Tucson Electric Power is continuing its support of the BIPOC Community Managed Loan Fund for black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) community members. This month, the Community Investment Corporation (CIC) re-opened applications for loans for new and fledgling businesses. Here is the story of one recipient from the first round in 2021.
When you walk into Black Broccoli right off 4th Avenue, you’ll first notice the colorful interior, with one-of-a-kind clothing and vintage figurines lining the walls. You’re met by the sounds of R&B playing softly in the background and a greeting from owner Nick Arcade, as he creates another one of his unique outfits by the cash register.
Arcade has been at this location for three years, but he has been making clothing for much longer. Originally from Dekalb, IL, Arcade moved to Tucson in 2015 after visiting a friend and falling in love with the city.
He never thought he’d have his own store here, though. He started out selling his designs at local markets. “I thought I would get a truck and drive around the city, hosting pop ups and selling my designs from there,” he said. Instead, he found the space at 418 E. 7th Street and it just worked.
Arcade describes his designs as “Frankenstein-ing things together.” He finds items at thrift stores and puts his own touch on them. He’s inspired by the 1990s and you’ll see it in his design concepts. He also appreciates the element of sustainability he achieves when he gives thrifted clothes new life.
“I started off with bleaching clothing because it was an inexpensive way to take color out of things, and then I started adding my own color,” Arcade said.
And now, his store is even more colorful thanks to a new local loan fund for minority-owned businesses.
With support from Tucson Electric Power and other donors, the Community Investment Corporation (CIC) launched a BIPOC Community Managed Loan Fund. Qualifying businesses can request an interest-free loan up to $10,000 for up to five years. CIC developed the program to take action in the wake of ongoing national tragedies and calls for racial equity and justice.
TEP’s donation is tied to our philanthropic focus area on racial and social equity.
When one of Arcade’s friends encouraged him to apply for the loan, he was reluctant. He felt like his work was unconventional. He wasn’t sure if people would see his vision, let alone give him funding. But, he applied and, to his surprise, he was one of the recipients.
“This money allows me to expand my store and create some stability for my business,” he said.
He has already made some changes with his $5,000 loan. He changed the layout of the front of his store and is adding more sizes for some of his items.
He also has plans for the rest of the money.
“I would love to provide workshops for people who want to learn design,” he said.
Arcade is interested in helping high school students explore their passions. With Tucson High School located just a few blocks from his store, he hopes it won’t be too hard to find students who want to learn.
In the meantime, Arcade is working to provide quality products to his customers and continues to show off his creativity.
“I’m heading to more simple understated pieces with the store branding. I’ll still work with vintage materials, when I can, to keep it sustainable, but with my own flair and unique concepts,” he said.
Watch a short video clip to hear how Arcade got into sewing.