In Bustle's Quick Question, we ask women leaders all about advice — from the best guidance they've ever gotten, to what they're still figuring out. Here, Rachael Hawk tells Bustle about Facebook's #BuyBlack Friday campaign, her favorite way to unwind, and finding inspiration through self-care.
Black-owned businesses saw an outpouring of support after police killed George Floyd and subsequent protests spread across the world. Still, over 40% of Black-owned businesses have shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, compared to 17% of white-owned businesses. This didn't sit well with Facebook's marketing manager Rachael Hawk, 27, who's responsible for the platform's first-ever #BuyBlack Friday campaign, which has run in the weeks leading up to Black Friday. Through a #BuyBlack Friday Gift Guide, the initiative amplifies Black businesses.
"If we introduce these amazing small, Black-owned businesses to people on the biggest shopping day of the year, then maybe they'll be inspired to buy Black year-round," Hawk tells Bustle. "When you support a Black-owned business, you empower an entire community."
In addition to a #BuyBlack Stories Sticker and #BuyBlackChallenge hashtag to help users post and tag their favorite Black-owned businesses across Facebook and Instagram, The #BuyBlack Friday Show, a live online event celebrating Black culture and entrepreneurs, airs on the Lift Black Voices hub weekly. Each episode is hosted by stand-up comedian Phoebe Robinson and includes special guests, with Gabrielle Union and Miguel set to appear this week.
"#BuyBlack started with eight of us, but people, including executives, from all across the company stepped up to help bring the campaign to life," says Hawk. "We want to harness the energy of Black Friday and redirect it toward supporting Black businesses. They deserve all the help we can give them.”
Below, Hawk shares why failure is important, how she's beating imposter syndrome, and the surprising hack that boosts her confidence before presentations.
Tell us the biggest hurdle you faced when executing the #BuyBlack Friday campaign.
RH: The concept started with me and my teammates on the Small Business team, but it quickly grew to involve so many teams across Facebook. So the biggest challenge going into #BuyBlack Friday is managing a huge number of cross-functional partners. There are days when I have back-to-back meetings, but that passion is what keeps us going despite pushing up against super tight deadlines.
You're under 30 and already making a significant impact at one of the most influential media companies — do you ever deal with imposter syndrome?
RH: When I first joined Facebook in 2018, I faced major imposter syndrome because I made a lot of transitions at once. I moved across the country, switched industries from journalism to tech, and went from a small company to a huge one.
When I was pitching #BuyBlack Friday to leadership, it was in a Shark Tank-style environment. I was petrified, but I tried to channel that fear into excitement because I believe in our team, in the idea itself, and in Black businesses. Fighting for Black businesses was more important than my fear in that moment.
How do you get pumped up before big presentations like the one you described?
RH: The Wonder Woman pose — you stand up on your feet, put your hands on your hips, and look upward for a few minutes — puts me in the right mindset. Instead of hunching over my laptop like I normally do all day, it opens me up a bit, makes me feel more confident, and ready to commit people to an idea.
What’s your favorite way to recharge after a grueling presentation?
RH: I'm an avid reader. I don't like to use electronic reading devices, I like traditional books. And I love to read near water, whether it's a pool, beach, or lake. My most-recent read was Everything Inside: Stories by Edwidge Danticat. I just purchased a couple of John Lewis' books — Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement and Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change. I'm excited to read those two next.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
RH: My mentor Lori Ann Pope, [Facebook's Head of Event Marketing, Global Economic Impact], helped change the way I view failure. She recommended Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck, which teaches you that a fixed mindset says failure is a reflection of your competence, but a growth mindset says failure is just an opportunity. I became less afraid to make mistakes and started viewing any experience, including failure, as another challenge.
And what’s the worst advice?
RH: To always be "on." Black women experience the pressure to always be "on" more so, because we feel like we represent all Black women all the time. But sometimes, I find that my best ideas come to me when I’m not "on" and when I'm away from my computer. People should prioritize their well-being and embrace their vulnerability because great ideas can come from there, too.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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