After a grand jury opted to not indict the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson MI, in 2014, YaVette Holts, an acupressurist and South Berkeley group chief, determined she needed to discover a strategy to advocate for Black folks to assist them show a way of company and energy.
What are you able to do to assist native Black-owned companies?
“Protests final for nevertheless lengthy and it’s usually not an issue, as soon as the protest is over, for folks to get again to enterprise as typical,” mentioned Holts. “My thought was to do one thing that will have an enduring influence — not essentially a unfavourable boycott-like influence — however a optimistic, efficient and unified effort.”
So, that very same yr, Holts based BAOBOB (Bay Space Group of Black Owned Companies), an digital listing of Black-owned companies and a member community that gives assets for taking part companies to attain their targets and construct supportive collaborations.
“We actually do imagine that by fortifying and patronizing Black-owned companies, deliberately, that offers company to the group,” mentioned Holts.
In the course of the pandemic, BAOBOB and the Uptima Entrepreneur Cooperative offered steerage to Black-owned companies on the way to apply for reduction funds and helped them optimize their companies for the long run as a part of the Metropolis of Berkeley Office of Economic Development’s Enterprise Retention Program.
Sadly, the pandemic proved notably difficult for magnificence salons, barber outlets and different private companies companies which, in keeping with BAOBOB, comprise a majority of Berkeley’s Black-owned companies.
Rethinking the enterprise mannequin
Earlier than COVID-19 hit, Sankofa Braiding and Natural Hair Care within the Lorin District had six workers and glowing critiques on Yelp and Google. However the small area with restricted air flow wasn’t protected to function through the pandemic so proprietor Cynthia Obleton needed to rethink her entire enterprise mannequin.
“As a person, a business-minded entrepreneur, a mom, and a lady who’s liable for many different kids, in fact, I began eager about what’s subsequent,” mentioned Obleton.
So Obleton, who mentioned she “doesn’t hand over simply,” is attempting various methods to get a thriving enterprise up and working in Berkeley once more, now that the state has reopened. These embody the launch of a new website that sells her holistic TrichoAfric natural hair and scalp restoration remedy system, providing in-home or outside hair care consultations by appointment, and coaching others within the craft of hair braiding. She is presently fundraising through GoFundMe and figuring out different sources of capital with hopes to reopen her salon in a brand new area in Berkeley so she will be able to get again to serving to folks with hair loss points and passing on her information in holistic hair care to different aspiring stylists.
Coaching is in Obleton’s DNA. For the previous two years she has taught cosmetology abilities equivalent to coloring, braiding, styling and hair care at Laney School part-time. “My dream is to have a holistic and wellness hair care clinic, then to get an area large enough in order that I can have a spot to coach folks,” she mentioned.
Magnificence trade entrepreneurs present resilience
In the meantime, esthetician Micaela Jordan, often called “Mika” by her purchasers, proprietor of Mea Beauty, mentioned she nearly thought of switching to a different career through the coronavirus lockdown. She even enrolled in a course on diet and considered turning into a dental hygienist earlier than small enterprise emergency grants and unemployment insurance coverage for the self-employed turned obtainable.
Jordan arrange her Berkeley studio on Solano Avenue in 2014 in a rented area behind Modena Salon, and affords magnificence companies equivalent to lash extensions, microblading and bridal make-up. The situation is simple to overlook but it surely’s additionally what makes it personal sufficient to really feel intimate, away from the bustling road noise.
“I actually needed purchasers to have an area the place they may come to get their magnificence remedies and type of have some ‘me’-time away from their busy lives,” she mentioned.
In the course of the pandemic, Jordan was in a position to present private companies for one wedding ceremony. However the primary manner her enterprise stayed afloat was by various purchasers who would ship her cash upfront for unscheduled future appointments.
Jordan feels immense gratitude in direction of her patrons.
“My purchasers are an enormous a part of my enterprise being profitable as a result of they’re simply such good folks,” she mentioned.
Since reopening the studio, enterprise has picked up rapidly, welcoming outdated and new patrons alike.
Whereas there have been many variables that left Jordan unprepared through the pandemic, she mentioned that, now, she is planning for future potential emergencies or one other financial downturn. She is constructing a cushion in her financial savings and searching for insurance coverage packages that present assist. As soon as she feels extra secure, she hopes to develop her enterprise to extra areas, and create extra YouTube tutorials.
Berkeley’s Black-owned magnificence trade is a supply of delight
Sankofa Braiding and Mea Magnificence usually are not alone of their demonstration of perseverance; Braid Bar and Beauty, Jesse Porter Barbershop (celebrating 60 years in Berkeley this September), African Braiding-Le Balafon, and Take It Down Salon & Braids all additionally deliver magnificence to our group.
As we have fun Juneteenth this weekend, Holts hopes the group is not going to solely acknowledge the challenges Black-owned private companies companies have needed to overcome (as a result of pandemic-induced well being orders, and traditionally) but additionally the contributions they make to youth training, particular person wellness, and group delight.
This story was paid for by the Metropolis of Berkeley’s Office of Economic Development which helps new and established Berkeley companies construct sturdy connections to the group, navigate native insurance policies, discover reasonably priced financing and actual property, and turn out to be extra sustainable. OED helps entrepreneurs, artists and group organizations really feel welcome in Berkeley and thrive.