It’s a chilly Monday morning and Brianna Downing, the owner of Stoop & Stank tees, is taking a walk around her Philadelphia neighborhood as her car warms up in her driveway. During the ten-minute stroll, she prays, breathes in the fresh air, and meditates. It’s part of her daily self care ritual. For this entrepreneur, who single-handedly runs an e-commerce business, multitasking is the name of the game.
Before heading to the coworking space where she stores her inventory of pop-savvy logo tees and sweatshirts, Brianna sees her son off to school, opens her laptop, and prints out the order manifests that have come in overnight.
Like many retail business owners, the mom and solopreneur is in the throes of her busiest time of year.
“I’m on the go all day— folding, packing, shipping orders, and doing marketing in between,” she told ESSENCE. “For me, things really start to pick up in November. That’s when orders for hoodies and sweatshirts start to pour in,” she said.
If the holidays are grind season for retail business owners like Brianna, Black Friday is their Super Bowl.
According to a 2021 American Express survey of small business owners, 78% said holiday sales would likely determine whether they can stay afloat in 2022. For Black-owned business owners, the stakes are often much higher; the period between November and early January can make or break their bottom lines.
With African American spending power at a record $1.6 trillion last year, the holidays are an excellent opportunity to circulate those dollars internally. Briana, whose apparel brand is rooted in Black culture, says her community always shows up during the holiday season.
“I’ve been blessed with customers who typically buy several items per order,” she said. “This year, for the month of November, to date—I am already ahead of last year’s numbers by 59%, so I am hoping for a great Black Friday turnout that surpasses last year’s as well.”
We want to see all Black businesses survive and thrive this year. So, here are 7 easy ways to find and support Black-owned enterprises this Black Friday and beyond:
Ask yourself, “Can I Buy This Black?”
With massive online retailers like Amazon and Walmart, it couldn’t be easier or more convenient to get precisely what you want delivered to your doorstep. But, before you hit that one-click for same-day delivery button, ask yourself, “can I buy this from a Black owned business? If the answer is yes, do it.
Shop Hashtags Like a Pro.
Hair care, candles, apparel, makeup—If you want it, there’s probably a hashtag for it. Drop #BuyBlackFriday, #BlackOwned, and any number of niche hashtags in your Instagram search bar and, viola! Thousands of retail options are yours for the scrolling.
Buy A Gift Card.
Everyone benefits when you buy a gift card from a Black-owned business. The retailer gets to profit from much needed foot traffic during their post-holiday slow season. The recipient gets to choose exactly what they want, and you get an easy win.
Spread The Word.
That new curling cream you swear by, that restaurant that consistently serves up deliciousness, the handmade body butter that keeps you glowing—if you love it, post it. Word of mouth is the gift that keeps on giving.
Highlighting your favorite Black-owned businesses across socials does wonders for small businesses. Be sure to hashtag your post so others can discover your favorite products.
Consult a Black Business Directory.
Not sure how to find the business that has exactly what you’re looking for? There are tons of Black-owned business directories on Beyonce ́ ‘s internet, Official Black Wallstreet, Black Business Green Book, Black Woman Owned, and We Buy Black are just a few of them.
Be Patient With Small Businesses.
Your hard earned dollars deserve immaculate service, but your locally owned boutique likely lacks the infrastructure of the multi-global corporations that have set the bar near perfection for service and delivery. When patronizing small businesses, it’s probably necessary to set reasonable expectations and be prepared to extend a little holiday grace.
Black Shop Friday.
In partnership with the city of Chicago, the Chicago Urban League is encouraging locals to patronize African-American-owned businesses this Friday. The advocacy organization is launching its “Black Shop Friday” website on Thanksgiving day, listing more than 700 local black-owned businesses to support.
Check the National Urban League affiliate directory to learn if your local chapter supports this, or similar efforts.