|Support Black businesses through social media during pandemic|
|Online connections can help them remain viable|
|Published Monday, March 29, 2021 12:20 pm|
|COURTESY TAYLOR WILLINGHAM|
|Taylor Willingham opened Charlotte-based AromaCarepy during the COVID-19 pandemic and advocates for digital support of Black-owned businesses.|
With the pandemic continuing well into 2021, one specific group within the community that needs support right now are Black-owned businesses.
As a Black entrepreneur, I witness first-hand the important role Black-owned businesses play in strengthening our communities and the challenges they encounter in the process.
In February 2020, I was laid off from my full-time job in human resources. A few weeks later, the world seemingly stopped turning as COVID-19 began shutting down businesses around the globe.
With a family at home to provide for, I decided to focus on the one thing that I was in control of: me. I turned to self-care as a means of ensuring that I could continue pushing through the challenges of our new reality.
At that moment, it dawned on me that what the world needs more of right now is self-care. I knew that I was far from alone in dealing with this odd transition into this “new normal.” So, I identified a niche opportunity to create self-care products for people to use that didn’t force them to step outside of their daily routines: shower fizzies that turn your shower into your personal spa, pillow spray with aromas to help you relax at night and an array of other wellness items that make self-care a breeze. And thus, The AromaCarepy Co. was born.
Not only had I dared to open a business in times of economic turmoil, but I did so as a Black female business owner. It’s no secret that the racial wealth gap faced by Black Americans is due to a historical lack of access to business and financial assets. Even when Black-owned businesses do launch, they are often not afforded the same level of stability. By May 2020, the economic shutdown brought on by the pandemic had already reduced the number of Black business owners in the United States by more than 40%.
Despite this devastating reality, the pandemic provided the time for me to hone my craft and launch my business, but I still needed to create a clientele. That’s why I turned to – and since have attributed much of my company’s success to - social media.
As my business continued to grow, I started using Instagram and other online channels to market my products. The free tools like Instagram Reels and Shops have gotten my content in front of more than 700,000 people in less than a year. My business now has a following of more than 4,000 people on Instagram, with almost 50% of my sales coming through my Instagram Shop in 2020 alone.
If someone had told me a year ago that I would be where I am now, I am not sure I would have believed them. I’ve created a solid customer base, joined a community of small business owners in the Charlotte area and made space in the market for my products and my brand. So, if you’re an entrepreneur, I invite you to embrace the opportunities that lie at your fingertips - the digital world.
To the rest of my community – I encourage you to seek out local Black-owned businesses and support them in any way that you can. Follow and support them on social media, leave reviews, talk to your friends about why it matters to support Black-owned businesses. This kind of momentum is necessary to tackle these bigger, deeper issues. Join us in this effort.
Taylor Willingham is owner of The AromaCarepy Co. in Charlotte.
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