The Black Lives Matter movement has inspired ripples of change across our nation. These last several months, people of all races and backgrounds have made their voices heard through protesting, voting, and advocating for the Black community. They have also stepped up and shown their support by patronizing Black-owned businesses. In August, we celebrated National Black Business Month, and consumers flooded social media feeds with hashtags like #BuyBlack and #BuyBlackOwned. As we approach the holiday season, a critical time for small businesses, I’d like to encourage our community to continue to lift Black voices, leaders, and businesses.
I was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria where I lived until I was 16, at which point I moved to the U.S. to attend college. I graduated with my bachelor’s and master’s degree in accounting and am a tax accountant by day, and an entrepreneur by night. As an avid traveler, I have always had a passion for learning about different people and places, a deep appreciation for cultural diversity, and a desire to harness those experiences to make the world a better place.
I launched my startup sleepwear brand, Ejona Label, in August of 2019 as a way to merge my passions into a brand that is socially responsible and has an appreciation for the beauty and wonder the world has to offer. Ejona is a modern sleepwear brand designed specifically for women. Our sleepwear features 100 percent silk charmeuse – a beautiful high-quality fabric that is soft to the touch and machine washable. During these challenging times, our sleepwear offers a special comfort for women — and I hope a sense of much needed calm and peace to each day.
Black-owned businesses have been hit especially hard by the pandemic, closing at twice the rate of other small businesses. And according to the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., more than 40 percent of all Black-owned businesses closed this year. Although we have had to shift our business strategy and products due to COVID-19 by cancelling in-person pop-ups and providing free local delivery, I am fortunate Ejona continues to grow and expand our customer base.
Hundreds of small businesses in Houston – and across the country – have not been as lucky. For those looking to show their support, I encourage them to research, discover, and purchase products from local Black Businesses. Facebook and Instagram recently updated their Businesses Nearby tool to make it easier to identify and support Black-owned businesses in your area. Facebook also launched the #BuyBlackFriday campaign this month to bring greater attention to Black-owned businesses.
Leveraging the popular Black Friday discount day, Facebook created a #BuyBlack Friday Gift Guide, which features products from Black-owned businesses from across the country, including our popular Tiwa Silk Short Set. Since being featured in Facebook’s #BuyBlack Friday Gift Guide, we’ve seen an increase of 15% in e-commerce sales. Additionally, the online marketplace, Etsy, is featuring curated gifts crafted by Black-owned shops and sellers.
Locally, the Greater Houston Black Chamber provides more than 500 listings of Black-owned businesses in the greater Houston area in its Buy Black Directory. In addition, TheHoustonBlackPages.com features an online directory promoting black and minority businesses, events, and resources around Houston.
As a champion for Black empowerment and avid supporter of small businesses, I hope these resources continue to shine a light on the Black business community and will help others find brands like mine. As you’re looking for the perfect present for your friends or family this holiday season, I encourage you to skip the big box and online retailers and shop small.
By buying Black, you’re not only supporting entrepreneurs and their dreams, but you’re uplifting the greater Black business community, a critical component to the cultural fabric of this city.