After a wave of attention, what next for brands owned by blacks?


While individual consumers can be fickle, greater efforts to tackle inequalities can have a lasting effect. In just over a year since its inception, the 15 Percent Pledge has made strides among retailers: Sephora has more than doubled its assortment of black-owned brands, according to the organization, and the company has also accepted eight founders of BIPOC for its 2021. incubator program, all of which will be sold to Sephora.

Macy’s, another large retailer that has made the pledge, has increased the number of black-owned brands by more than 250%. Rent the Runway, Moda Operandi, Madewell, and West Elm all increased theirs by 200% or more. In total, nearly 385 black-owned businesses launched products at major retailers in the first two quarters of 2021.

Other campaigns include Pharrell Williams’ nonprofit Black Ambition, which awarded more than $ 15,000 in July to more than 30 black and Latin business founders. An entrepreneur won the Black Ambition Prize, worth $ 1 million.

In 2020, Third Love, an inclusive underwear brand, launched the TL Effect, an in-house mentoring program that supports women entrepreneurs of color with resources, mentorship and a $ 20,000 cash grant. TL Effect recently accepted applications from a third cohort and plans to continue the program indefinitely.

In April, Target pledged to spend $ 2 billion with black-owned businesses by 2025 and established the Forward Founders program. She received 300% more applications than expected and the company is preparing to open applications for its second cohort.

Gap has pledged to increase its hiring programs by 15% as part of the company’s 2025 Equality and Belonging Commitments, and the company says it has already achieved that goal.

Xiomara Rosa-Tedla, co-founder of the handbag brand Unoeth, with an Unoeth backpack

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All of this is encouraging, but the BIPOC companies, fundamentally, still need customers. Business owners such as Xiomara Rosa-Tedla, co-founder with her father of handbag brand Unoeth, and Rashima Sonson, of sustainable bowtie brand Sonson, say they are grateful for the visibility, but struggle to plan for the future in the wake of BLM.

The Covid-19 pandemic has set back many entrepreneurial projects. “Amid the pandemic, black-owned businesses have had to close at more than twice the rate of white businesses,” notes Jessa Williams, co-founder and director of partnerships at Represent Collaborative. “It’s more important than ever to think about how your hard-earned money is being spent. “

Akilah Cadet explains why: “When you take the time to be intentional about where you spend your money, you dismantle oppressive infrastructure and white supremacy. “

Comments, questions or feedback? Write to us at [email protected].

More on this topic:

Lacking financial support, black-owned businesses suffer

How three black designers around the world make it work

Why big retailers are finally stocking more black-owned brands

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