GVSU roots spark successful businesses for alumni couple

by Clémence Daniere, student writer

In a city known for its breweries, two alumni brought something new to Grand Rapids, an accessible wine and jazz bar that will soon celebrate its second anniversary.

Nadia Brigham, ’99, ’02 & ’03, co-owns GRNoir with her husband, Shatawn Brigham, ’09, one of two Black men who are certified level two sommeliers in the state.

“It is a place unlike any other in Grand Rapids. We try to offer a space that is welcoming and loving, where people have the opportunity to commune together and explore both wine and jazz,” said Nadia Brigham.

Shatawn and Nadia Brigham sitting on a couch, she is leaning on him.
GVSU alumni Shatawn and Nadia Brigham own GRNoir and Brigham Consulting.
Image credit - courtesy photo

The Brighams opened GRNoir in February 2021 and persevered through the COVID-19 pandemic. Nadia said it was important to them to create an environment that caters to a range of communities, while maintaining a focus on equity. Their aim, she said, is to rewrite the narrative around the pretentious stereotypes of wineries and wine, showing the community that wine can be accessible for all. 

“It is about accessibility and making room for people to explore. You may not know how to pronounce a particular wine, but we can help you with that,” she said. “The two components that we know to be the most communal essences in the world are wine and jazz. They bring people together in very powerful ways, so we wanted to leverage those and offer something that the community doesn’t have."

In addition to GRNoir, the Brighams opened Brigham Consulting, which is where Nadia, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work and a master’s degree in public administration, spends the bulk of her time. There, she assists leaders, organizations and businesses with equity issues and leadership development.

The work that she has created around diversity and racial equity was sparked at GVSU, she said. The content of her courses and the friendships she made helped keep that spark alive. 

“The mix between what we learned at Grand Valley and what we came to Grand Valley with in terms of how we were raised in our communities, helped to solidify how we wanted to walk in the world,” she said.


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