Nasrin Jean-Baptiste, a London-born fashion stylist and owner of the luxury handbag line Petit Kouraj, has also seen a flood of direct sales and wholesale requests. “This is an extremely busy time for Black-owned businesses and although it’s welcomed, I hope consumers only part with their hard-earned money because of the unique products I make that can not be found anywhere else—rather than because they think this is a temporary trend,” says Jean-Baptise. This level of widespread support for Black-owned businesses has just begun, but any business owner knows that longevity is the goal, and creating a large loyal fan base—like the kinds we’ve seen for white corporations all our lives—is vital.
So, how can white consumers maintain their support of Black-owned businesses far beyond this current moment? Start by listening to the myriad reasons behind this movement, then truly commit to action, beyond just buying one face mask or lipgloss. Jean-Baptise suggests signing the 15 Percent Pledge, a movement spearheaded by Aurora James of the accessories brand Brother Vellies that urges retailers to dedicate 15 percent of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses as Black people make up nearly 15 percent of the American population.
Boamah suggests white customers find ways to meaningfully engage with Black-owned brands. “Read more than just the shop page to ensure you authentically learn the process of each product being created in totality, not just witnessing the end result,” she says. Learning the history of a brand will allow you to get to know the founder on a deeper level and build a true connection. Take the time to learn about their mission and make it a commitment to support long-term.
For small business owners without online shops like myself, the best way to support is to simply spread the word. Follow and share my page on social media, sign up for newsletters, educate yourself on what I do, and book a virtual skin consultation if you have the means. Remember, the goal is to create long-standing success for Black-owned businesses by shifting the narrative to one of inclusivity in every area of the world. Now that you are aware of Black-owned businesses, you hold a social responsibility to share them with your white friends, family members, and colleagues. The time is now to gather all of your resources to propel Black businesses forward—and then keep doing it, in the weeks and months and years ahead.
Use your privilege to democratize resources by sharing grant information; contact your local representatives to help facilitate programs to support small Black-owned businesses that the community needs, especially in multifunctional roles. Remember that when you strengthen small businesses, you also strengthen the community. Schools are fully staffed, after school programs are funded, and greenhouses are built that support local Black farmers. Demand diversity in positions of power, from boardrooms to schools, so your fellow Black employees can walk into the workplace without being the only minority present. Hold big corporations and brands accountable for their inclusion.
Utilize your social network to amplify Black voices and provide representational justice, and don’t drop the ball on an opportunity to become an ally even in the most inopportune moments— like it once did for a close white friend of mine. Two years ago, she called me after a date with her partner, who is also white worked as a VP loan officer for one of the most well-known investment companies in New York City. It was a wonderful dinner, except for one drawback: Her partner very casually responded to the waiter’s mistake on the bill with a racial slur. She told me she felt awful, but she didn’t say anything because, “we were out having a nice dinner and I didn’t want to mess up the mood.” Can you see why his position of professional power and his racist mindset directly contribute to the ongoing systemic oppression of Black people, like the vastly disproportionate rejection of loans for Black businesses? White allies need to speak out on behalf of unheard Black people even when it’s uncomfortable to correct someone they love deeply — because that’s what true “allyship” is. When you act on your privilege by supporting Black-owned businesses, always remember: No act is too small when change is needed to progress a race most deserving of all its accolades.