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North Shore Community Development Coalition (CDC) is thrilled to announce that its relaunched Incubator Retail Space in Salem is successfully wrapping up its work with is first cohort since the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

The incubator, which initially launched in 2019 and closed during the height of the pandemic, provides a physical space for e-commerce and start-up businesses to explore brick-and-mortar retail opportunities.

Since the beginning of August, the incubator has been hosting a “Women of Color” cohort led by Charlene Peña, owner of Woven Royal, in collaboration with Jesenia Morales, owner of Romeo’s Juices and Smoothies and Kaylee Le, owner of Love Green Station. The cohort reinforces North Shore CDC’s commitment to promoting racial equity and expanding economic opportunity for local business owners.

Woven Royal helps women feel beautiful, supported and powerful being who they are. Woven Royal is the creator of the Afrona, a specially designed hat that keeps your curls intact. The Afrona is easy to use, multifunctional and stylish, allowing you and your curls to flourish.

Romeo’s Juices is here to create a mind, body and soul balance in the New England area. We make living a healthy lifestyle more accessible by offering healthy beverages, food alternatives, vibrant events and health and wellness education.

Love Green is a Salem local business that offers eco-friendly and zero-waste products. Love Green is committed to offering the community non-toxic and all natural ingredients products. All of our products are handmade in small batches.

Charlene Peña, owner of Woven Royal

“North Shore CDC is happy to provide opportunities to entrepreneurs who are looking to bring their businesses to the next level through our Incubator Retail Space,” said Felicia Pierce, North Shore CDC Chief Program Officer. “North Shore CDC looks forward to continuing to provide opportunities to small businesses prioritizing individuals from marginalized backgrounds–i.e., immigrant, Latino, Black, Women. We hope to continue to partner with these underserved businesses and provide both physical and learning spaces, where these entrepreneurs can thrive, grow, and cross barriers to provide economic stability for themselves and their communities. ”

The relaunch of the Incubator comes at a time when many small businesses in the North Shore region have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the physical retail space, North Shore CDC has helped these small business owners to draft business and marketing plans as well as assisting with set-up and customer engagement during their term in the Incubator.

“I couldn’t think of a more fitting way to sum up the lessons of the last year than with a collaborative marketplace uplifting women of color in entrepreneurship,” said Nikki Schafer, North Shore CDC Economic Development Coordinator. “I am endlessly grateful to Charlene Peña for sharing her vision with North Shore CDC and for providing the community with this symbol of solidarity and hope. We can’t wait to see the heights these businesswomen will reach!”

“I am overjoyed that my business is in el Punto because I feel that my childhood dream has come full circle,” said Charlene Peña, owner of Woven Royal.  “My parents migrated from the Dominican Republic to Massachusetts and my hair was a constant reminder for me of my heritage and where I am from. As a child, I spent a lot of time helping my parents with their bakery and I remember bringing Dominican baked goods like tres leches to the bodega here in el Punto. As a young girl, I dreamt of sharing part of who I am and my culture through entrepreneurship, like my parents did when they migrated here. It brings me great joy to be back in the community where my love for entrepreneurship began. I hope that my shop allows me to live out my mission of helping women feel beautiful, powerful and supported being who they are. That is why I included other women of color owned businesses to be a part of the Woven Royal shop. My hope is that with the store I am able to create a sense of community that feels seen, empowered and inspired to be who they are and have the courage to follow their dreams.”  

The Incubator is currently booked through Spring of 2022. Small businesses and entrepreneurs looking to learn more about North Shore CDC’s Small Business Technical Assistance program or the Incubator Retail Space, should contact Nikki Schafer, Economic Development Coordinator at or call 978-745-8071.