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Justin Streeter brings worldview — and millennials — into his Magnolia House nightclub

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By Je’Don Holloway Talley
For the Birmingham Times

Justin Streeter, owner of the Magnolia House nightclub, is honest in his assessment of Birmingham’s nightlife. The 29-year-old Ensley native, who has done his share of traveling, said he aims to help “Birmingham’s nightlife catch up” to what he’s experienced in other major cities.

“I try to incorporate the world into Magnolia,” Streeter said. “That’s why I like to travel [to larger cities] … Nightlife in big cities is totally different than what we’re used to [in Birmingham].”

Streeter said he travels to get experiences to bring back to Birmingham and has been to the Revolt Music Conference in Miami, [Fla.] and networked in New York City, N.Y., Los Angeles, Calif., Seattle, Wash., New Orleans, La.

His two-story establishment sits on Magnolia Avenue, on Birmingham’s Southside, in ideal proximity to the neighboring University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and downtown business district. This location allows an easy commute to happy hour for professionals and serves as a nearby spot for local college students.

“We can cater to people who have traveled and explored the nightlife vibe across the country and … introduce it to others who haven’t,” he said.

A Space for Everyone

Magnolia House provides structured and shareable experiences and serves as a space for benefits, showcases, panel discussions, art exhibits, birthday parties, and other events. It caters to college students and millennial professionals looking for different types of experiences.

“Professionals like the lounge-type vibe, and college students like the club, high-energy vibe,” Streeter said.

Magnolia can also serve as a vending space for independent retailers.

“We’ve had pop-up shops for I don’t know how many clothing lines here in Birmingham. [We’ve had] cooking events. It’s just open,” Streeter said. “We have our nightlife, but I strategically fit those [other] types of events into our lineup. Whether it’s before the nightlife begins or whatever we’ve got to do, we’re going to make it work.”

The Ramsay High School grad credits his team for the success at Magnolia House. Marcus Nix, a producer who goes by the moniker “The Odds” and is also cofounder of Solace Entertainment and Media, is Streeter’s “partner in all things business.”

“We’ve been friends since elementary school, but we started dreaming together five years ago,” Streeter said.

David Peoples, who serves as the venue’s general manager and is also a member of Solace Entertainment and Media, is another valuable team member.

“[Peoples and I have] been friends since college,” said Streeter. “I wouldn’t be in the position I am in today if it were not for [Nix and Peoples].”

Solace Entertainment and Media

Solace Entertainment and Media focuses on marketing and branding, Streeter said: “Artists call me all the time for advice or help with their graphics and [tips on] what their [promotional] roll-out should be, as far as how they should promote upcoming projects.”

“Solace can help millennials in the entertainment industry,” he added. “That’s what I’m trying to do with the concerts, the mixers, the fashion shows, all the [events] we’ve been part of.”

This is a good time for millennials in Birmingham, which is “wide open right now,” said Streeter.

“Being in Birmingham … you have an opportunity to create your own way versus jumping on somebody else’s wave,” Streeter said. “You can find you a nice commercial business space and just start dreaming.”

Community First

Streeter also gives back to the community, whether it’s by helping homeless people in downtown Birmingham or working with his grandmother in Ensley’s Bush Hill community, where he was raised by his mother, grandparents, and aunt.

“I love the Bush Hill community,” he said. “My grandmother is president of the [Bush Hills Neighborhood Association], so I help [her] with clean-up and anything else she needs.”

Streeter also focuses on the community and people around Magnolia House.

“Most importantly, I put a lot of my time, thought, and effort into the community first,” he said, “We give to homeless people and [residents of] Southtown Projects, [located just a few blocks away from Magnolia House], … [everything] from energy to just communicating. Any kid that I come across, I really try to invest my time and energy into them.

Learn more about and connect with Magnolia House on Facebook @Magnolia-House-Birmingham-Al and Instagram @magnoliahousebham.

Meet the millennials on the move in the Magic City

By Je’Don Holloway Talley
For the Birmingham Times

Alchemy owner Ace Graham at his new location in Five Points South. (Reginald Allen Photo, For The Birmingham Times)

For Ace Graham, Birmingham is the perfect metropolis for millennials to launch their dreams.

Graham, 34, owns and operates Alchemy, a high-end streetwear “creative boutique” in the Southside’s Five Points district, near the corner of 11th Avenue South.

“If there is something [millennials] want to do, they can do it here: a brewery, a streetwear shop. … There are a lot of opportunities here because it’s not oversaturated,” he said.

Graham’s vibrant, artsy space is ideal for millennials, many of whom are often found socializing there: “We try to provide that here,” he said. “I don’t have many places to hang out. … For the most part, if we want to go somewhere else or hang out, we go to the Magnolia House.”

The Magnolia House is owned by Justin Streeter, who also uses his two-story establishment on Magnolia Avenue, on Birmingham’s Southside, to encourage creativity and host events.

“The guys over there are very good friends of ours, and we try to support each other as much as possible,” Graham said. “Streeter is a very good friend of mine. [He] comes in often, and we share conversation.”

Meet the Millennials

According to the Pew Research Center, the Millennial generation—anyone born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 23 to 38 in 2019)—is “the first generation to come of age in the new millennium.” Compared with adults in previous generations, they “are the most racially and ethnically diverse adult generation in the nation’s history” according to a recent article, “Defining Generations: Where Millennials End and Generation Z Begins.”

In fact, the Birmingham-Hoover metropolitan statistical area has about 248,000 millennials, who now make up the largest part of the area’s workforce, according to data from the Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA).

Last year, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin—himself a millennial, at 37—told Alabama State University (ASU) students during a lecture series, “There are an estimated 69 million millennials across this nation. When we are woke and engaged, there is nothing we can’t do.”

That’s certainly true of Graham at Alchemy and Streeter at Magnolia House. The two business owners share a great chemistry and sense of comradery.

“We’re definitely about sharing information for the betterment of both of us,” Graham said. “If we have someone in town like [AKOO clothing’s] Jason Geter, [who co-founded the fashion brand with rapper Clifford ‘T.I.’ Harris], once that event is over, we’ll fall over into [Streeter’s] place and spread the love. … That helps out a whole lot.”

Wide Open

Justin Streeter, owner of Magnolia House. (Reginald Allen Photo, For The Birmingham Times)

Streeter, a 29-year-old Ensley native, has a venue that caters to college students and millennial professionals looking for different experiences: “Professionals like the lounge-type vibe, and college students like the club, high-energy vibe,” he said.

Magnolia can also serve as a vending space for independent retailers.

“We’ve had pop-up shops for I don’t know how many clothing lines here in Birmingham. [We’ve had] cooking events. It’s just open,” Streeter said. “We have our nightlife, but I strategically fit those [other] types of events into our lineup. Whether it’s before the nightlife begins or whatever we’ve got to do, we’re going to make it work.”

The Ramsay High School grad said this is a good time for millennials in Birmingham, which is wide open.

“Being in Birmingham right now, you have an opportunity to create your own way versus jumping on somebody else’s wave,” Streeter said. “You can find you a nice commercial business space and just start dreaming.”

More Than a Teacher

Rachel Simonne (center) leads A. H Parker High School students in a series of stretch techniques during their rehearsal for a school production. (Reginald Allen Photo, For The Birmingham Times)

Speaking of dreams, that’s what Rachel Simonne, director of A.H. Parker High School’s Theater and Dance program, helps her students realize. Simonne, who is responsible for designing the department’s curriculum, teaches an array of theater, drama, and dance classes daily and directs three productions per year.

Being in the millennial generation, Simonne, 27, sees her role as more than teacher and director.

“I am a mentor to some. I am a second mom to some. I’m a counselor to some,” she said. “I have to play so many roles because my students need so many things … they lack for whatever reasons.”

The Wylam native’s dance and theater curriculum are centered on black modern dance and the works of African-American playwrights, such as Lorraine Hansberry August Wilson, and Ntozake Shange.

“I’ve found that a lot of the other dance and theater genres are more so entertaining versus actually having a message [to which] we as African-Americans can relate,” said Simonne. “African-American playwrights make a connection between now and then, as it relates to our ancestry. It’s more meaningful.”

Messaging

Birmingham City Council Creative Director Desmond “Dez”

Desmond “Dez” Wilson is creative director for Birmingham City Council and still works with music artists, developing
branding concepts and music videos. (Provided Photo)

Wilson, 31, knows the importance of messaging. That’s his specialty both in and away from City Hall.

When working for the city of Birmingham, Wilson and his team manage all visual communications pertaining to City Council branding, broadcast, social media, and press. The group also seeks new ways to bridge modern communications and municipal government to help promote transparency and efficiency.

“We’re always searching for ways to educate the public on government resources, practices, and processes: how to apply for a license, how to get a business license,” Wilson said. “These are the types of things the public needs to be educated on.”

Away from City Hall, Wilson uses his talents to give back to the community “by telling black stories [and] exposing black talent to different avenues.”

“We’ve been so far removed from controlling our own messaging and controlling [how we are perceived],” he said. “It’s becoming increasingly important that I continue to [remain] a part of my community and work to cultivate and grow our understanding.”

Like others, Wilson sees Birmingham as a city where millennials can thrive.

“Birmingham is a growing attraction [because] of the industries and companies that are coming here and the general amenities [the city] is beginning to offer for millennials,” he said, noting new entertainment and event venues in the area, including TopGolf in downtown Birmingham and Dave and Buster’s in Hoover, that are very appealing to the millennial generation.