This year, the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement has taken many to the streets to speak out against social injustices. It’s also spread far and wide via social media, giving Black entrepreneurs a platform they did not have before. Some Black-owned businesses have felt this locally and are encouraging that support to continue on Cyber Monday and beyond.
“I was getting tagged in so many local, Black-owned businesses [on Instagram]. People were just reaching out to me saying, ‘oh I love your jewelry. You’re doing so amazing! Keep up the good work,’" Keli Lopez, owner of Keli Micah said. “For me, being a young entrepreneur and still learning my path in life, it makes me very happy.”
A surge in business came for Lopez and she says some of her fellow Black CEOs after the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement a few months ago. She points out that supporting Black-owned businesses can make a huge difference, especially when the business is small. After all, the nineteen-year-old Taft College student and self-proclaimed accessories hoarder is also the “owner, packaging manager, everything!” Lopez said.
Meanwhile owner and operator of Blaque Market Co., Saskia Blackmon has been a Bakersfield business owner for years.
Before she started her line of herbal teas, salves and oils for natural healing earlier this year, she co-owned an event planning company. She said Kern County and the nation still have a long way to go in supporting Black-owned businesses.
“Our community spends money everywhere, so why not give these businesses the money they need to survive and to be able to be tax-paying businesses?” Blackmon said. “But it’s harder for us to really obtain the money to push ourselves to the next level without pulling everything out of our savings.”
Nationally, a UC Santa Cruz report found that 41 percent of Black-owned businesses closed during the pandemic compared to 17 percent amongst white-owned ones.
“That’s why you see a lot of Black-owned businesses doing a lot of online business, because you’re not able to get the loans and things you need to be able to push your business into a financially secure area,” Blackmon said.
When loans are difficult to secure, there’s a lot of power in the customer to help a business flourish, so what can the non-Black community do to keep up the support on Cyber Monday and beyond?
Lopez and Blackmon encourage people to do the research and increase awareness. It’s as easy as searching a hashtag like #Blackownedbusiness or the “Shop Black” sticker on Instagram, something Blackmon says can help not only Black-owned, but small businesses in general.
“Hashtag small businesses or #localbakersfieldbusinesses, or #661smallbusiness and you’ll find all these small businesses that need your support!”
After all, The Kern County Black Chamber of Commerce’s President, Nick Hill III said there are least 150 to 250 Black-owned businesses in Kern County to choose from.
“Doing business with other ethnicities should just be a normal thing,” Hill said. “It’s only going to enhance our minority businesses, to make sure that after this pandemic is over, that they’ll still have a business in the end and that they can thrive after the pandemic is over.”
If you’re a local Black-owned business, feel free to reach out via, firstname.lastname@example.org to have your shop added to this story.