(NEW YORK) — August is Black Business Month, which celebrates the Black business owners who make up about 10% of all businesses in the U.S., 35% of those being owned by Black women.
During a challenging time for any small business to stay afloat, Black entrepreneurs faced a set of unique set of challenges. According to the University of California at Santa Cruz Institute for Social Transformation, 17% of white-owned businesses went under only weeks into the pandemic. By comparison, during that same time, 41% of Black-owned businesses closed their doors.
But beyond the “Shop Black” campaigns and trending Instagram hashtags, many Black-owned businesses are thriving.
Business: Dolls, books, satin sleep caps and more
Zoe Oli had trouble accepting herself and her natural hair. Zoe shared with her mom that she “felt different” than her other classmates with straight and what she described as “pretty” hair. Her mom, Evana Oli, decided to soothe her daughter’s anxiety and encourage her to see who she truly is by purchasing her a Black doll that reflected her own appearance.
Zoe really loved the doll but she noticed she didn’t have hair like hers. When her mom returned to the store and couldn’t find any dolls with curls like Zoe, she decided to do something about it. Zoe asked her mom if they could make dolls that she and other girls like her could relate to and Beautiful Curly Me was born.
“Dream big, work hard and never give up. You have to believe you can do anything you set your mind to, and no matter how hard it gets, there is always a way forward,” Zoe told GMA.
Not only does Beautiful Curly Me help empower girls around the world but for every doll purchased, the company donates one doll to an underprivileged girl. Beautiful Curly Me also offers a Gift-a-Doll program for those looking to purchase a doll for another child.
“I want Beautiful Curly Me to be a global brand and to create spaces for girls to play, learn and get empowered,” Zoe shared.
The brand has expanded to include satin sleep caps for kids and their dolls, books and more. To follow along the Beautiful Curly Me journey, check them out on Instagram or visit the website
Business: Stationary and paper goods
Ariel Young started Copper & Brass Paper Goods in 2017 after noticing a lack of diversity in the paper goods industry. She started with wrapping paper and put her company on the map with a Black Santa gift wrap. From there, her business grew to include custom notebooks, pens, pouches and an assortment of office supplies featuring Black imagery.
“As a Black woman and mother, it is equally important to lead by example within my community,” she told GMA. “I want my son and others to see that you can do anything with hard work and determination. I want to create generational wealth as well as a legacy.”
Young has made it her mission to dispel myths and assumptions around Black business owners. “At Copper and Brass Paper Goods, I lead with excellence in everything I do for the company. I’m not a stranger to hard work and I take great pride in producing quality products and offering great customer service,” she said. “As a Black woman entrepreneur, it is my duty to redefine the lens through which Black businesses are often viewed.”
You can follow Copper and Brass on Instagram and its website.
Business: Fine jewelry
Selina King majored in business and fashion and always had a desire to own her own jewelry business.
“Jewelry design is in my blood,” she said. “My father was a self-taught jeweler and I spent a lot of time with him in his studio as a child. When I first began, I was taking apart vintage pieces and redesigning them. My designs ended up being really successful and the line took off from there, eventually evolving into a full-fledged brand.”
Over the past nine years, King has grown her dream into a successful small business.
“I am envisioning expanding into shoes and accessories and possibly clothing. It has always been a dream of mine to have my own storefront,” she told GMA.
“In addition, a huge part of my company from the very beginning has been giving back; it is a major driving force and the heart behind my brand. I currently have an empowerment project where I select women who are exceptional people — who constantly put others before themselves — to shop my website and pick out a gift for themselves.”
“Really, my biggest hopes and dreams for the growth of Selina King are to be able to give back to people on an even larger scale,” she added.
Readers can follow Selina King on Instagram, on Facebook, and the newsletter and website.
Business: Skin care
Da’Zha Frazier, 20, was working at a major skin care retailer when she felt the creative urge to start making her own line of body butter. When she got started creating her own product, she had full control of the formula and tailored it to her skin’s needs and the needs of her potential customers.
“I posted my first batch on my personal Instagram story and my friends/followers asked if I was going to sell it,” she said of the birth of With Love, Imoni.
“As a Black female entrepreneur, I’ve noticed the lack of diversity and inclusion in body and skin care,” she added. “For my first brand photo shoot, I included a variety of models with different skin tones, sexualities and identities. Although With Love, Imoni is an inclusive business, it is important to me that minorities and POC are highlighted.”
“When I first started my business, I didn’t expect it to go anywhere. I didn’t have a budget or a plan and frankly, I am still learning and growing,” she added. “I hope one day I am able to open a warehouse or storefront and have my own team.”
With Love, Imoni will have a summer restock on Aug. 28. You can follow the brand’s journey on its Instagram and website.
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