BlackScape Musings

Be a Niche or Switch May 17 2016

I have written briefly about the birth of Blackscape Outdoor Living in the past, but have never really sat down to tell how It all really happened, until now.

Why now, you ask? Because we find ourselves at another crossroads, another time of transition, and this has inspired me to think about my market, my products, and what these things mean to me.

At the beginning of my journey, the question of defining my market never crossed my mind. There was an obvious void in the market, for a specific type of product. I knew the product I wanted to provide would serve a limited market and be a niche business.

What Is a Niche Business?

When defined correctly, a niche market is a small, well-defined subset of the larger market into which a product is introduced. A niche market doesn’t really “exist,” in the way we think about the market existing, almost as a natural phenomenon. It’s more precise to say that a niche market is created when an entrepreneur sees a void in the market where there are wants, needs, and requirements, but no supply to fulfill them; ideally that entrepreneur develops and delivers the goods and services to meet this demand.

The idea (from the business owner’s perspective) is to identify this small market before her competition does, and to dominate it.



How I identified my niche

In the case of my business, I identified this niche based on my own desires. I have always been proud to decorate my home in vibrant colors, soft hues, and with culturally significant patterns that capture the distinctive mixture of the African history and eclectic African-American culture that so excites and pleases me.

One summer, while gardening, I went to look for ethnic, cultural yard art and decorations, to create an outdoor ambience at my home that was as culturally stimulating as my indoor decor. The experience was very dispiriting.

I couldn’t find any such products; I was puzzled.

There are plenty of African and African-American themed textiles, framed art and artifacts for interior design. All around me I found original art, note cards, and hair care products. Just last Christmas I saw African-American Santas and Mrs. Clauses, Angels, and even colorfully-painted wooden nutcrackers. So it seemed reasonable that I should be able to find African-American themed yard decorations. But I didn’t find a single product on the department store shelves or even online.

Plato said it first, and we still use his saying today:

“Necessity is the mother of invention,”

And this necessity led me to start Blackscape Outdoor Living.

Faith. Community. Strength.

From the start I decided to make and procure outdoor living products that were culturally specific to our African and African-American culture. Products that respect and reflect our faith, community values, and strength as a people. Symbols and images that reflected our language, our unique and beautiful facial features, our wide eyes and kinky hair.

I sat down and worked through these questions, knowing that by defining my needs and knowing my community, I would be able identify a small but unserved target market.



Stay True to Your Calling

I was told by some to broaden, widen, and expand the definition of my target market. Some said the market was too small, too narrow, or too limiting. I decided to stay true to myself, and to the calling of “necessity,” solving the problem I identified by providing a product that was missing from the market.

I knew that if I couldn’t find these products after literally years of searching, that they just did not yet exist. Meaning that there was minimal competition for my idea.

I was encouraged by family, friends, and consumers who bought the product to continue to serve this niche. It’s a smart business move to know your market intimately, because this allows you to more effectively serve them. In my case, I am my market; I know how they feel, what they like, what they do, and how they respond. I’m familiar with their actions and responses to situations. Having a niche market allows me to quickly respond to customers needs.

It’s a choice I have never regretted, even when warned that there is limited growth potential in this niche.

If you’re still reading this, there’s a good chance you’re a member of this niche market, searching and searching for culture-specific outdoor art and decor.

Let me help you select the most beautiful yard decoration for you to enhance your outdoor space.



Food, Family, Friends: My African-American Mosaic Art Inspiration! January 15 2016

Happy New Year, the Christmas holiday is over; I enjoyed the time off and I survived all the food, family and friends.  

I smile as I think about the wonderful time spent with family, friends and neighbors. We cooked and ate a lot of food – both traditional and old favorites, and  tried some new dishes we may keep around as well. And the African-American mosaic art inspired by my time spent with family and friends over the holidays has truly nourished my creativity.

All of the food was delicious because the one thing my family does well… is cook good!

We add a few pepper flakes, a clove or two of garlic, chopped onions or bell pepper. The seasonings are tangy, peppery, delicate, sweet and smooth; some aromatic and some pungent. And as we add a little of this and a lot of that, it results in a very tasty dish. We enjoy cooking with different herbs and spices, as when all the spices and flavors blend together the dish becomes even more delicious.

And when I think about how these different spices flavor a dish to make it great, I contemplate how the colorful mix of personalities and characteristics of the folks who surround me adds a delicious dash of spice and personality to my community. And this unique community is what inspires my drive to create beautiful african-american mosaics.

My community is much like food; the presentation is much nicer with a variety of colors and flavors.

The men, women and children are like herbs and spices. While some are spicy, others are delicate and sweet. Sometimes we use a different seasoning that will result in a distinct, yet delectable flavor. The traits and uniqueness of this eclectic group of people are the inspiration for the designs in the community section of the Blackscape.

Our images represent men of strength and leadership, wise and beautiful women with style and sizzle, and the playfulness and spontaneous of children.

Allow me to introduce my community to you through these African-American mosaic stepping stones

Brotha Man
The leaders and protectors of our community are represented by the image of Brotha Man. Along with Mr. Man and other images of powerful males, they represent the builders of families and communities; they demonstrate examples of trust, honesty and integrity for this generation. Honor the men in your life with these images of Mr. Man in your outdoor space or your home.

     Li'l Man

    Little Man in the neighborhood stands on a strong foundation built upon the people in his community to whom he looks up. His image represents play and mischief, as he is well mannered, helpful and respectful. The image of Lil Man on a stepping stone or porcelain tile will be perfect in the middle of your flower bed.

     Mizz Lady

    Mizz Lady’s image captures the essence of beauty, respect, sophistication and style. Mizz Lady is a nurturer in the community, setting the example of a wise woman. The image of Mizz Lady represents all things good in the community. Place a Mizz Lady stepping stone or porcelain tile anywhere in your outdoor living space to add color and style.

     Sistah Gurl

    Add fiery spice to your community with the sizzle and soul of Sistah Gurl. Nothing is boring about Sistah Gurl who keeps it real. The image of Sistah Gurl will bring pizazz and interest to any corner or special place in your outdoor space or in your home.

     Sister Girl

    Sister Girl is the different spice that makes our dish uniquely sweet. A diverse community allows us to celebrate our differences and similarities and makes us stronger. Sister Girl and Sistah Gurl represent this diversity; the images of either or both will add the perfect flavor to your outdoor space.

     Baby Girl

    The Baby Girl image was inspired by the charming playful manner and simplicity of a child with no worries of the world. It’s the sweet flavor of goodness; Baby Girl’s image represents the fun and liveliness of our community. Place this image among your colorful flowers and it will truly put a smile on your face.


    As our families and communities continue to grow, change, and evolve, what is exciting and fun for me is to think about meeting more people from different places, backgrounds and ages who will bring their uniqueness and each will contribute to who we are.

    As my community and surroundings were the inspiration for the “Lifestyle Collection,” I look forward to capturing in design, more images of exceptional people in the community. I’m sure they will make for a colorful palette of stained glass images and beautiful, inspiring African-American mosaic art.

    So please come back and check us out. 

    And Happy New Year from Blackscape Outdoor Living!

    Presidents Complexions Seniors


    9 Reasons Mosaic Art is Awesome November 16 2015

    Ever since I was a child, I have been inspired by the huge variety, incredible durability, and awesome beauty of mosaic art. When I was young I believe it was the bright, colorful patterns that drew me in. As I became more mature, I began to appreciate the symbolism and storytelling that great mosaic artists incorporated into their work.


    Outdoor Garden Mosaic

    Now, as the owner and proprietor of Blackscape Outdoor Living, and as an artist active in the mosaic arts myself, I have developed great appreciation and reverence for the skill, craft, and artistry it takes to create each piece. Because the process of crafting each individual work of art is unique, every piece is different, expressing a different aspect of the creator’s personality, or telling its own tale.

    Today, I would like to tell the tale of mosaic art itself.

    What is Mosaic Art?

    Mosaic is the decorative art of creating pictures and patterns on a surface by setting small colored pieces of glass, marble, or other materials -- called tesserae -- into a bed of cement, plaster or adhesive. I thought it would be fun to share a few details what I learned about mosaic art in form of an acrostic.

    Mosaic Art: An Appreciative Acrostic

    M – Mixed Medium: Mosaic is a mixed medium art form. A medium is what an artist uses to create his or her work. Painters use paint, sculptures usually use clay, welders use metal, musicians use instruments. Mosaic artists can use a combination of mediums such as glass, wood, metal, ceramic, textiles, to create their expressive art; thus, mixed medium.

    O – Origin: The earliest known examples of mosaic art dates to 3rd millennium BC Mesopotamia. Mosaic art has been found throughout Greece and Rome in arts and crafts  from the 3rd and 4th centuries. In the 1920s, a discovery revealed that affluent 4th century Greeks crafted elaborate mosaic floors of black and white pebbles, in their lost city of Olynthus, near present day Olinthos.

    S – Sensational Sites: Feel free to browse these resources for more information and photos related to the history and artistry of mosaics.

    Santa Costanza and Santa Pudenziana, both from the 4th century, still exist.

    St Peter's Basilica, 4th-century vaulted tomb with wall and ceiling mosaics that are given Christian interpretations.

    St Aquilinus Chapel of the Basilica of San Lorenzo, executed in the late 4th and early 5th centuries depict Christ with the Apostles and the Abduction of Elijah.


    The ceiling mosaic in the Baptistery of Neon, Ravenna

    A – It’s Art: Art is creative, visual, emotional and technical. Mosaic art is typically seen as an applied and/or decorative art, which is the application and design of objects to make them aesthetically pleasing, or the design and manufacturing of beautiful objects that are also functional.

    I - Inspirational: One of the most inspirational aspects of mosaic art is the fact that anyone can learn to do it. If you are so inspired, go to your local arts and craft store and buy a book on mosaics. Be inspired, collect your own materials or use prepackaged materials. To to a studio to learn from well-known or young aspiring artists. Creating mosaics is inspiring at any age, so go ahead! Get started and have fun.

    C – Cool: Mosaic designers uses bits and pieces of stained glass, ceramic, opaque or shimmering glass, wood or metal of different that are different, colors, shapes, sizes and textures to create a cool piece of art.


    Mosaic work studio

    A - Art Nouveau: Art Nouveau was an applied and decorative art, popular between 1890 and 1910. It was characterized by its propensity for organic forms and nature-inspired curves, as well as the extensive incorporation of mosaics. Mosaic Art Nouveau pieces can be viewed at art galleries around the world.

    R - Ravenna: During the 5th century AD Byzantine period, Ravenna, Italy leaped forward with radical new materials, techniques, and designs becoming the world center of Christian mosaic art. Mosaics in this era specialized in covering walls and ceilings with special glass and techniques to reflect light in the tiles. One of the most notable is The Basilica of San Vitale; today modern mosaics are still created in Ravenna.

    T - Technology: Today, some “artists,” are attempting to replace hand-made human creativity with machines. Pending may be an apparatus that could scan an image, generate colors, score tiles, identify matching pieces and produce mosaic art, essentially removing the artist from the creative process. This technology could remove our ability to craft mosaics with our own hands; to see the paint, mold the clay or cut the glass. Sure, technology is efficient. It’s just not fun!