Stacey Winters says she’s a product of a whole lot of mistakes.
What makes Winters unique is that she chooses to rise above her missteps and start anew, calling her latest spot – literally and figuratively – being “in a really good place right now.”
Winters has reopened Soul Wired Café in the top of Fondren off Northview Drive. Originated in Midtown in 2012, she says she closed her doors last May frustrated, “people tired.”
“I had to find myself again, the person I was when I originally wanted to open my space,” Winters explains, “I started getting into the business of it. And that’s not my spirit.”
The Ethel, Mississippi native, known to her friends as “Soul” – a moniker she adopted as a young 12-year-old poet – feels at home in Fondren, a place she believes supports its fellow businesses.
Reluctant to even take a key and look at what she described as a “plain white office space,” Winters says the generosity of her building’s owners has been “divine,” “really giving me an opportunity to get my mind together.”
Her neighbors at A+ Signs have served as snake wranglers during outside cleanup and way finders, creating colorful building signage.
“Everyone has been so welcoming. A friend told me, ‘Sometimes you have to go where you are celebrated.’ It’s about validation, almost from yourself. I need to be around people who want to grow with me. That’s Fondren.”
Soul Wired Café is an art space, eatery and eclectic place with a vibe that’s designed to please the soul. A place where Winters says the original Facetime – actual conversation – can take place. It’s a place for meeting people you otherwise may never cross paths with.
Regular events here – poetry readings, the Living Room Culture, 4+3 Thursdays and a Gospel/Neo-Soul event every other weekend – add to the intimate and artsy vibe where customers will find repurposed coffee tables, colorful fabrics and well-loved furniture.
Touring musicians will pass through but local artists are welcome, though Winters says she will be carefully selective and curatorial of anyone who steps to her microphone. “Uplifting” and “positive” acts will be in the rotation.
An outside deck, front and back, sits alongside raised garden beds (Anna and Weezy’s community garden, named for her mother and grandmother) and vibrant murals that will line the building’s exterior walls.
Winters is already getting questions from the curious who stop by her off-the-beaten-path strip mall space.
“I had a couple of kids come by here, from JSU and they asked me what kind of people I wanted to come here,” she recalls. “And I said, ‘People.’ People that get this place, they can come back and the ones that don’t, they’re not. That’s the circle of life.”
When she’s not at Soul Wired, Winters works with Willowood Developmental Center, offering an art program she dubs “Poetic Seeds.”
“It’s some painting, but mostly open mic. The teacher tells me ‘The parents thank you for all the karaoke machines they’ve bought for Christmas.’ I got a good laugh out of that.”
As Soul Wired gets on its feet, Winters issues this message to the curious: “You’re welcome here. I don’t care where you come from, what your income is, what color you are, if you went to Harvard or dropped out of high school. Come here and take away some good vibes and go out there and do something positive around Jackson. It’s what we all need to do. It’s our responsibility as stewards of the city.”
Soul Wired Café is at 4147 Northview Plaza Drive, just off Northview Drive behind H&R Block. The cafe will serve a limited food menu soon – nothing fried – with lighter, healthier options like sandwiches and salads. Visit Soul Wired Café on Facebook to keep up with upcoming events.
Since we posted this story, Winters has posted to her Instagram: “We will be closed for a few weeks due to a death in the family. I’ll keep you updated.”