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Should you hide your blackness to grow your business?

Tell us what you think, should you hide your blackness to grow your business, or let your blackness shine through your business?  

I had a conversation recently with a My Black City sponsor who was working on their business marketing plan for 2022.  They have a great product that people love, and they have excellent reviews.  I have purchased their products and they are great! Unfortunately, they found it difficult to get their product in front of the right people and businesses that would help them expand. Besides not having enough time to market and run the business, the owner said they needed a salesperson.  After asking what type/salesperson they were looking for, they said they wanted one who reflected their target market, a young to middle aged white woman.  When they hire a white woman to be the face of their business, they believe their business will take off.  The owner believes that a white woman’s skin color will be a key to the company’s growth in the marketplace.  Furthermore, they stated that their face does not need to appear anywhere on any branding. 

They seemed to want to separate their brand from being recognized as a black owned business to avoid devaluing and discrediting their business and making it more difficult to market to their target market.  It is not a new sentiment among black business owners.  Matter of fact, its not a new sentiment for many white business owners also, if we are being honest.  In spite of the fact that black business owners highly value their own businesses and products, many of us feel devalued by the way we are treated in a marketplace that looks nothing like us.  We feel we have to discount our products or services, so people will notice us.

Having people look like the general population has merits if you are marketing to the general public.  As black entrepreneurs and business owners, we often feel it’s necessary to remove our presence from our brands, products, and services because it will be more profitable for our pockets.  As important as it is to build a brand and business that are marketable to our target audience, I know that there are people in our black communities who are inspired, motivated, and impacted in immeasurable ways when they see someone who looks like them, running a business.  Most of us see it as a source of hope and inspiration to keep on going. The soul and mental well-being of our communities are refreshed by celebrating black excellence, in a world that seems to devalue it.

Tell us what you think, should you hide your blackness to grow your business, or let your blackness shine through your business?  

Share your reflections at info@myblackcity.org

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John Dodson
4 months ago

Interesting question. My business is 99% white and asian and I’m not sure if most clients know the owners are black. If I’m being honest, the local demographics can make you consider not promoting yourself. However, we decided to step out as owners and speak to our clients consistently. We support this page and other black businesses because it’s important for people to see there are no limits.

Jordan Tahi
4 months ago

Our Blackness is our strength. Just be true to yourself. Great article

Othelia Schultz
4 months ago

My blackness is in everything I do proudly and naturally ! Years ago I was the only black broker at the real estate office I worked at. One day one of the other brokers called myself and others out in a meeting and asked why do we have our pictures on our cards? She said that it is so vain and has nothing to do with selling real estate. I let a few others give their “why”. Then I responded… You don’t have to put your picture on your card because you look exactly like your name, tall, ultra white skin and red hair. You are totally what I would expect to show up at my door if I called you off of your real estate card. I on the other hand look nothing like my name. I will always post my picture because I never want to arrive at a client appointment and they are surprised or worse offended that I am black. Prejudice is still very prevalent and those that would prefer not work with blacks simply will not call and waste my time. Even some of our own people do feel we are “less than the white professional” in many ways… Less Educated- Less Professional- Less Connected- Less Trust Worthy- and the list goes on! For over 20 years my clientele has always been black and likely always will be black, not by design, but for the same reasons others including the original conversation mentioned. However, I would never chose to direct my marketing towards a white audience. That would be equally as systemically racist against my people as what has us answering this question in the first place. Blacks are the second largest consumer group in America, yet we don’t spend those dollars in our own communities, we should keep that in mind. I went on to start a local non-profit for African American professionals to network with one another in order to help them to grow their businesses. For those that are concerned about identifying themselves as black in their business , I think we have to start with our own commitment to seeking out and patronizing the underserved black businesses whenever possible and building those relationships that will in turn feed our own business. I was minding my business now Brandon got me PREACHING! LOL

James L. Hinkle, M.Div.,LCSW

Hi Brandon. Keep up the good work. Identity, values, business, calling, can all come together and require we make hard decisions. Though a white male, I am faced with different decisions about who I am and what I stand for that influence my income. Not the same, of course, but difficult decisions, nonetheless. Thank you for continuing to challenge and support our community with great questions like this.
Peace, Jim

Shawntina Lane
4 months ago

I find marketing my business to all colors, shapes and, sizes is the best way living in a town with only 6% blacks and almost every nationality you can think of lives in Colorado. I’m very familiar with my clientele base and most of my clients are mixed with different nationalities along with black. Marketing depends on what the demographics are like around you. I will never hide my beautifiul black face or pretend to be anything that I’m not. I’m me! I love me and the way God created me and it works!

4 months ago

There is a lot to discuss in this blog:
1. Products: Products are designed to treat, skin, hair, nails etc.. I owned Gladyse Knight Products, and the problems I had was several fold: Let look one:
1. She had her picture on her hair Products, made it hard for my non black clients to believe it would work on their hair.

Regarding imaging: I have always been an inclusive Hair Care Salon for All types of hair and Products in Cherry Chreek. My staffing reflected that and so does my Products, services, quaity, and prices.

Decide who you want for buyers or clients, then build your business with that lnclusion, Products, services , prices and location.

I’m available to mentor any hair business on how to be more inclusive, servicing, or developing their hair care business into all-inclusive business.

Abundance: Polly
720 581 0059

Nina Britton
4 months ago

I find this question very intriguing. I am currently in the process of opening a homecare agency and I’ve debated this issue within myself for some time. I had the concern that sharing my business as black owned, would present some level of covert shunning among my industry peers. I really had to dig deep and reflect on how and why I was opening a business in the first place. I’m not ashamed of being a person of color so why would I hide my business in that manner. I wanted to be true to my calling and true to myself. I decided I needed to succeed on my own terms and that is what I intend to do. My blackness made me who I am and for me, that’s going to be the ” added value” to my business.

Cecelia Mims
4 months ago

I am an older black lady who would have been the child that picked the white doll, if tested back in the 60s, so sad to say. I started a business after retirement, and thought to make money I needed to be the invisible owner. This idea was all due to social conditioning. As I have educated myself in marketing and focusing on my objectives and passions, I know being the invisible owner is not going to make my business flourish. No matter my pass, I’ve learned that I need to follow my heart. I believe in inclusiveness and inclusivity is a value that I want my business, ClayLove, to show. But hide my blackness, that mistake will never happen again. Love the article.

T L Byrd
T L Byrd
4 months ago

I can appreciate Marie’s comment. I retired in 2002 as founder and CEO of the first minority owned(any non white ethnicity) government approved lending institution(Mortgage Company) west of the Mississippi river. I never emphasized nor marketed the company as such in part because my company was rarely supported by minorities despite vigorous efforts to earn their business when I was an executed for another white owned lending entity.

After many years of establishing a sterling track record we were never able to garner the relationships we knew would benefit most of the minority real estate brokers in the region. My senior management team was diverse with women(black & white) and one other male(white). Ironically, my company faced much resistance from some officials within the government because I was the person at the helm and they worked constantly to attempt to close us down. The Point: When you are a minority who is in business and marketing to everyone it cuts both ways. Some whites will not do business with you regardless of your excellent performance and the same goes for other minorities who feel that the ice you sell is not as cold as the ice of your white counterpart.

Though it was common knowledge that my company was black owned, there were persons that despite receiving glowing endorsements from others who were doing business with us and even our competitors, felt that they as minority business practitioners, would be diminished somehow. Conversely, black entities(which included some of these practitioners) looking for charitable contribution, had no issues asking for my company’s support for their agenda.
So in conclusion, try to reach out to everybody but know that you will face both admiration and envy often from the same person.

4 months ago

If it’s about recognition then don’t hide your blakcness. If it’s about the business then do “best practices” whatever that is The real question is the goal to win or to win a certain way? Only the individual owner can decide that.

Linda Mayers
Linda Mayers
4 months ago

Please don’t take away your blackness from me. You motivate me. You contribute to me so much. Why don’t you know that! I am a white 75-year-old redheaded Jewish woman! I don’t know what I’d do without you. When are you going to realize how great you are?

4 months ago

I am a black business women working in predominantly caucasian location .I find it difficult to brand my product and my business. There is a thin line servicing black product in this society it can bankrupt you quickly. I sometimes find myself wanting to be all black if that’s the term we are using but I have to be careful! I find customers coming into my faculty asking do we service ( this type of hair) and I sometimes laugh sometimes I am offended. When I advertise I have to make sure that I am not to blackish/ or to whiteish . I am planning on doing a black history display next month . So pray that goes well for me and not turn customers away but I am tired of not be black!!

4 months ago

God said what is for us will be for us. We should never try to hide or cover who we are in order to prosper

Gretchen Trimble
4 months ago

I am thankful God Made me Black and I will never hide my Blackness. That is what makes my business beautiful and special

4 months ago

We don’t see white businesses advertised as white owned business its implied when the owner introduces themselves. The same should go for black owned businesses. I’m black and I’m a business owner but I don’t attach black on business to what I do. Its implied when I introduce myself. I think when people advertise about being black owned it places them in s box which can heavily impact their bottom line. Just open a business and don’t categorize it by the color of your skin. I believe advertising as a black own business discourages people of other colors from supporters.

Nekoda Stacker
4 months ago

Excellent point!!!! There is a key here

Connie G Brooks
Connie G Brooks
4 months ago
Reply to  Nekoda Stacker

Like it or not we are the change ,we must be ourselves for the change to happen.It will not be easy but those coming behind us have to see us as fierce.
Keep opening those businesses soon it will not matter there will be so many of us.
Strive for excellence,be yourselves God will bless.

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