The Hunt For Black Gold
I last wrote about the importance of time management because I am about to shake up my life a little. However, I want to share an important journey, where I challenge myself to buy from black owned businesses only, wherever, whenever for an entire month. It is important to support black businesses, find where the gaps are in bespoke areas and are open about challenges. I soon learned that finding bespoke businesses would take a lot of research. Trying to find a petrol station, a launderette, or a black run optician is not an instant find. The Hunt For Black Gold, The Challenge to buy from black businesses.
What does it mean to buy black?
Someone commented that a true black owned product made by black people and sold by a black retailer. They felt that even when a black owned product is sold by a retailer that isn’t black owned, it doesn’t fully count. They felt that big companies which buy black owned products at cheap prices, sell them for a high value, which builds their status and lines their pockets whilst black people continue to struggle.
Why is it important to buy from black businesses?
I recall the disturbance in Birmingham between the Black and Asian communities. A rumour about a young black teenage girl being raped by Asian hair shop owners, sparked riots in 2005. There were complaints nationwide where black customers experience negative treatment by men that work in hair shops (to find out more read here). Very few hair and beauty shops sell hair care products for black people, by black people, where customers can get advice from those who understand Afro hair, as one product is not for all. Customers are more inclined to take product advice from staff who understand Afro hair, rather than pressure them into buying high-end brands that are unsuitable.
The Hunt For Black Gold, The Challenge to buy from black businesses is important because representation matters, to know bespoke areas where the owners look like me. I drive, yet I have never been to a black owned petrol station. Yet, I can easily find a rave organised by a black events company. However, it’s harder to find a centrally located black owned bar to go for a drink after work. My salary and savings do not go into black owned bank accounts, although they do exist.
One afternoon I visited my local Afro-Caribbean convenience store. The friendly manager helped me to select all of the essentials to make Guinness punch and ackee and saltfish. When I got to the till I was short of money and told to pay later. Although I had been there before, the helpfulness and kindness have not always been my experience elsewhere.
It is important as I wrote previously, to build relationships with business owners who are passionate about their brand and include black customers. It is also important to build trust, as I experienced in my local shop. Also as someone commented about what it meant to buy black owned – reinvesting into the black community to help independent or start up companies and organisations grow.
The journey so far
I have been disciplined about where I spend. It’s like fasting, where immediate gratification is limited, as there are limited places to shop. I normally buy a two-litre bottle of water each morning from M&S on my way to into the office, as it is convenient. However, now I’m not inclined to spend money just because somewhere is in sight. It is less convenient spending power, however, this isn’t a bad thing because I am learning about my spending habits for things I may not need.
I have paid slightly more by spending in independent companies; however, my spending is less sporadic overall because there is less choice. I find I have to prepare well and ensure I bring lunch to work. The area in King’s Cross where I work either has food chains or as you may guess – are not black companies, even when independent.
For my belated birthday lunch with two colleagues, we got on the tube to Camden and ate at Mango Room. At the time this was the nearest area I knew that had a few black owned restaurants. When we arrived we were told what was unavailable, which is a common stereotype for a Caribbean restaurant. However, after ordering, those choices were also unavailable. Our food finally arrived hot, fresh and very flavoursome, although the portions were small. For lunchtime, I expected an express service, particularly as we were only the second group of customers and most of the lunchtime menu was unavailable. The service was good and I will visit again. Just not when I am in a rush to go back to work.
Niche business areas
Fruit and veg delivery boxes are very popular as they provide a healthy and convenient way to shop and eat. I previously had a subscription, however, a lot of the ingredients went to waste, as the contents were not what I liked to cook. The launch of KJI Fruit and Veg delivery service is about to change that. If they delivered in London, I’d be able to cook with all of the ingredients. I’ve learned that it’s not always convenient to shop at a black owned business. It is, however, positive to acknowledge a service included in a niche market, which include the needs of the black clientele.
I will continue to buy from only black owned companies and services for the rest of the month whenever, wherever. There is a lot more research that I need to do to find bespoke businesses. Also where to locate them, such as contacting community members and leaders. I may find myself travelling across London. However, I am up for the challenge, as it is important for me to find out and share. Get in touch if you can help me on this journey by recommending brands and services. I’m looking for black owned everything. This includes bespoke services (opticians, petrol stations, pharmacists), restaurants, bars, leisure activities and creative spaces to blog over treats.
Comment below and let me know your thoughts on The Hunt For Black Gold, The Challenge to buy from black businesses.
MUA: Dolly Essence Beauty
*Mango Lounge, Camden: http://www.mangoroom.co.uk *the venue has since closed, more info in this article http://camdennewjournal.com/article/an-era-ends-for-derek
Read more about the challenge in the related posts.
[updated Thursday 10 August 2017]