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 wished to discover a option to advocate for Black individuals to assist them reveal a way of company and energy.
What are you able to do to help native Black-owned companies?
“Protests final for nevertheless lengthy and it’s usually not an issue, as soon as the protest is over, for individuals to get again to enterprise as common,” stated Holts. “My concept was to do one thing that may have an enduring influence — not essentially a destructive boycott-like influence — however a constructive, 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 sources for taking part companies to realize their objectives and construct supportive collaborations.
“We actually do imagine that by fortifying and patronizing Black-owned companies, deliberately, that provides company to the group,” stated Holts.
Throughout the pandemic, BAOBOB and the Uptima Entrepreneur Cooperative supplied steerage to Black-owned companies on easy methods 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 providers 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 opinions on Yelp and Google. However the small area with restricted air flow wasn’t protected to function throughout 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 chargeable for many different kids, in fact, I began excited about what’s subsequent,” stated Obleton.
So Obleton, who stated she “doesn’t hand over simply,” is attempting a variety of 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 out of doors hair care consultations by appointment, and coaching others within the craft of hair braiding. She is at present 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 individuals with hair loss points and passing on her data in holistic hair care to different aspiring stylists.
Coaching is in Obleton’s DNA. For the previous two years she has taught cosmetology abilities resembling 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 individuals,” she stated.
Magnificence business entrepreneurs present resilience
In the meantime, esthetician Micaela Jordan, generally known as “Mika” by her purchasers, proprietor of Mea Beauty, stated she nearly thought-about switching to a different occupation throughout the coronavirus lockdown. She even enrolled in a course on vitamin and considered changing into a dental hygienist earlier than small enterprise emergency grants and unemployment insurance coverage for the self-employed grew to become accessible.
Jordan arrange her Berkeley studio on Solano Avenue in 2014 in a rented area behind Modena Salon, and affords magnificence providers resembling lash extensions, microblading and bridal make-up. The placement is simple to overlook but it surely’s additionally what makes it non-public sufficient to really feel intimate, away from the bustling avenue noise.
“I actually wished purchasers to have an area the place they may come to get their magnificence remedies and sort of have some ‘me’-time away from their busy lives,” she stated.
Throughout the pandemic, Jordan was capable of present private providers for one marriage ceremony. However the principle approach her enterprise stayed afloat was by means of a variety of purchasers who would ship her cash prematurely 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 individuals,” she stated.
Since reopening the studio, enterprise has picked up shortly, welcoming outdated and new patrons alike.
Whereas there have been many variables that left Jordan unprepared throughout the pandemic, she stated that, now, she is planning for future potential emergencies or one other financial downturn. She is constructing a cushion in her financial savings and in search of insurance coverage packages that present help. As soon as she feels extra steady, she hopes to broaden her enterprise to extra places, and create extra YouTube tutorials.
Berkeley’s Black-owned magnificence business is a supply of pleasure
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 convey magnificence to our group.
As we rejoice Juneteenth this weekend, Holts hopes the group won’t solely acknowledge the challenges Black-owned private providers companies have needed to overcome (on account of pandemic-induced well being orders, and traditionally) but additionally the contributions they make to youth training, particular person wellness, and group pleasure.
This story was paid for by the Metropolis of Berkeley’s Office of Economic Development which helps new and established Berkeley companies construct robust connections to the group, navigate native insurance policies, discover inexpensive financing and actual property, and turn into extra sustainable. OED helps entrepreneurs, artists and group organizations really feel welcome in Berkeley and thrive.