By: Jennifer Magdalene
The pandemic has created unprecedented opportunities and support for black entrepreneurs as the number of black-owned businesses skyrocketed during the peak of the health crisis. According to a study by MerchantMaverick, black-owned businesses increased by 40% between February 2020 and August 2021. Despite this welcome development, black entrepreneurs still face significant challenges, such as having weaker relationships with banking institutions and facing bias and racism while getting their ventures started. However, most are still determined to succeed, despite experiencing numerous setbacks.
Lately, there has been a lot of buzz about certain black-owned businesses that have become highly successful, due to the ingenuity, creativity, and sheer determination of their owners. Here are the black-owned businesses that are revolutionizing the standard in entrepreneurship.
Hammer & Nails
Due to the challenges of securing funds for their businesses, some aspiring entrepreneurs have turned to shows such as Shark Tank or Dragons Den in the hopes of getting their venture off the ground. Some black entrepreneurs such as Tyla-Simon Crayton of Sienna Sauce and Raquel Graham of Roq Innovation were able to score deals, but others were not so lucky as they faced flat out rejection from the Sharks and Dragons. Nonetheless, they went on to achieve success, and one of the most notable black entrepreneurs who was able to turn their fortunes around is Michael Elliot of Hammer & Nails.
Elliot appeared on Season 6 of Shark Tank in 2014, telling the Sharks about his idea of opening a nail salon designed for men after he failed to find one himself. Kelvin O’Leary told him that his concept wouldn’t work, and while he got a “no” from the Sharks, other investors saw the potential in his business idea. By the middle of 2017, Hammer & Nails was valued at $100 million, and by the end 2021, the grooming shop has expanded its franchise, with more than 30 locations across the US.
Most people who are into designer bags know that branded purses can come with a hefty price, and they can easily cost more than a month’s rent in a major city. But when the Telfar Shopping Bag became the most wanted accessory of 2020 starting at $150 a bag, fashion enthusiasts began to see the appeal of affordable luxury brands, and they marveled at the genius of the brand’s designer, Telfar Clemens.
Clemens, who is originally from Liberia, started his business in 2005, and his iconic bag has been in the market since 2014. But it wasn’t until 2020 when the Shopping Bag finally took off, and celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Lil Nas X were even spotted carrying it. Once Oprah declared the bag, nicknamed the “Bushwick Birkin” as one of her favorite things, it instantly sold out on Amazon. Today, Telfar has a flagship store in New York City, and the bag continues to be a coveted item among the style conscious. The designer also recently introduced a live price model which aims to make his products more accessible for people who love fashion.
There’s a myth that black skin doesn’t burn, but at least 13% of black women and 9% of black men reported getting at least one sunburn per year. Since exposure to sunlight can cause sun damage and skin cancer, UnSun Cosmetics founder Katonya Breaux, who happens to be singer Frank Ocean’s mother, decided to create a tinted mineral sunscreen that won’t leave a white cast on deeper skin tones. It has now become a favorite product of beauty editors, and has gained Allure’s “Best of Beauty” stamp of approval.
Creating products and services with inclusivity in mind is a surefire recipe for success. These black-owned businesses certainly changed the standard in entrepreneurship, and they’re bound to soar even higher in the coming years.