Dana Suggs of Body & Soul

by Terry Watson | May 7th, 2013
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Dana Suggs (Photo by Mykel Media)

Located in the Arts District of downtown Winston Salem, Body and Soul is four Afrocentric stores in one, paying tribute to the beautiful culture of African-Americans. The first part is a boutique that offers jewelry from around the world including Fashion, Scarves and Bags, Greeting Cards, and a listening station for Putumayo’s World Music. The second part houses a book room that has all the latest, current and popular books in a variety of categories, primarily by African-American authors.

The third part provides popular skin care Aromatherapy. According to co-owner Dana Suggs, this is where the action begins. Body and Soul is the largest seller of the entire Nubian Heritage Skin care line. They offer 13 flavors available in soap, lotion, body wash and hand cream. In addition to hair care products, they also sell incense, fragrance oils, and burners. The fourth and final part is their Gallery where unique offerings are available from different parts of Africa. On display are masks, furniture, paintings, home furnishings, and a few items inspired by the continent. The Gallery also sells African American Tapestries that are beautifully woven works of art and proudly made by American Craftsmen.
Coming from a larger city, Suggs had access to ethnic products that she considered important to her lifestyle and well being. These included Shea Butter products, literature, jewelry, home furnishings, and more. “These products were not readily available at major retailers and smaller stores. However, to get them I would have to wait for special events like HBCU homecomings, the CIAA tournament, and the Black Theater festival where vendors would come with these “specialty” items. I knew there had to be others like me that wanted these products available on a regular basis and not just at special events,” she says.

Suggs says her father walked with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the March on Washington, and her mother’s parents were behind Marcus Garvey’s Black Star Line. Growing up, her entire house was completely decorated in African-American décor. Her father was a designer and artist and only featured African & African-American art work on their colorful painted walls. Her father is currently the curator of their Gallery’s history. He also designed the layout of Body and Soul and selected the wall colors. Her mother, an educator who also loves making jewelry and fine things, is a heavy reader of African-American authors and others. “My parents truly instilled in me a sense of pride, dignity and respect for our people and that those qualities should be shared with others,” Suggs says.|

“Body and Soul is simply an extension of how I was raised with having parents that were very proud of their African American history and Culture. God inspires me to be better, do better, and share love and give joy. He makes it all possible. This is God’s plan for my life and others,” Suggs says. She describes herself as a proud African American woman who thinks very highly of her history, her culture, her people and herself. Co-owner and husband Michael says she is an intelligent business woman that truly believes in the products that she sells and knows the importance of customer service.

This year, Body and Soul celebrates 10 years of being in business. They have established a credible reputation for providing their customers with quality products at a good value. However, in order to do so Suggs says she has learned that a smart girl has to not only have a plan A, but a back-up plan B and plan C. Staffing at times can be challenging as it is extremely important to find the right fit for the store and their diverse customer base.

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