Supporting Black Businesses
The need to support Black-owned businesses in local communities and across the country began to gain traction at the start of the pandemic as these businesses were most significantly impacted by mandatory closings and stay-at-home orders. The call to support businesses owned by people of color became even greater after the protests and unrest that followed George Floyd’s murder. It’s my hope that supporting these businesses is not a temporary movement and that it becomes a permanent, natural part of doing business.
I’ve compiled a small sampling of the outstanding Black-owned businesses throughout the country. Supporting these businesses will help build a stronger, diverse and equitable society for all.
African American Literature Book Club
The AALBC celebrates Black literature across the United States. Founded by Troy Johnson in 1997, the comprehensive site provides information on Black-owned bookstores, publishers, books, authors, magazines, newspapers, book clubs and events, plus discussion threads and a section devoted to fun.
In the summer of 2020, Dionne Sims began a crowdfunding campaign to establish a Black-owned bookstore in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her crowdfunding efforts raised funds far beyond the goal. Sims has curated a collection of her favorite books and launched a virtual store through Bookshop, as well as titles she’s excited to read and/or get into readers’ hands. The ultimate goal is to open a physical space for Black Garnet Books in spring 2021.
This platform for Black-owned businesses is the largest of its kind in U.S. Its Entrepreneur Spotlight showcases Black business owners in blogs and success stories. There is every type of business imaginable listed in the directory:
- Apparel and Accessories
- Food and Drink
- Hair Care
- Skincare and Spa Services
- Fitness and Wellness
- Professional Services
- Home and Design
- Home and Garden
- Specialty Businesses (Event Planning, Florists, Photography, Video)
- Miscellaneous (Baby Essentials)
City First Bank and Broadway Financial Corporation
Last month, two Black-led banks, City First in Washington, DC and Broadway Financial Corporation in Los Angeles, California announced their transformational agreement to create the largest Black-led bank in the nation. It has more than $1 billion in combined assets under management and approximately $850 million in total depository institution assets. Combining the two institutions will increase its collective commercial lending capacity for investments in multifamily affordable housing, small businesses and nonprofit development in financially underserved urban areas, while creating a national platform for impact investors. Brian Argrett, chief executive of City First, will be chief executive of the combined company, which will use City First as its banking brand but keep the publicly traded Broadway Financial Corporation as its bank holding company. Wayne-Kent Bradshaw, Broadway’s chief executive, will be the chairman of the combined company.
The story of the McBride sisters, Robin and Andrea, begins with two beautiful sisters with no knowledge of each other living on separate continents. Robin was raised in the wine regions of Monterey, California and Andrea in Marlborough, New Zealand. It was the dying wish of their father that they find one another, and they were united in 1999. The McBride Sisters Wine Collection evolved when the two realized that one of their common denominators is a shared passion for wine. They’re the first African-American sister duo to found a wine company. Through their core values of sustainability, empowerment, innovation, affordability and community, the McBride sisters not only created a unique wine experience for their customers, but have done so successfully in a male-dominated field.
In 2019, Robin and Andrea created The McBride Sisters SHE CAN Professional Development Fund to promote the professional advancement of women in the wine industry. In the first year, they awarded scholarships of nearly $40,000 to empower women to strive for change and to create opportunities for themselves.
Planting People Growing Justice Leadership Institute
The mission of Planting People Growing Justice Leadership Institute, a St. Paul, Minnesota-based nonprofit organization, is to plant seeds of social change through education, training and community outreach. Founder Dr. Artika Tyner has authored several children’s books that promote diversity and learning. The organization has its own bookstore, which offers many books for children and young adults, each of which promote literacy, cultural diversity and leadership development. The impact of PPGJ is both national and global as the organization distributes free books across the U.S. and Africa. Dr. Tyner’s first book for kids, Justice Makes A Difference, is a finalist for the Minnesota Author’s Project: Communities Create 2020.
Shoppe Black is a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based company founded by husband and wife team Tony Lawson and Shantrelle Lewis. The couple create and curate content related to Black business ownership and Black culture in the global diaspora. Since 2015, they have profiled thousands of businesses and interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs and professionals from New York to Nigeria, all in the name of celebrating Black business excellence and encouraging the community to invest in itself. Currently, Shoppe Black is expanding their business model to include a global business directory and a business agency that will provide Black-owned businesses and professionals with much needed services and resources such as access to capital, branding, digital marketing and customer experience training.
The Minneapolis-based publishing company’s motto is “Breaking Barriers Book By Book.” Founder and CEO Mary Taris’s vision is to give all children the opportunity to see African-American culture from different perspectives and to provide pathways for illuminating stories across cultures and generations. Strive began by filling the need for picture books and young adult novels so that Black children can see themselves in literature and to fill the need for a diverse range of representation in children’s, young adult and adult genres.
Twin Cities Black-Owned Businesses
This directory from MSP Magazine encompasses Black-owned businesses every category:
- Food and Drink
- Hair care
- Skincare, spa services
- Professional Services
- Home and Design
- Specialty businesses