Black-owned businesses are all the rage at the moment, but it’s hardly new to us. We have always been just as entrepreneurial as any other group, but we often lack the resources and support to truly flourish. That’s why I’m so proud to be a Black-owned cosmetic brand during a time when we are starting to truly understand that part of the freedom we are seeking lies underneath our dollar.
In America, our entrepreneurship and economic growth has often been met with harsh resistance in the form of violence and legal restrictions. After slavery, African Americans entered into the Reconstruction Era (1863-1877), a period of time during which Blacks were finally given the legal right to operate businesses. This era ushered in decades of Black prosperity and community development that began to rival that of White America. The collective prosperity and growth of Black-owned businesses was met with a fury of backlash and violence resulting in events such as the Black Wall Street Massacre in the summer of 1921, and the Rosewood Massacre in 1923. Whatever wealth we had managed to accumulate, was again and again forced out of our hands. The effects of this theft, and other restrictions put in place to prevent our prosperity are still felt today.
As if violence weren’t enough of an impediment, Black entrepreneurs, even today, find it difficult to take out business loans. The Stanford Institute of Economic Policy Research found that only 1% of Black entrepreneurs receive a bank loan within their first 7 years of business, compared to 7% of White business owners. And because of redlining, which restricted our access to home ownership, and other issues that have affected our overall household wealth, many Black entrepreneurs often lack collateral or other financial resources that would allow them to start and grow their businesses. I started Juvia’s Place six years ago with just $2,000. I, like so many other Black entrepreneurs, had no access to capital beyond my own limited means. Instead of giving into the limitations, I look outward for inspiration. I found it in a host of Black business owners, especially Black beauty entrepreneurs, that came before me such as Madame CJ Walker.
In addition to the lack of seed money, I also lacked role models-- there are not many Black-owned makeup brands. Over 85% of the dollars spent on ethnic hair and beauty accessories comes from Black consumers. We spend 9x more on this category than any other group. Even still, most of that entrepreneurial spirit focuses on hair care; there are not a lot of African American owned cosmetics companies. I spoke my dream to anyone who would listen, and slowly discovered Black mentors and consultants to help me realize my dream of owning a cosmetic company. I am proud to be a Black-owned makeup brand catering specifically to the unique complexities of Black beauty.
It is important for Blacks to support Black-owned businesses. Not just for accumulation of wealth, but for the ability to create opportunities for us all. One out of every three Black men in America will become imprisoned at some point in his life. These arrests often result in felony convictions which aid to destroy the economic future of so many of our providers. According to the Harvard Business Review, Whites receive 36% more callbacks than Black applicants with the same qualifications. A Black applicant with an arrest record has almost no chance. When you support Black business, you support opening up doors for us all. We understand the conditions under which many of our youth are raised, and understand a record doesn’t always warrant a lifetime of economic suffering. I am proud to be a Black-owned makeup brand that can provide opportunities to other African Americans. In addition to providing job and/or economic opportunities to others, we are also in a position to support civil rights organizations that further help in fighting for justice and equal opportunities. We recently pledged $300k toward the fight for equality.
My business, like Madame CJ Walker’s, was able to flourish because of the economic support received from the Black community. Our stories are possible because of the power of the Black dollar. And it is this same dollar that will aid us in our fight for equal treatment and opportunities. A dollar circulates in the Black community for 6 hours before leaving. Compared to the White community, whose dollar circulates 17 days, or the Asian community, whose dollar circulates for 30 days before leaving their community. The reasons for this are simple yet complex. Foremost, there aren’t enough Black-owned businesses to support our economic output, and we have been brainwashed into believing in our own inadequacies.
Black entrepreneurship is at the heart of the change we want to see. I encourage all of us to support both large and small Black-owned businesses. And most importantly, I encourage those same businesses to give back to the communities that helped them grow, and help upcoming Black businesses get their start.
To show our support for Black beauty and cosmetic businesses, we have listed our favorites here:
NaeNae’s Naturals Hair Products
TPH Hair Products by Taraji P Hensen
Pattern Hair Products by Tracee Ellis Ross