5 directories to help you shop with black businesses all year round
Calls for racial justice have resounded across the country this summer, forcing consumers and businesses to back black establishments and entrepreneurs with their wallets. A 2020 survey by Groupon and the National Black Chamber of Commerce found that 75% of the 400 black businesses surveyed saw their sales increase throughout the month of June. According to theGrio, searches for black-owned businesses increased 1,785% after #BlackOutDay on social media. Since then, that activity has fluctuated as black businesses struggle to survive amid the pandemic.
COVID-19 presented unique challenges to black businesses as nearly half were “wiped out” by the pandemic in April and minority-owned businesses struggled to receive loans from the Paycheck Protection Program. As the country embarks on a celebration of black history this month, consumers can help preserve and grow black community businesses beyond this “June boom.” Here are five directories to help you integrate black owned products into your daily life.
1. List of the Nile
Khadijah Robinson created The Nile List in 2019 to merge her love of online shopping and support her community. The lawyer came up with the idea following the Ferguson protests when a reporter inquired about the destruction of local businesses. âI will never forget that an organizer was interviewed and told the reporter, ‘We don’t own any of this,'” Robinson said. âDo you think we own this QuikTrip or this bank? It made me want to be much more determined to support these things of ours. “
Named after the river, she created The Nile List to become a trade and income stream for black-owned businesses. The platform works like a Yelp for e-commerce and offers everything from wine to batteries. Buyers can search and filter for items (vegans, women-owned, etc.), and the products listed will be linked to that company’s specific website. Soon it will be redesigned so that buyers can purchase items directly from the Nile List site.
The 31-year-old Georgian native said all consumers should understand that these are often small independent businesses run by “solopreneurs” who take care of everything from shipping to customer service. She recommends keeping this in mind when shopping and having the patience to nurture independent businesses so they can hire more resources.
If you want to support black businesses for the long haul, “the most important thing is to look at the things you buy most often and start replacing them with black owned products,” she said.
2. Bold Xchange
Bold Xchange began in 2016 when Danielle Deavens was shopping for a Christmas present for her father. âIt was such a great experience that I decided to buy all of my family’s Christmas presents from black-owned businesses, but it was much more difficult than I expected,â a- she declared.
With co-founder Douglas Spencer Jr., Deavens sought to create a platform that makes it easier to find black-owned brands and supports black entrepreneurs. The online store, based in St. Louis, Missouri, and established in 2018, sells a curated collection of products from all types of businesses. Dubbed the âMost Convenient Way to Buy Black Online,â the founders have tried and tested every product, and shoppers can explore and purchase items all at once.
Bold Xchange was created long before the âJune Boomâ in 2020, but the founders felt the effects, scrambling for packaging materials and boxes from June through August. While the company has kept its promise of speedy delivery, Deavens, 26, said people should try not to put the same pressure on small businesses as they do on large companies.
âIf there is no shipping policy, you absolutely have to reach out because most of the time they will respond to you promptly and politely,â Deavens advised. “In general, if you grant the grace, you will probably get the grace back.” Its key to supporting black businesses? Expand your shopping beyond everyday shopping to gift giving – and consider the story, purpose, and rich history behind each item.
3. Official Black Wall Street
Official Black Wall Street is a digital platform connecting consumers with various black-owned businesses around the world. With over 375,000 downloads and businesses in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom and more, the app alerts users when they are near a black-owned establishment and allows them to leave reviews after each visit.
âI lived in Brooklyn, New York, and gentrification became very, very obvious,â Founder and CEO Mandy Bowman said of her inspiration. âThere were a lot of black-owned businesses in my neighborhood that were shutting down. “
Bowman decided she could help and created the OBWS website and app in 2017, naming it after the Black Wall Street Massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1921.
OBWS is in the process of relaunching its website and app, which will also serve as a marketplace where users can buy directly from the site. Business owners can sign up for different subscription levels and work and partner with larger businesses and corporations.
As for his best advice to shoppers, Bowman said buying black shouldn’t be seen as a moment, but rather a lifestyle change. âIt’s about community, growing the local economy and black neighborhoods, and creating more generational wealth for black entrepreneurs,â she said.
4. Everything belongs to blacks
Following the Black Lives Matter protests this summer, consumers began to hold brands and businesses to account. It was then that celebrity costume designer and stylist Zerina Akers decided to create Black Owned Everything.
While Akers has said it started out as “some kind of finsta”, the business directory seeks to empower black creatives and their products, from luxury lifestyle and fashion items to food and more. .
The Instagram page gained over 10,000 followers organically in just three days after launch and now has over 200,000 followers.
Akers hopes Black Owned Everything becomes a go-to destination for quality merchandise and transforms buying Black from a chore into something long-lasting and lasting.
âWe could use our energy for something bigger. If we could just re-energize our own community, it would go a lot further, âAkers said.
The Folklore, established by Amira Rasool in July 2017, is an e-commerce boutique that sells luxury designer clothing handcrafted in Africa to customers around the world. Hailing from South Orange, New Jersey, the Rutgers and University of Cape Town graduate wanted to create a platform that embodies her Pan-African values.
âI wanted to make sure I did something that would bring us together,â Rasool said. “(I wanted to) bridge that divide between Africa and the Diaspora, and prioritize the idea that if black people unite and collectively support each other economically, socially, politically and intellectually, we would be in a much better place. Rasool added that she sees the company becoming the Net-A-Porter of African fashion.
In order to sustainably support black businesses, Rasool believes that intentionality is key. âWe live in a capitalist society, and it was built largely out of black blood and sweat and tears,â she said. âThe first thing they have to do is put their money in a black owned bank because they are investing in the community. Another thing is to make sure that you actually go to these black directory sites.