Community support for her small business over the years was crucial to Ashley Lauren, who has owned Diva Rags and Suave Clothing since she was 15 years old.

Lauren is one of many Black business owners taking part in the city's second Black Business Week, a weeklong event that coincides with National Black Business Month, recognized across the country in August.

"I think it's important to bring awareness to underserved and underrepresented populations, because we need support right now," Lauren said.

That awareness and support is a crucial component of the week. Celebrations launched at a Black Business Week Kickoff Summit at Sabathani Community Center on Monday.

Minneapolis leaders and community members gathered in support of the city's Black business owner community. Vendors selling candles, lotions and perfumes as well as business development organizations filled the community center gym. Business leaders spoke on a panel hosted by Mayor Jacob Frey and City Council President Andrea Jenkins.

Frey highlighted the need to strengthen the existing community of Black entrepreneurs, while also creating and building the city's Black middle class. That was among the findings of the Minneapolis inclusive economic recovery work group.

"We want to make sure that their voices aren't just heard, but that their work is seen, that the extraordinary things that they are doing every single day to make their businesses flourish are seen by the rest of the city," Frey said.

The event was held just down the road from what was once the first Black-owned bar and social hub in Minneapolis. The Dreamland Cafe was at the heart of the 38th Street Cultural District, said Jenkins, whose council district includes the neighborhood.

"While it is super important that we uplift and highlight these Black businesses so that people can go out and support the businesses ... I think most importantly, we're trying to provide networking opportunities, opportunities for people to understand what are the resources available to help their businesses become successful," Jenkins said.

For newer businesses like Sola's Butters, Black Business Week is a way to network with other business owners in Minneapolis and around the Twin Cities. Abisola Jaiyesimi launched her business six years ago when she was searching for healing products for her eczema and couldn't find any. She began mixing butters and trying them out, and her family loved them.

"I'm creating products that are accessible to different people, that are healthy and natural, without toxins," Jaiyesimi said.

Business networking and development events continue around Minneapolis this week. The city's website includes a full list of Black Business Week events and resources.