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#BuyingBlack Is Imperative. Here’s How I’m Doing My Part.

How Arc Junior Copywriter Denise Akerman is leveraging e-Commerce to change her spending behavior.

Reality check: We’re only part way through August, yet it feels like we’ve squeezed eighteen months into the last seven. The COVID-19 pandemic seemed to pull the last thread in the loosely knit sociocultural fabric of our nation, as the Black Lives Matter movement and clarion calls for justice and racial equality sparked new discourse in the nation, and around the world.

I knew I wanted to do my part to support the movement, but I wasn’t sure where to start; the array of options can feel overwhelming. It was upon reading about Black Wall Street’s “Buy Black” thirty-day challenge that began on Juneteenth—a holiday celebrating the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the U.S.—that I became inspired in the action I wanted to take.

I decided I wanted to use my purse strings to effect change in my own way, tailoring my shopping habits to align with my interests and values. Thankfully, it’s a process that has become easier with the growth of the e-commerce space. From Beauty Bakerie and Golde, to Maya’s Cookies, Blk & Bolde and Partake, learn more about my journey to support Black artists, creators and entrepreneurs with my purchasing powers.

Beauty Bakerie
Beauty Bakerie, a cruelty-free makeup brand created by CEO Cashmere Nicole in 2011, is an indie favorite. The beauty industry has often catered to and helped propagate a narrow set of beauty standards. Makeup brands have been notoriously terrible at providing a full range of foundation shades for all skin colors, but Beauty Bakerie has its own Foundation Finder module with a generous range of shades to make makeup accessible to everyone. The website also has its own “Black Lives Matter” tab with helpful resources and donation links.
After purchasing a highlighter set from Beauty Bakery to help address all Zoom call presentation needs, I quickly moved on to perusing Trinity Mouzon, founder and CEO, created the company to help make self-care more accessible, inclusive and fun. “Wellness” and “self-care” are somewhat nebulous labels that have taken off, particularly in the e-commerce space, but have often been cost-prohibitive and homogenous in nature. Companies like Golde are helping diversify these spaces. And it goes one step further: researching “Black-owned vegan skincare brands” nets out dozens of results. Often these values (fair-trade, cruelty-free) intersect for people, as they do for me, and Black entrepreneurs are at the forefront.

Maya’s Cookies
I found the Maya’s Cookies site through a VegNews article about Black-owned vegan bakeries that ship nationwide. A friend of mine in Chicago was having a stressful week at work, so I decided to cheer her up by sending her the half-dozen sampler pack, which included everything from perennial favorite Chocolate Chip to Funfetti. The special touch of an independent bakery is unmatched by even the greatest store-bought pastry, and I suggest giving them a look when your sweet tooth comes knocking.

For people unfamiliar with buying from small biz e-commerce sites, the possibility of delays, wrong orders and other factors can make it daunting. Not to fear: I found a variety of Black-owned brands sold on and at brick-and-mortar stores nationwide, proving that buying Black is really as simple as paying a visit to your favorite department stores. Target has now added a “badge” to identify their Black-owned or founded brands, and others are following suit.

I found two brands I will be picking up whenever I make my next Target run: fair-trade roastery Blk & Bold, a company all about the good—giving good coffee, and doing good for the community, with 5% of all sales going to nonprofit organizations that support at-risk youth. I also purchased a box of “Partake” cookies in the Birthday Cake flavor, a brand dedicated to giving everyone, no matter what dietary restriction they may have, a delicious, healthy snack. Community-building goes hand-in-hand with fostering growth and opportunity for Black businesses.

#BuyingBlack Is Imperative. Here’s How I’m Doing My Part.

Buying sustainable, ethical, cruelty-free items to use and love, and supporting burgeoning Black entrepreneurs and artists to further their opportunities to create and grow is a no-brainer. The best part? Simply switching just one or two items you’d normally buy from a megacorporation to a small business helps enrich so many. Often, that’s reward enough.

August 25, 2020