DETROIT – In the past few weeks we’ve heard a lot of talk about supporting Black-owned businesses especially during the month of August.
Local 4′s Evrod Cassimy sat down with several Black businesses owners and they explained why it’s so important now more than ever.
You’ve likely seen the t-shirts featuring the slogan “Detroit is the New Black.” A look inside the incredibly popular store along Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit shows it’s more than just a slogan. Products like t-shirts and sweatshirts, air fresheners and essential oils. The person behind the now iconic brand is Roslyn Karamoko, a Black woman.
“It came from my mind!” Roslyn explained. “It really was just an expression around you know the future of Detroit but also incorporating the history of Detroit and Black people in Detroit which is the majority demographic here.”
Believe it or not, she never thought the business would take off the way it did. It started as a gift.
“When I started, I literally just printed ten shirts and gave them to my friends for Christmas and they wore them and it took and people started to ask and so it kind of just evolved into this hyper local co-op shop,” she explained.
Just down the Lodge off Evergreen, Tiffany Love gets her hair cut at Hairshon Hair Salon. Master stylist Rodney Howell is the mastermind behind this Black owned business.
“I have a great team here at Hairshon Hair Salon,” said Rodney. “We’re professional. The atmosphere is professional. We’re gonna take care of all of our customers that come in.”
While both Roslyn and Rodney have been in business for years, being a Black owned business is not without its challenges especially during a pandemic.
“Funding is a huge one,” said Roslyn. “So being able just to raise properly or garner the proper partnerships, strategic partnerships to scale your business.”
“I went to get a loan before the pandemic thing and sometimes we’re racially profiled and depending on the area that you live in and a lot of times the loans aren’t available for us so that we can get businesses,” Rodney answered.
“When you don’t look like the people in the room or when you don’t look like the other CEOs and you’re not maybe taken as seriously or you’re not respected in certain situations,” Roslyn replied.
“In the Black community often times I think we don’t really push entrepreneurship the way that we should,” said Detroit District 5 Councilwoman Mary Sheffield.
Mary Sheffield is an advocate for supporting Black owned businesses. Her father, Reverend Horace Sheffield is the head of the Detroit Association of Black Organizations.
“We’re left behind and so when we do have the opportunity to see small businesses and Black businesses with the opportunity to create generational wealth for their families it is so important that we support those businesses and provide economic opportunities for the business owners and their families and that trickles down to generational wealth,” Mary added.
“If we can support our businesses we can grow our economy,” said Reverend Horace Sheffield. “People can go to work. The sense of independence when you have your own, people treat you differently.”
And can help move the needle when it comes to systemic racism.
And while our country continues to fight for justice everywhere, a board once used to protect the Detroit is the New Black storefront from violent protests is now the center piece of the store to serve as a reminder of what those protests were really about -- the many Black men and women who lost their lives and the fight for racial equality.
These business owners believe in supporting Black-owned business so much they’re even putting their money where their mouth is. Detroit is the New Black is offering a special gift with purchase to the first 50 customers who come by the shop -- Just mention this story.
Hairshon Hair Salon is offering 10% off every service for new clients now through August 15th.
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