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Return To The Latin Market

August 7, 2018
by the gentle author

Contributing Photographer Sarah Ainslie & I enjoyed our visit to the Latin Market in Seven Sisters so much that we returned to meet more of the traders. In spite of threats of closure, we were delighted to see that the market thrives as a teeming hive of small businesses and a vital focus for the Latin community in London. Next we are planning a Saturday night excursion to the market for salsa dancing.

Corina – “I came to this market eleven and a half years ago, I had a friend who ran this shop before me, selling clothes. I started bringing her clothes from my country, Romania. I was a single mother with two children and no access to benefits, so I had to do something. My son was seven months and my daughter was three. I got a loan from the bank and imported clothes from Romania to sell in Finsbury Park. But then I met a girl who ran this shop and she brought me here. At first, I used to clean the shop and change the clothes on the mannequins. This way my English improved. Then I bought the business and took it over.

Now I run a beauty parlour and this is how I support myself and my children. I studied to be a beautician twenty-six years ago in Romania and five years ago I decided to change from doing something I did not like to this. The certificates I had from Romania were not recognised here because technology has changed the profession. So I started to study again. I thought, “I’m old, I have two children and I have to work, so I cannot study” – but I did, and I won an award for excellence in 2015.”

Ari – “I learnt to be a barber in the Dominican Republic and I came to London via Madrid. I have been cutting men’s hair in my sister’s shop in this market for three years and built the business up. I get on with my customers very well and I enjoy cutting hair and barbering. This market is an important meeting place for Latinos.

Fernando – “In 2004, I started here with a small grocery shop but now I have a butcher, a baker, a cafe and I sell Colombian spirits. We have special events at the weekend, people come to dance and sing. It is a family event, people bring their children and everybody dances. This market is very important for our community because it is the only one of its kind in this country. It is a meeting point for people from Latin America and Africa. I want to stay here but I do not know what will happen to us in the future, they are saying we may have to move to another location. Nothing is clear.”

Nixon and Dago, baker and butcher

Catherine – “Me and my husband, we opened this shop here three years ago selling Colombian groceries. This is how we make our living. I run the business and order all the stock from a distributor in Spain. I want to extend the range of products that I sell and I hope to open a tapas bar one day.”

Pablo – “I came here five years ago when I had the opportunity to buy this cafe, before that I sublet half a unit from the Colombian bakery. I never had a mother to take care of me, I learnt to cook for myself out of necessity when I was eight years old. We were four brothers and sisters without a mother or a father, and I was working at nine years old shining shoes and selling cigarettes in the street in Colombia. At thirteen, I emigrated to Venezuela and then to Spain. Now I am here in London. The majority of my customers are Latin Americans, they work hard supporting their families by doing cleaning.”

Pablo with his son Christopher and Ana

Photographs copyright © Sarah Ainslie

Support the Campaign to Save the Latin Market

You may like to read our earlier story

At The Latin Market

7 Responses leave one →
  1. August 7, 2018

    What wonderful people working there to earn their living, an example to all. I hope the market can continue for a long time! Valerie

  2. Marina permalink
    August 7, 2018

    What a wonderful series of portraits of people who have worked hard to become entrepreneurs. An inspiration!

  3. Kate permalink
    August 7, 2018

    Fantastic folks working hard, I hope they continue to do so. Too many communities destroyed for a quick buck by developers

  4. Corvin permalink
    August 7, 2018

    Look forward to the salsa dancing visit (and a video of the Gentle Author dancing!). I urge readers to pay a visit to the market soon for a bite or a drink, it is really one of a kind, and if they enjoy themselves to donate any sum that they feel able to using the campaign support link just above this comments section. The market is at risk of disappearing due to development with no successor returning on site or anywhere else despite the traders having proposed a viable alternative.

  5. Delia Folkard permalink
    August 7, 2018

    I am full of admiration for these wonderful, hardworking people. Pablo’s story story is incredible and very sad but luckily has a happy ending. I would love to know more about how he survived in such difficult circumstances. Good luck to them all.

  6. Judi Jones permalink
    August 7, 2018

    Wonderful, inspirational people – a good example to any other people who moan about there being no opportunities. These people have overcome challenges that most of us have never experienced – but they didn’t sit back and moan – they each took charge of their lives and they deserve all the very best things in life. I wish them well.

  7. Ria permalink
    August 9, 2018

    An inspiring article. I admire the work ethic of the people featured and the adversity they have overcome. I hope the market is saved or else a much improved site is provided.

    Can’t say I ever liked the area and I haven’t been back in years but now I might visit.

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