Entrepreneurs thrive in a community. Customers, suppliers, advocates, accountants, lawyers, teachers, and mentors form an ecosystem of creativity, diversity, and support that helps entrepreneurs like creative entrepreneur Katrina Norman.
Katrina Norman, a wife, mother of two, a previous federal employee of 20 years, and native Washingtonian, is the owner and operator of the Beautiful Brown Rainbow LLC, an arts and crafts do-it-yourself (DIY) company.
Katrina always enjoyed crafting, teaching, and DIY projects, so she launched her business shortly after resigning from her government role. With deep community ties, Katrina aimed not only to sell products but also to create an uplifting experience for those East of the River.
“I purchased my first home in Ward 7. I grew up in Benning Terrace, Simple City, Imperia. Now my ultimate goal is to give back and have a positive impact in some capacity,” she shared. Her vision is inspired by her poem, “The Beautiful Brown Rainbow.”
“We are all part of one rainbow, the one filled with love and hope, that helps us all to cope,” the poem reads. She carries the poem, cast in a resin heart paperweight, wherever she hosts her pop-up shops.
Katrina works to provide the best quality for her audience as she plans her DIY craft classes for students, entrepreneurs, and community members in the East of the River community. She hosted a DIY candle-making class at the Anacostia Arts Center, vended at pop-up markets, and sought ways to share her creativity and crafting with others.
“I want them to experience it in Ward 7 as they would in Rockville.” As a resident of Ward 7, Katrina witnessed much of the hopelessness of the community over the years. She positions her business as a solution in the community, focusing on core values such as integrity, empathy, understanding, and communication. These values form a network of authenticity that helps her connect with her local community.
“I was here in the ’80s and ’90s. 2022 is very different. Violence is still here. COVID contributed to a lot of anxiety, stress, and people losing homes, jobs, and businesses.”
Katrina is building her business to assist the community.
Katrina has experienced an overwhelming response from the community while hosting workshops for schools and community organizations. While participating in vendor shows around the D.C. Metro region, she realized a need for more visibility for artists and creatives in the Ward 7 community.
“Art is so versatile; there’s no right or wrong way to get involved. Art is about creativity, imagination, and making something of your own that you want to share with the world,” said Katrina.
She recently partnered with the Department of Parks and Recreation as a volunteer to teach youth jewelry-making, candle-making, abstract art, and various crafts. She describes the experience as “pure joy,” watching children in her community bubble over in enthusiasm and amazement at the opportunity to participate in a high-quality experience.
In the early phases of launching her business, Katrina faced compliance challenges threatening her business’s survival. “The challenge was not knowing where to go and what to do. My business was almost abolished because of a step I didn’t take on the DCRA,” said Katrina. The Washington Area Community Investment Fund supported Norman with technical assistance and business development resources through the Hive 2.0 and the Anacostia Arts Center.
She gained access to the Department of Small and Local Business Development’s (DSLBD’s) resources and programs. Katrina received information about grants, funding, and the support she needed to establish her business in the District.
Yet, despite her efforts to build and learn, Katrina has had to navigate financing challenges like other entrepreneurs. Retail businesses must purchase and prepare materials in advance to respond to quick turnarounds and rising demands. The more Katrina learned the more she helped other entrepreneurs within her circle.
As she builds her art empire, Katrina hopes to one day have her own storefront in Ward 7 where people can purchase handmade goods and create them.
“Those beautiful brown faces are important. We see you; you’re not invisible to us. It’s sad that a lot of them feel that way.”
Discover more of Katrina’s work and her mission on her website. https://www.thebeautifulbrownrainbow.com/