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coffee and chocolate cake
coffee and chocolate cake
Original photo by Ruka Saito
Career > Work

Where Coffee And Artistry Collide: A Chat With Co-Founder of Creative Grounds DC

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Howard chapter.

That first sip of a cup of coffee or tea can leave you hooked, but in the case of Creative Grounds DC, the drinks are only a part of the appeal. In addition to crafting the most quality drinks, this coffee shop places a large emphasis on art and community.

Located in Northwest Washington, DC, Creative Grounds DC is a place where coffee and artistry collide. While drinking your matcha latte or eating your buttery croissant, you have the ability to gaze upon and become immersed in the amazing art created by members of the surrounding community.

When envisioning what the shop should be like, co-founder Asmara Sium wanted to create a space in which all people felt welcomed.

“Community is the first word that comes to mind when I think of Creative Grounds DC,” Sium said. “In my experience, coffee and art [are] always at the center of what brings me the most joy.”

A first-generation Eritrean-American woman, Sium was born and raised in the DMV and has over 10 years of experience in advocacy and organizing within marginalized communities.

“I began my very non-linear ‘career’ in the nonprofit world, working with immigrants, refugees, and underrepresented groups,” Sium said. “It was [this] work that fed my desire to be of service to my community, but a few years ago, I was drawn to the arts.”

Spending a short amount of time at the Smithsonian African Art museum as an advisory board member, and later a chairperson, Sium discovered that local artists were often unable to create or showcase their art at the Smithsonian. In turn, Creative Grounds DC was bred out of her desire to open an “art-forward” space in which artists could exhibit their work.

“Art is the core of our business, and I do not mean this from a financial perspective; instead, art is the channel through which we celebrate and create community,” she said. “It goes without saying that delicious coffee is icing on the cake.”

In addition to showcasing art, Creative Grounds DC offers an art education program to children and often partners with other small businesses in the community. Some of their vendors include Teff & Co, a Black-woman-owned vegan bakery, and Nagadi Roaster, a coffee roaster based in Silver Spring, Maryland. 

Although running a business is far from easy, Sium draws inspiration and motivation from her children and DC’s versatile creatives.

“[My children] take pride in seeing me execute a vision, especially when it is challenging,” she said. “I am also inspired by creatives who choose to show up through their work and their advocacy. I absolutely love hearing about the creative inspiration behind a work of art.”

With service, art and coffee at its core, Creative Grounds DC gives much to the community, and the community gives just as much back.

“It has been such a gift to deepen our connection to the community in this way,” Sium said. “This will be the first of many.”

Cory Utsey

Howard '23

Cory Utsey is a writer and blogger studying journalism at Howard University. Her interests include mainstream media, culture and social justice. Through her writing, she hopes to promote racial equity, wellness and intersectionality.