Running Almost Studios or any small business venture is no small feat. It takes planning, marketing, and most importantly, it takes money. Historically black and brown people are left out of the funding part of this equation. We always have to make do with what we have.
Before I started Almost Studios, I was working in tech. I thought about going out on my own, finding clients, and exchanging a six-figure salary for a bit more creative freedom. I never really thought about myself as a black small business owner. All I wanted to do, and still do, is make dope things that people like. Growing up my parents were small business owners, who owned an art gallery. I had an idea of how difficult owning a small business can be, especially being black. Still, I never knew the history and the systematic rejection of all things black in business.
It wasn't until it came time to find financing for new equipment to help start my venture into ownership that left me questioning, “Why I am getting rejected from major banks when I have good credit?” Getting a small business loan as a minority seemed impossible. I was determined to get the equipment I needed, so when they shut the door in my face, I worked with what I had to bypass the gatekeepers.
I'm fortunate that things worked out for me, but it got me thinking about a lot of black business owners for whom it doesn't work out. And how many are forced to close or take high-interest loans that no matter how successful they are will eat into their profits. So you won't ever break even. It felt like the whole mental effect of being turned down from these resources is meant for you to give up.
Coronavirus has only made this plight for access to resources even more significant. Corona has affected us in many ways, 40% of black-owned small businesses in the US were shut in April, compared to 17% of those with white owners and 22% overall. With banks not lending money to these businesses, many of them will go under, or worse fall into debt to stay afloat.
Here's is how you can help.
So what can we do for those who started their business despite the odds against them?
Hype up black business
I thoroughly encourage people to try new things and new products. When you try these new things, please share them with people. Use social media to spread the word, as much as I loathe Yelp write reviews on goods and services. Talking about black-owned products gives access that a lot of small minority-owned places won't be able to have.
Donate your time to black business.
If you own a marketing firm and know of small businesses locally that are good and just need some help with marketing, donate your services. If you're a designer or writer, donate services or work out an exchange of goods.
Give black products shelf space.
I mean, really give black products shelf space, do not lock them behind the cashier. Growing up in Ohio, I would never go to Walmart to buy anything for my hair because they never catered to black people.
Buy black Products
It's that simple. Support business with your money.
Here a few businesses that I use and recommend.
Hair & Skincare
Food & Drink