Photo: Carlos Barquero via Getty Images
  /  03.23.2023

There are many ways to honor those who came before you. For Cheryse Terry, that looks like her own personal archive of some of the Blackest artifacts known to the culture.

“The vision was to create a community space that celebrates the preservation of Black history, the Black experience, and to just give people a space to dwell,” Terry told REVOLT in an exclusive interview. “I feel like I didn’t have that in Charlotte outside of an event or a restaurant. A place that just fosters community for Black people every day.”

Terry founded Archive CLT in 2021 to both honor her passion for collecting Black memories and stories, as well as her love for curating spaces for people who look like her to simply exist. She said these values were instilled in her from the very beginning.

“It’s always been a part of me,” she added. “Growing up with parents as old as I did, when I was born, my parents were already in their 40s, so growing up with parents who were already a bit older peaked my appreciation for the past antiques. I was already around stuff that was typically older than the people around me, so at the time, that was my norm. Then, once I got on my own, I realized it was a major part of me and I continued to thrift and just have an appreciation for different time periods with the ’70s being my favorite.”

In fact, Terry’s inspiration for Archive revolves heavily around family, specifically her mom, and daughters.

“I saw my mother and how she moved around and encouraged and created different programs at the church…” she shared, “different events, like Rainbow Tea, fashion shows, and various fundraisers, she was able to interact with everybody from all walks of life and I think that developed my personality to be able to have a business like Archive. I think there’s a huge part of my mother’s influence within the shop. For my daughters, I wanted to be able to show them Black entrepreneurship. I’ve always wanted to be my children’s inspiration. When they’re asked what woman inspires them the most, I have a desire for them to say me, so I carry that as a part of my influence for creating Archive, as well.

As a natural creative, Terry admits that she is someone who has never put a box or a limit on the various things she has worked to create — including her business. When she first set out to create the space, she had no intention of her company serving multiple purposes. “Initially I only wanted it to be a bookstore and a vintage store, I had no idea it was going to be a coffee shop, and it’s turned into that,” she explained.

When Terry pitched the idea to her broker about opening the store to solely focus on vintage items element, the owner revealed that he proposed the idea of taking things up a notch by offering coffee.

“He was like, ‘I don’t really think it’ll work completely. What about a cup of coffee or if you incorporated coffee?’ And I wasn’t a coffee drinker. I didn’t even own a coffee maker. Having no experience in that, I was very fearful, but I’m very open-minded, especially when talking about generating revenue,” she admitted.

From there, the rest is history. Terry commissioned a young Black woman by the name of Kenya Augurson to concoct a drink for the venue.

“I asked her to create something that she felt resonated well with our people and she created a brown butter, caramel syrup drink called the Foxy Brown for the Archive,” said Terry. It is now the company’s best-selling beverage.

Archive is not your typical coffee shop either, Terry also hosts various events at the space that includes everything from book signings to open mic night to movie night and beyond.

At some point, she hopes to not only encourage people to do all that they can preserve their own personal history, but Terry aims to help people digitize their family photo albums.

She admitted that her “family members lost their photo albums to a fire,” so the businesswoman wants to show “people how to digitize their family memories and distribute them to other family members to kind of create a culture of young archivists that really see value in the everyday Black experience.”

When it’s all said and done, Terry’s vision for Archive has no barriers.

“I want this to be a place where people have met their first love or where they, you know, come for their birthday. I just want it to be a very memorable place where Black people feel seen, feel like themselves, and are inspired to exist,” she expressed. “I would love for Archive to just be a place where people learn about preservation, develop and cultivate an appreciation for Black memorabilia, and just understand that our stuff is valuable, we need to hold on to it. We need to protect grandma’s relics, hopefully, combat gentrification and just encourage togetherness.”




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