It’s a chilly Monday morning and Brianna Downing, owner of Stoop & Stank Tees, is taking a stroll through her Philadelphia neighborhood as her car warms up in her driveway. During the 10-minute walk, she prays, breathes in the fresh air, and meditates. It’s part of her daily self-care ritual. Multitasking is the name of the game for this entrepreneur who single-handedly runs an e-commerce business.
Before heading to the coworking space where she keeps her inventory of funky logo t-shirts and sweatshirts, Brianna sends her son off to school, opens her laptop, and prints out the order lists that came in overnight.
Like many retail store owners, the mom and solopreneur finds herself in her busiest time of the year.
“I’m on the go all day – folding, packing, shipping orders and doing marketing in between,” she told ESSENCE. “For me, November really gets going. Then orders for hoodies and sweatshirts come in,” she said.
When the holidays are grind season for retail entrepreneurs like Brianna, Black Friday is her Super Bowl.
According to a 2021 American Express survey of small business owners, 78% said holiday sales would likely determine their ability to stay afloat in 2022. There is often much more at stake for black-owned entrepreneurs; The period between November and early January can make or break the bottom line.
With $1.6 trillion in spending power for African Americans last year, the holiday is a great opportunity to circulate those dollars internally. Briana, whose clothing brand is rooted in black culture, says her community always pops up during the holiday season.
“I’m blessed with customers who typically buy multiple items per order,” she said. “This year, for the month of November to date, I’m already up 59% on last year’s numbers, so I’m hoping for a great Black Friday turnout to match last year’s too.”
We want all black businesses to survive and thrive this year. So here are 7 easy ways to find and support Black-owned businesses this Black Friday and beyond:
Are you asking yourself, “Can I buy this black?”
With huge online retailers like Amazon and Walmart, getting exactly what you want delivered to your door couldn’t be easier or more convenient. But before you hit that one-click button for same-day delivery, ask yourself, “Can I buy this from a black-owned business?” If the answer is yes, do it.
Buy hashtags like a pro.
Haircare, candles, clothes, makeup — if you want it, there’s probably a hashtag for it. Paste #BuyBlackFriday, #BlackOwned and any number of niche hashtags into your Instagram search bar and, Viola! Thousands of retail options are available for you to scroll through.
Buy a gift card.
Everyone benefits when you buy a gift card from a Black-owned business. The retailer is benefiting from much-needed walk-in traffic during the slow post-holiday 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 always serves deliciousness, that handmade body butter that makes you glow — if you love it, post it. Word of mouth is the gift that passes on.
Highlighting your favorite black-owned businesses on social media does wonders for small businesses. Hashtag your post so others can discover your favorite products.
Consult a black business directory.
Not sure how to find the company that offers exactly what you are looking for? There are countless black owned business directories on the Beyoncé Internet, Official Black Wallstreet, Black Business Green Book, Black Woman Owned and We Buy Black are just a few.
Be patient with small businesses.
Your hard-earned dollars deserve impeccable service, but your locally-owned boutique likely lacks the infrastructure of the multi-global corporations that have set the bar for service and delivery near perfection. If you’re patronizing small businesses, it’s probably necessary to set reasonable expectations and be prepared to give yourself a little holiday grace.
In partnership with the City of Chicago, the Chicago Urban League is encouraging locals to support African-American owned businesses this Friday. The advocacy group launches its Black Shop Friday website on Thanksgiving Day, which lists more than 700 local black-owned businesses to support.
Check the National Urban League Affiliate Directory to see if your chapter supports this or similar efforts.