Photo: CEO Kerin John, Black Owned Toronto | Now that the conversation is shifting to focus on ways to support the Black community - we can all agree opening your purse is key. But searching for local Black-owned businesses to support doesn’t have to start at google.
Black Owned Toronto is an online platform and directory dedicated to featuring and supporting Black-owned businesses across Canada and is set to premiere its first physical location in Scarborough Town Centre this Saturday, July 10th at 11 am.
It will be the first of its kind selling Black-owned Canadian products in a major shopping mall in the country, and specifically aims to help new Black-owned businesses gain exposure and a much-needed place to exist.
For Black entrepreneurs in Canada, trying to get shelf space in a major retailer has proven to be a struggle. The 15 percent pledge created by Aurora James in response to the horrific murder of George Floyd, originally called on American retailers and companies to assign 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses to reflect the U.S Black population.
Later, this call was extended to include Canadian retailers and companies where an internal audit conducted by a group of volunteers showed major retailers including Holt Renfrew and Hudson’s Bay allocated less than 1 percent of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses.
A breakthrough for our community, the Black Owned Toronto retail store not only provides an opportunity for growth and prosperity for small Black-owned Canadian companies previously overlooked but stimulates wealth distribution to flow within the Black community.
Featuring over 500 products from 130 Black-owned brands ranging from clothing and skincare to accessories and men's grooming products, this retail store is the one-stop-shop that covers all your needs.
This comes a year and a half after founder and CEO Kerin John started an Instagram account aimed to create space for Black entrepreneurs and small Black-owned businesses in Toronto which quickly gained traction following the Black Lives Matter movement.
With growing popularity, Kerin has since expanded to create an online shop and directory listing Black-owned businesses across Canada and also provides studio space, photography and film services through Black-Owned Toronto’s business hub on King St W.
What You Can Expect Shopping on Black-Owned Toronto
Once you hit the page, you can immediately scroll down and find new products added to the website from various categories. Royaltea’s premium coffee with beans sourced from the rich soils of Africa, Bia’s body butter targeting healing for dried skin using shea butter and Caesar's crown beard oil infused with natural ingredients including vitamin E are amongst the many products featured. You can also find clothing from Black creatives, home decor and games for adults.
Though products are final sale due to COVID-19 restrictions, you can expect your product to be in transit for as little as 2 days when placing your order. With the opening of the Scarborough Town Centre location, Black Owned Toronto also offers free in-store pickup that’s ready within 2 hours.
On top of this, the grand opening of the retail store will have music, giveaways and free gifts for the first 100 customers.
What the Grand Opening Means for the Black community in Canada
As much as Black Owned Toronto has given a win to small Black Canadian businesses, the impact of growth and generating job opportunities in the Black community as a byproduct of these companies flourishing, makes it a win for all of us.
The essence of entrepreneurship is to take control, not only directing your life but the lives of those you wish to influence. Creating a space that exclusively highlights Black entrepreneurship directly challenges the racial wealth gap that plagues our country and leaves Black individuals consistently at the bottom.
Supporting small Black-owned businesses is recognizing your power to influence and affect change on systemic barriers. It’s knowing that as insignificant as it may seem to give your $20 to Aminah selling her homemade candles instead of Bath & Body Works, you are contributing to the empowerment of Black families, Black unity and ultimately Black life.