December 18th Virtual Transform Westside Summit: “Highlighting Westside Businesses”

The December 18th Virtual Transform Westside Summit was dedicated to spotlighting Historic Westside businesses. As Westside Future Fund continues to uplift the community through its four major impact areas, WFF also understands that a major indicator of the Westside’s overall well-being is the success of its local businesses and the residents who operate them. Moderated by WFF President & CEO, John Ahmann, the summit offered an opportunity for interested Westside entrepreneurs to gain exposure for their businesses while connecting organically with community members. Some of the entrepreneurs featured at the summit were: Keitra Bates, Founder of Marddy’s Shared Kitchen; Zak Wallace, Owner of Local Green Atlanta; Auna Tyson, Owner of The Cute Shuttle; Mori Russell, Co-owner of Olle Fit; Yolanda Owens, Owner of iwi fresh spa and iwi fresh Farm Oasis; and Miya Bailey, Founder of Peters Street Station.

Keitra Bates, Founder of Marddy’s Kitchen, helped kick off the open discussion. Bates launched Marddy’s in response to gentrification on Atlanta’s Westside. In hopes to preserve the cultural flavors of the community, Bates embarked on a mission to empower entrepreneurs in the food industry by offering a physical space to conduct business on the Westside. She went on to secure a space inside an historic building which formerly held Leila’s Dinette, one of few restaurants where Black Atlantans could dine during the Civil Rights Movement. Today, thanks to Marddy’s, Westside food entrepreneurs can now serve their food in a professional setting while taking advantage of Servsafe and business insurance courses. How can you support Marddy’s? Spread the word, donate, and of course, SHOP! Their pies are fantastic and make for wonderful gifts during the season of giving. If you’d like to place an order, click here.

Coming from the music industry, Zak Wallace had a vision for healthy delicious food in communities plagued by food insecurity and empty fast food calories. Wallace went on to launch Local Green Atlanta, serving Vine City residents with pescatarian, vegetarian, and vegan delicacies sure to satisfy even the most carnivorous appetites. The goal is simple—food that’s fast, fresh and nutritious. Customers can order online and take advantage of curbside pickup, minimizing the potential risk of spreading COVID-19. As the pandemic has been particularly hard on restaurants, supporting options like Local Green Atlanta will help ensure delicious, high-quality food will remain available for Westside residents. Consider buying a loved one a gift card, and help spread the word to neighbors and friends.

That transportation in Atlanta could use an upgrade in efficiency is one thing every Atlantan would agree on. Auna Tyson’s The Cute Shuttle goes above and beyond in spearheading such a mission. Tyson enlightened viewers to the impacts the microtransit shuttle system has had on residents, especially seniors, throughout the pandemic. Soon to be renamed Strive Transportation, The Cute Shuttle not only transports residents who text 470.231.9941 with their pick up and drop off locations, but it also transports food for those looking to further minimize potential exposure to COVD-19. As The Cute Shuttle continues transforming to meet the needs of the community with help from sponsorships, the future Strive Transportation will soon launch an app to be even more accessible to the community. Support efficient transportation in Atlanta by supporting The Cute Shuttle. To become a sponsor, email

Mori Russell joined the conversation to talk about Olle Fit, where the focus is not just on looking good on the outside but also on feeling good. Co-owners Russell and Mariah Williams are taking health and wellness digital for Westside residents. With the pandemic locking residents in their homes, physical and mental health are more critical now than ever, and Olle Fit offers training sessions to help maintain and improve both. Residents can safely enjoy HIIT, free weight, yoga, and meditation sessions in person at the Russell Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship or virtually by booking a class online. Olle Fit offers clients their first class for free! Book a class today.

Yolanda Owens, Owner of iwi fresh spa, joined to talk about her unique farm-to-skin spa which sources ingredients from local farms to offer customers sustainable skincare. After lockdown closed their doors for 4 months, iwi fresh pivoted to selling products curbside, offering online lessons on self care, and offering all new waterless pedicures. As sanitation standards have risen due to the coronavirus, iwi has been offering longer appointments to customers to ensure proper cleaning and safety measures can be met. How can you support? Shop iwi products, purchase gift cards for loved ones, or safely book an appointment today. *Mask and a temperature check are required before appointments.

Three years ago, Miya Bailey, Founder of Peters Street Station, set out to provide resources, education, and exposure to independent artists to enable them to showcase and sell their art. Today, Bailey has helped local visual artists thrive during the pandemic by connecting the right works to the right clients. Peters Street Station has proven its worth to Atlanta’s art community, and the city’s independent art scene remains one of its most saught out attributes. How can you support? Follow their Instagram @PetersStreetStation and @HiddenGallery333, and consider purchasing your next peice of home or business decor from a Westside artist at the Hidden Gallery.

Supporting Westside entrepreneurs is important because they do more than profit from the community, they support and help uplift it. The Westside is full of diverse creatives and thinkers, and we must strive together to ensure they have the means and opportunity to flourish.