Black-owned businesses face extra pressures

Sticker created to support Black businesses.Photo courtesy TeePublic

As a proud member of the Black community, it is important to spread the message of looking out for each other as we all want to accomplish our goals. Regardless of how big or small our dreams, discrimination is used to demean our community. Supporting Black-owned businesses is always a pleasure, but having to deal with their unfortunate circumstances can be a pain.

For those who have dealt with Black-owned businesses that have a lack of communication, unfair expectations, disrespect or terrible quality, you are not alone. Customers have been facing this issue that has rarely been addressed. Not acknowledging these problems promotes  stereotypes and a slim chance of finding a solution.

Azaria Austin, a student at Florida A&M University, was in need of help from College Boutique, formally known as Rattler Apparel.

“I commissioned them to make a special edition Halloween mask and shirts for our junior class CAB Halloween events. We came up with the design and everything,” Austin said. “We sent them email after email and no response.”

College Boutique is a popular Black-owned business that sells trending HBCU merchandise, but mainly to students of Florida A&M University. Although it’s popular, it is still important to reach out to customers and answer their questions within a 48-hour period.

Kayla Stanton is a student at Florida A&M University and owner of Slayed by Kay, a hair braiding service since 2017. Stanton was inspired to form her business by her mother and her upbringing. Stanton said that growing up at predominately white schools allowed her to take pride in herself and her identity and she wanted to display her talent to other Black women so they can say they were, “Slayed by Kay.”

Stanton said that there’s work behind the scenes that customers do not see that is required to keep the business afloat and moving smoothly.

“It can become difficult to consistently pay for hair products and other styling necessities when you have the hardship of being a college student paying for your endeavors,” Stanton said.

Stanton says that she has not faced any issues with her customers, and that she needs us to continue doing our part and support Black-owned businesses — but with reassurance on certain things.

“I think it is important for Black-owned businesses to focus on ensuring the best customer service for their customers, as that has been a known critique of Black-owned businesses,” Stanton said. “It starts with the business owners themselves, by willing to accept critiques, or even asking customers to fill out a survey on their experiences.”

Morgan Tucker is owner of Sweet on the Geaux, a Black-owned business that provides sweet foods such as brownies, chocolate strawberries, candied grapes, etc. Tucker is also a student and resident assistant at FAMU who balances her academics and her business.

Tucker says that she has faced issues with customers. But she cares about providing the best customer service because they will always remember it and spread it to their local community.

“On Valentine’s Day I had a lot of orders. It was rough, I did not sleep,” Tucker said. “One of my customers was upset that their strawberries did not look like the promoted product.  I simply didn’t have the correct boxes.”

Tucker said her care for the customer is important because she wants to continue thriving on selling delicious and affordable sweets. She also believes that Black-owned businesses should not be blamed for not being up to par.

“I think that every business has their stages where they may struggle.  I don’t think it’s just targeted at Black business,” Tucker said. “I think they should focus on creating great products and having good customer service, I think that is something people stand by and want to see.”

Even though any business has had its problems, the Black-owned businesses have to work harder in order to thrive because of other people who prey on their downfall. It starts with the customers, with their bad experience comes with their flash memory being revealed to others, which can result in losing customers and possibly future business.

The solution to ending these issues with Black-owned businesses is to be able to view things from their perspective and try to understand that we are all human. We as Black people have to work harder just to find or create our spot in the world of success.