Black Creators is a special series highlighting some of the amazing Black women and men who’ve successfully used their passion and platform to unite our community.
Black-owned is more than a category of business, culture, or financial freedom — it’s a state of mind. That’s why Means Cameron founded BlaCkOWned Outerwear in 2011 — in an effort to empower the surrounding Black community, with hopes that the message and brand would become global.
Early on, Means partnered with Merk Ervin, a locally-renowned entrepreneur. Together, they formed a power duo that would go on to gain more and more notoriety in their Cincinnati community and beyond.
In the brand’s early stages, Cameron and Ervin would sell BlaCkOWned sweatshirts from the trunk of their Honda Accords and take orders through Facebook messaging and direct calls. The duo’s motto was “shop never closed,” an attitude that paid off significantly and facilitated the rapid and organic growth of the brand.
Today, Cameron and Ervin are a long way from hustling out of their trunks. Nearly a decade later, BlaCkOWned has a brick-and-mortar storefront, an e-commerce website, and a thriving social media presence. Their apparel is worn by everyone from local community members to influencers to celebrities, and they are still serving their mission by promoting Black ownership, while challenging societal inequities through fashion and storytelling.
This year, especially, the BlaCkOWned team noticed that people are becoming increasingly intentional about spending their money with Black brands in the wake of the summer of uprisings against racial injustice and police brutality. Over the past two months, they have seen a spike of 30 percent in sales.
As for what it means to be a Black-owned business, Cameron expresses, “it is a great honor … because we’re privileged to represent the ancestors who fought for our right to have a storefront in a conservative city and neighborhood. It is an honor … because we understand that we are setting the tempo for the next generation of Black entrepreneurs.”
Their team has inspired hundreds of people to launch brands throughout the midwestern region and beyond. They believe that the biggest shift in the standard of living for Black people in America will take place through economics. “This is our opportunity to create wealth and something more dynamic than a 401k,” Cameron told ESSENCE.
Black folks have delivered some of the most critical pieces of culture, fashion, trends, and vernacular, yet fashion has yet to embrace us authentically and holistically. BlaCkOWned aims to be that representation and inspiration in the fashion industry.
“We created BlaCkOWned to deliver a clear message about said philosophy that transcends fashion or even retail. We are ‘The Family Reunion of Fashion.’ We had the heart and desire to promote a Black-owned lifestyle 10 years ago before it was the hot thing to do. The best part about an ‘elevator’ for me is the way up, and the way up for Black people is branded on our garments, ‘BlaCk Ownership’,” says Cameron.
As for what BlaCkOWned wants people to know about their brand, Cameron says, “we want people to know that our business is actually Black-owned, and we have dedicated ourselves to uplifting and highlighting Black people through fashion. It is a lifestyle for us to Buy Black. We are the official brand of the Black Revolution (self-proclaimed).”
BlaCkOWned is proof that when we are intentional with our dollars, we can help build strong Black brands that can—in return—support the communities that they are located in, through service.
You can shop BlaCkOWned at www.BlaCkOWned19xx.com, and find them on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter at @ImBlaCkOWned.