We had the good fortune of connecting with Elbi Elm and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Elbi, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
When I started The Culturist Union, I was really set on solving a major problem for my community: to open an inclusive gathering spot. A place where a Black creative could go a 2pm on a Tuesday. That was my driving force…to take up space, every event and project was to create that space. My goal was to either inform, educate, or commune with like-minded individuals.

What should our readers know about your business?
The Culturist Union is a multifaceted coffeehouse + Artisan marketplace, meaning we are serving up more than a cup of joe. We are a cafe that serves fair-trade coffee/tea and locally-sourced pastries with open seating for social distancing, a retail marketplace that circulates the Black dollar back into the community, and a private membership hub that offer services for exclusive events, workshops, and resources designed to empowers you to be a boss. Our mission is to be the quintessential cultural hub for all things in the community. Our mantra “Take Up Space” is a loud invitation for those who are often ignored or overlooked to make their presence and their passions known in the world. To literally and figuratively create a space of their own to grow and thrive, while still honoring their authentic voice and style.

It was not easy creating this social-economic incubator! There have been several stumbling blocks along the way, but I knew that I was committed to breaking barriers for present and future local business owners, creators, and customers and so I stayed the course, found my people who could assist me, and stayed the course.

In August of 1917, Walker hosted her first annual convention called The Madam C.J. Walker Hair Culturists Union of America, where she advocated for these women entrepreneurs to use their influence and financial independence to affect social and political change.
In Madam C.J. Walker’s community-building spirit, The Culturist Union creates a safe space where people of all merits can come together to create, cultivate, and collaborate, and, in doing so, actually make the world a better place—for the present and future.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Here in Savannah, Ga there are so many wonderful places to shop, eat, and play!

Breakfast: Another Broken Egg in Pooler is a great Black-owned eatery afterwards head over to Tanger Outlets and shop at Geechee Rootz
Coffee/Snack: Back in the Day Bakery is my favorite and Cheryl Day is my adopted auntie <3
Lunch: Head over to The Grey Market for some of the award-winning Chef and Resturanteur Mashamba Bailey’s awesome potato wedges!
Dinner: Good Times Jazz Bar is a great establishment to have a cocktail and listen to some live tunes from some of Savannah’s finest bands like Fellowship of Love.


Wings: 520 Tavern or a cool pop up shop called Wing-in-it Savannah
BBQ: Tricks on Bull St.
Seafood: Bradley’s Crab House
Soul Food: Sisters of the New South or 2 Chefs
Drinks: Liquid Cafe

Places to check out
Savannah African Art museum has a vast collection of West/North African art. Leave there and go to Diaspora Market for a cool souvenir!

Dayclean soul has an amazing walking tour The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are so many people/organizations/groups that helped catapult The Culturist Union(TCU) into the position that we are in today: opening the first-of-its-kind Black-owned multifunctional coffeehouse and Artisan marketplace in Savannah Ga this summer! To start, I would say, my former business partner, Carmen McCullum who quit her job as the General Manager of a highly sought-after restaurant in New Orleans to help me launch TCU.

To the ones I know, and the ones I don’t.. of the top of my head:
The staff and team of iFundwomen, The ladies of The Coven, Ryan Wilson from The Gathering Spot, Dr. Hallmon of The Village Market, the Coastal Georgia Minority Chamber of Commerce, The Creative Coast, Ryan Cobbins of Coffee at the Point, Juwan of Bkyd Marketing, Professor Robin Harris, Professor Jamal Toure, Professor Patrick Parks, Wayne Ashford of Ashford Tea, Alderwoman-at-Large Kesha Gibson-Carter, Clara Fishel, and Asha Gibson of USA Today, and the countless others who gave me a blueprint to reference, advice and a listening ear when I needed it- I am forever grateful.

Website: theculturistunion.com

Instagram: @theculturistunion

Linkedin: @theculturistunion

Twitter: culturist_the

Facebook: @theculturistunion

Youtube: @theculturistunion

Image Credits
Headshot, Andre Johnson

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutAtlanta is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.