eerie Boulevard. Seals, meanwhile, tufts rugs for clients out of her house on Onondaga Avenue. Her company is called Tuft Talk. The pair both work day jobs but are elated to be making money on the side after expanding on skillsets that initially began as hobbies.

“The plan is to grow this studio,” St. James said. “To get where I am now was hard, but (Creative Roots) has shown me that I can do anything I put my mind to.”

Most of St. James’ annual revenue from his business comes in May when Syracuse University students reach out for graduation portraits with friends and family. But his dream is to make Creative Roots a joint entertainment venture with room for podcasters, movie directors, and other local creatives wanting to rent out his space.

“The city has definitely given me a lot to work with. So why not try to give something back to the community,” St. James said.

Seals started tufting rugs during the COVID-19 pandemic to make a few extra dollars on the side. And since one of her pieces blew up on TikTok a few years ago, she’s taken orders from loyal clients. Seals said she’s hand-crafted more than 100 rugs for customers ranging in 35 domestic states, and countries like Dubai and Germany. On Oct. 15, 2022, Seals even shipped a Kobe Bryant-inspired product to two-time NBA Champion Lamar Odom.

“It’s definitely very humbling seeing all this success,” Seals said. “When I opened my store in downtown Syracuse, it was the very first custom tufting store in all of central New York.”

But aside from their personal achievements, St. James and Seals are very vocal about the inspiration they’ve potentially given aspiring African American entrepreneurs in the area. Seals said she’s thankful to provide a good example for young girls in her community, while St. James said if he did it, anyone who looks like him could.

“People of color, mainly Black people, don’t get the credit, the recognition,” St. James said. “As long as you’re confident in what you’re currently standing in, then, you know, all that other stuff will just fly by.”

Seals agrees with St. James’ sentiment. She wants tufting to become a full-time job one day. and she knows she’s on the right track. Seals said she’s proud of who she is and even prouder of the strength and confidence displayed to endure her journey.

“(Tuft Talk) makes me a part of Black history because no one else has done that,” Seals said.

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