WASHINGTON D.C., DC — From the moment you step inside the Spice Suite in D.C.’s Takoma neighborhood, it's easy to understand why the business’ motto is "Food is Fashion."
The interior is inviting, and the smell of international spices makes you feel as if you're stepping into someone’s home for an exciting dinner party.
Coming from behind the cash register, you can hear sequin pants jingling from the owner’s legs as she goes to greet customers at the front door.
Angel Anderson Gregorio walks the line between fashion and food.
Gregorio, who's a D.C. native and previous contestant on Master Chef, opened the Spice Suite four years ago after working in education for years.
She's received the honor as best spice shop in D.C. from the City Paper each year she's been open.
The mother of two has traveled all over the world for spices, and introduced new flavors to her customers in the DMV.
Despite Gregorio’s success, she's made it a point to help other female entrepreneurs as well as doing community-based activism work on issues affecting native Washingtonians.
She turned her store into, what she calls, a "dream incubator."
“Dream incubator because I wanted to invite community into the space," Gregorio said. "So, I started allowing small businesses to host free pop-up shops in my store."
Out of that concept, the Spice Girls were formed.
“The Spice Girls are a tribe of about 21 women who are small business owners themselves, but they don’t have a brick-and-mortar space,” Gregorio said. “We trade off in a sense. They come in and sell their products and I don’t have to necessarily be here while they’re selling their products. They can run the space.”
The women also help to sell Gregorio’s products while in the store.
Gregorio allows the women to sell products and host events from inside of her business free of charge.
“I don’t get the point in charging people," Gregorio said. "I feel like we’re all small business owners. It doesn’t do me any good to charge folks. I want to see everybody win."
Gregorio encourages the women involved to reinvest the money they earn back into their businesses.
She's also been active in advocating for issues affecting D.C. residents, such as affordable housing and gentrification.
Gregorio and Tony Lewis were behind an organized response that highlighted black culture after a controversial campaign from The Washingtonian Magazine.
The social media campaign painted an unfair representation of the demographic makeup in the District.
Lewis and Gregorio’s efforts led to the establishment of a commemorative day to honor native Washingtonians, called "D.C. Natives Day."
“That’s what D.C. is about," Gregorio said. "It is about authenticity, it is about freedom. D.C. is about opportunity. D.C. is about black people -- and we’re here and we are not going anywhere as business owners, as natives, as residents."