As holiday shopping begins, Black business owners hope shoppers don’t forget them

By Curtis Bunn, NBC

shopping bags
Black entrepreneurs who spoke to NBC News said they hardly feel the enthusiastic support of the #BuyBlack movement of 2020. In fact, they say, they feel abandoned. (Kelsea Petersen / NBC News)

April Showers (her real name), a self-described “serial entrepreneur” much of her life, looks at 2020 as a paradox.

George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis and the ensuing social justice movement across the country were “painful and exhausting. Very troubling and a moment in time we won’t forget,” she said. 

For a Black businesswoman, though, the subsequent impact of the protests following Floyd’s death heightened awareness of vast social inequities and inspired the #BuyBlack movement, which encouraged support of Black-owned businesses.

In June 2020, Canadian fashion designer and activist Aurora James reasoned on social media that Black people represent 15% of the “American population and we need to represent 15%” of retailers’ “shelf space.” Companies followed her suggestion, bringing Black-owned brands into their stores and inviting collaborations at unprecedented rates.

Soon, Showers’ online business, Afro Unicorn — a brand she started in 2019 to celebrate the beauty of Black people — tallied record sales. Her products feature unicorns in various shades of brown on clothing, bedding, backpacks and more. 

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But as so-called Black Friday arrives, with sales and promotions for the holidays just about everywhere, Black entrepreneurs who spoke to NBC News said they hardly feel the support of 2020. In fact, they say, they feel abandoned.

Discover what Black business owners have to say.

Milwaukee hosted a market featuring Black sellers for the second year.

More breaking Black news.

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