A joyful Jubilee

New Circuit Ave. shop celebrates Black history in Oak Bluffs.


The latest business to arrive on Circuit Ave. is more than just a place to shop for beautiful and unique gifts. Owner Kahina Van Dyke hopes visitors to her new shop, Jubilee, will also take the time to check out a collection of historic Oak Bluffs photos hanging on the wall, and maybe even enjoy a relaxing few moments in the salon listening room, taking in the words of such notable African Americans as Maya Angelou and James Baldwin.

“I want to provide a space where people can stop in and get a sense of our town’s history,” says Van Dyke. “I put these pictures up to show that diversity has always been an integral part of our community.”

The pictures she is referring to are a series of archival photographs of the Black community in Oak Bluffs from the late 19th century. Van Dyke was a sponsor of a recent exhibit at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum that included the images. The photos, depicting porch gatherings, were described as showing “the transformational, multiracial pulpits of Oak Bluffs’ faith community.”

The wall in the comfy back salon area features custom wallpaper decorated with images of iconic Oak Bluffs buildings, with historical photos of African American families superimposed over and among the photos. The black-and-white images set against a pale blue sky with fluffy clouds provide the perfect backdrop for a couple of golden yellow comfy chairs. The salon is a testament to Van Dyke’s obvious talent for design, evident throughout the store. The space is lovely and welcoming, and everywhere you look you’ll find something of beauty, artfully displayed.

Among the handmade products are gorgeous fringed leather and animal print bags, lots of eye-catching jewelry, organic skincare and fragrance products, and the Harlem line of scented candles, with names like Langston, Speakeasy, and Josephine, that offer up enticing, evocative scents.

Locally made products include cards by Corinna Kaufman, featuring flowery prints made from delicate fronds of pink and green seaweed, and Martha Mae Jones’ fabulous silk scarves, hand-painted with colorful abstract designs.

The extensive selection of jewelry includes work by a number of African designers that Van Dyke discovered while perusing the African Pavilion at the New York Gift Show.

In addition, the shop carries State Road chocolates, M.V. Sea Salt, and fragrant sage smudge bundles decorated with dried flowers.

Van Dyke also offers a selection of books by African American writers. It’s all part of her mission to educate, as well as to support, artists of color. “I wanted to create a platform for independent artists,” she says. “The majority are African American. I want to help other Black entrepreneurs and designers.”

Van Dyke herself is an entrepreneur of no small measure. Along with her full-time job in the financial technology field, the tireless Oak Bluffs and New York resident owns and operates three inns in Oak Bluffs, and has planned and organized a number of local events focused on Black culture and history.

Jubilee is just another addition to the three Oak Bluffs businesses Van Dyke currently owns and operates. Five years ago she bought the Narragansett House, when she discovered that there was a chance it would be purchased, and possibly completely altered or torn down: “It was a passion project to preserve one of the oldest inns in Oak Bluffs. I wanted it to stay as it is.”

For similar reasons, she then bought the Dunmere Cottage on Pennacook. The history of the 19th century cottage (it’s actually a very substantial building) includes a period of time when the Dunmere was listed in the Green Book — a guide launched in the 1930s that gave advice to Black travelers on safe places to eat and sleep. The cottage is now one of the sites on the M.V. African American Heritage Trail.

More recently, Van Dyke added the Inkwell Beach House (formerly Isabella’s) to her Inkwell Hospitality Family of properties. The ocean-fronting inn is located directly across from Inkwell Beach, and in the same neighborhood as the other two inns.

When she was encouraged to purchase the space on Circuit that previously housed the store Tangerine, Van Dyke was hesitant, having never operated a retail business. However, she envisioned it as a space where she could not only support artists (a longtime passion of hers), but also offer a glimpse of an important aspect of Oak Bluffs history to visitors, through the photos and other effects. After the purchase, Van Dyke discovered that the building was actually the original location of the Dunmere Cottage before it was moved in the early 1900s. “That was a revelation to me,” says Van Dyke. “I guess it was meant to be.”

Other efforts the philanthropic entrepreneur has undertaken over the years include a residency program for young artists at the Narragansett House, and the establishment of an annual Juneteenth Celebration in Oak Bluffs. “The first celebration happened before it became a national holiday,” says Van Dyke. “I wanted to start something that would take on a life of its own and bring people together in a really joyful way.” Since then, Oak Bluffs has been named one of the top seven places to celebrate in the U.S. “It’s become a chance for our whole community to be proud,” she says.

Jubilee at 42 Circuit Ave. will be open Saturdays and Sundays at least through the end of the year.