This is Part 1 of a 7-Part Series on leveraging our enormous buying power and making a commitment to supporting African American Women Owned Businesses for the Holidays. The Small Business Administration as well as African American women business owners, consumers and experts will weigh in on and give their perspective throughout the series.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. As the holidays approach, Breonna DeLoach, 26, of Odenton, Maryland excitedly anticipates shopping for her family and friends. The tots are getting trendy, graphic tees from TwoLilBros. Some of the ladies will get handcrafted, charming button earrings from Andy’s Buttons Boutique. Others will luxuriate in body butters from Majestic Roots Naturals.
During this time of the year, we should realize how much our spending can positively affect African American women businesses,” says DeLoach. “There are a lot of businesses that are AMAZING, but have not hit the mainstream as of yet. It is our job to push African American women business brands and what better way than through holiday gifts?”
According to the 2015 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report commissioned by American Express OPEN, minority women companies account for one in three women owned firms. That is inclusive of African American, Asian American, Latina, Native American/Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. The growth of black owned women’s group has increased by 322 percent from 1997 to 2015 – impressively outpacing other minority groups in its subset. While business has accelerated over the years, it’s imperative that growth and sustainability continues. African American women can keep that momentum going by leading the charge of reinvesting in our own communities and among our peers.
As we embark on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, the days leading up to Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year’s Celebrations, let’s make a statement that we will commit to shopping this holiday season with African American women owned businesses. This introductory article shares the “why” of making this bold declaration. This year, we proclaim, “It’s a Sister Thing” and as a result:
We Keep Resources in the Sister Circle. “When you spend money at your local small businesses, more of that money stays and churns in that same community,” says Maria Contreras-Sweet, administrator of the United States Small Business Administration (SBA). “When you spend $100 in a small business, $68 stays in that community – in the form of salaries, purchasing goods and services for the business, and other local investments.”
We Discover Amazing Talents Among our Own. “Women, African American women more specifically, are naturally creative and have a strong will and desire to help take care of our families and enjoy life,” says Doreen Carter, president of the Greater Lithonia Chamber of Commerce in Lithonia, Georgia and author of The Mis-Education of the Christian on Money and Giving. “I believe that our drive is what makes us so unique. And the fact that we are naturally nurturers helps us to be more mindful of the products and services we offer and deliver.”
We Unearth Unique, One-of-a-Kind Items. Like DeLoach, you find many exquisite holiday gifts, all natural bath and body products, cultural home goods from around the world and more. “Make it your mission to go out and discover those unique, locally-owed boutique and coffee shops and make it a day of fun with your friends and family,” says Contreras-Sweet.
We Share the Success Story. When there is a positive domino effect of supporting African American women owned businesses and sharing the experience with everyone we meet, that gins up business and helps our sisters’ companies stay afloat. “Personally, when I learn of a sister business owner, I want everyone that I know to have the experience of supporting someone in the business that looks like me,” says Carter. We can support each other by spreading the word. As we make our Christmas lists, let’s commit to seeking out African American women to support. We should make that our first thought, not just the second thought.”