While some folks still choose to brave the frigid temperatures and scores of people waiting to rush into brick and mortar stores on Black Friday, many (including myself) would much rather drag and drop purchases into a virtual shopping cart, where you can get many of the same deals without waiting till Cyber Monday. According to TechCrunch, online Thanksgiving day sales hit a record of nearly $3 billion, a number that’s up by 18.3 percent from last year. And businesses owned by people of color got a boost from a viral Twitter thread. Eve Ewing, a poet, sociologist, and author, asked people of color who own an “ecommerce situation” to promote their business in tweet that now has over 200 replies. In it, you’ll find deals from everything from body wash to press-on nails to Cardi B-inspired home decor. This thread does not disappoint, and you could probably get all your holiday shopping done by browsing through the many small businesses owned by people of color on Twitter.
Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, though, is Small Business Saturday, an American shopping holiday used to celebrate and support small businesses and all they do for their communities. Thanks to the internet and social media, people of color have been able to start and grow businesses at unprecedented rates. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 29 percent of business are majority owned by people of color, and that number in increasing quickly.
Often times, small, minority-owned businesses do not have the budget to advertise and get their product in front of new audiences. Ewing’s thread introduced potential customers to many small businesses they otherwise wouldn’t have known about. Lara Witt, a co-owner of a collection of products geared towards women of color, tells Bustle why supporting small businesses owned by people of color is important. “It’s crucial to support creatives of color because so many of our creations, styles, and ideas are co-opted by large companies owned primarily by white people,” she says.
Witt’s observation is unfortunately true and common. Just earlier this month, Sandy Liang, a fashion designer, accused Forever 21 of stealing her designs. "@Forever21 are you proud to rip off young designers?" Liang asked, as W reported.
A lot of minority small business owners have multiple jobs. Jamilah Lemieux, the Vice President of News and Men’s Programming for iOne Digital, also sells t-shirts in addition to her 9-5 gig. She explains the importance of the side hustle to Bustle. “I’ve been selling t-shirts as a side hustle for the last few years. I’m bad at self-[promotion] and hate asking people to spend money, so it’s probably not as lucrative as it could be,” she says. “It’s important that we patronize not just larger, well-known Black businesses, but our friends and neighbors too. Clothes, fish plates, homemade beauty products, braids — the side hustle is so much a part of our culture.”
There are other resources out there to help you support Black-owned business this holiday season and beyond. The popular website Official Black Wall Street launched an app this month that helps users locate Black businesses in their area. Mandy Bowman, the founder of Official Black Wall Street, wants the app to give Black businesses more exposure and access to consumers who want to support Black businesses.
“I believe it’s due time for us to make a conscious effort to buy Black. We’ve heard the stats that we have a $1.2 trillion dollar buying power,” Bowman told Black News. "With our current political state it’s becoming more evident that supporting Black-owned businesses will allow us to vote with our dollars while strengthening the local economy in the Black community.”
Remember, you don’t have to be a person of color to support people of color. As Yelitsa Jean-Charles, the founder of Healthy Roots Dolls, tells Bustle, “Supporting businesses owned by people of color is one of the best ways to show your support as an ally.” If you want to support small, minority-owned businesses this Small Business Saturday (or, you know, anytime throughout the holiday season), this thread is an awesome place to start.