LOS ANGELES — A group of local Black business owners were joined by a few Hollywood celebrities Dec. 11 for a pop-up market in downtown Los Angeles.
The ByBlack Bazaar featured 16 Black-owned businesses. The event was curated by “Insecure” actress Issa Rae in partnership with American Express.
“We have only scratched the surface of the collective power of Black businesses, so I am excited to join American Express and the U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce to shine a light on the opportunities ByBlack presents,” Rae said. “ByBlack is a powerful platform that connects Black business owners with new revenue streams and helps all of us find and shop at standout businesses. Together we can spread the word to support small Black businesses.”
The U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce partnered with American Express and announced the expansion of ByBlack with the first national certification program exclusively for Black-ownership designation.
“The U.S. Black Chambers Inc.’s goal with ByBlack is to connect the diverse universe of Black businesses and remove the barriers corporations have in finding and supporting them,” said Alicea Gay, ByBlack/U.S. Black Chambers Inc. project manager. “Whether you are a business that sells hair care products, develops the newest widgets in technology, provides consulting services or runs a local candle shop, we are a platform that fosters community, search and discovery across the vast industries we serve.
“The ByBlack Bazaar is an extension of that in showing that no matter what city you live in, Black-owned business are in your own backyard, and supporting Black-owned small businesses means giving back to your community. We hope that ByBlack helps increase confidence and ease in supporting bonafide Black-owned businesses.”
Data shows that consumers are interested in purchasing from Black-owned businesses and are always seeking ways to connect with them.
“According to our Shop Small Impact Survey, 78% of small businesses say holiday sales will impact their ability to keep their doors open in 2022, and knowing that minority-owned small businesses have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, we wanted to help these Black-owned small businesses, many of whom don’t have a brick and mortar [location], by connecting them with customers at the ByBlack Bazaar,” said Walter Frye, vice president of global brand engagement at American Express.
A reporter spoke to vendors who all echoed the need to not only support Black creatives and their businesses, but also to be patient as many don’t operate in the same manner as other businesses.
“A lot of us aren’t afforded the luxury of trust funds and financing and minorities are building from the ground up,” said Marquise Miller, of Millers Room, a supplier of vintage goods.
“Black creatives drive culture and many times we create trends and aren’t properly recognized, although others benefit from our creativity,” said Amorette Brooms of Queen Boutique. “I had a fashion retail store, and during COVID I pivoted and became passionate about plants and sold out of 100 plants in one hour.”
Broom’s store is located on Pico Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, across from Roscoes.
Ezinne Iroanya left her job with Dior to bring her luxury bodycare line SKNMUSE to market.
“After working with Dior, and having to travel outside of my neighborhood to purchase products, I found it necessary to bring representation in the beauty space to my community,” Iroanya said.
The SKNMUSE line includes body butters, body oils and scented candles.
The pop-up market began with a brunch featuring performances by R&B recording artists Robert Glasper and Bj the Chicago Kid and featured a range of Black-owned beverages including Ciroc, Uncle Nearest, and Crown and Hops, a brewery which will open soon in the city of Inglewood.
“It’s important to support Black businesses because it supports racial equity, which is a strategy for economic growth,” said Teo Hunter. The company announced it will enter a 14,000-square-foot location not far from SoFi Stadium that was once home to a teen club and adult day care center.
Overall, all attendees on hand to support the ByBlack Bazaar are aware of the importance of shining a light on Black creatives and lending their support whenever possible.
“The inception of everything we have traces back to a Black person,” said Jermaine Crawford, an actor from the critically acclaimed show, “The Wire.” “I recently relocated to Los Angeles and made sure to stop by and show love to these amazing businesses.”
Crawford can be seen on “We Own This City,” a new miniseries from “The Wire” creator David Simon, which will chronicle the rise and fall of the Baltimore Police Department’s Gun Trace Task Force, which will premiere on HBO in 2022.
“Owning a business is part of the American dream and room for everyone to flourish,” said actor Michael Ealy. “If we support our own, and everyone, as opposed to just who we know, these are the types of events that bring out vendors and Black-owned businesses you don’t know about and you should.”
Businesses can begin the ByBlack certification process or create a directory profile by visiting https://usblackchambers.org/certification.
2 Urban Girls is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers the Compton and Inglewood areas. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.