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EDITORIALS

Are Celebrities Destroying The Growth Of Black-Owned Businesses?

Uncle Ben and Aunt May told Peter Parker, “With great power comes great responsibly.” In the black community, that is true. As a small business owner, survival may just count on that. However, there has been a problem as far as reach goes. Where is the main support from black celebrities where small black businesses are concerned?

Case in point. Let’s say you own a clothing line and you either come across a celebrity or they stumble across your IG page, and a conversation is started about them possibly wearing your brand. It all seems good until they hit you with the dreaded “what’s your budget?” What they’re asking you is “how much can you pay them to wear your clothes?” It seems innocent but then you start to realize how jacked up that is.

Most of these celebrities will have no problem dropping $500 on a Gucci or LV shirt but when it comes to a black business, we’re supposed to come out of our pockets to pay them? Where is the logic in that? They feel comfortable paying all that money to support someone already established but will look to charge a black business 3 times that amount for support.

Consumers will spend oodles of cash on a product just because a celebrity either owns or endorses it. But what happens to the small black business? Some start out with just a network of friends and family and hopefully, it grows to the point that it extends outside of that box. But that doesn’t mean that help is not needed. 

Is Ciroc the best-tasting Vodka in the world? Is it head and shoulders better than Ego Vodka which is also black-owned? Yes, Puff has put in that work but it was his name and other celebrities as well that sold the product. Imagine just getting into the business side of things and being told to extend your reach but you’re in constant battle with people like Puff and Jay Z.

But then you think, “Let me send a DM to Beyonce” and you get a reply saying, “What’s your budget?” That might be cool if the small business had Nike resources and could offer a lucrative deal. Now, we know that if a major celebrity were to get your product and endorse it, the payoff could be life-changing. 

That’s not what this piece is about. This is about celebrities supporting everyone but the black-owned business and as soon as a company like Moncler or Prada does something that crosses the line, then those same celebrities are the ones on social media saying let’s boycott them and give back to the community. Well, that boycott has a cycle of 1-2 days before they’re back in the IG stories in the same Moncler or Prada.

It’s hard for a black-owned business to thrive due to companies with deeper pockets. But it’s also hard when your own are turning their backs on you. Most black-owned clothing lines would love to see their product on a show like Power or The Chi, instead, they’re often overlooked in favor of white companies. The same can be said about appearing in music videos. Instead of grabbing the talent in the neighborhood, they would rather rep the trend that’s popping. 

To start a black-owned business, you must fully understand the grind that comes with it. You must be willing to hear 9 no’s before you hear a yes. It’s just how the world works. In a world of influencers, these celebrities will take advantage of the smaller guys while building up the bigger ones and it’s all fair in the name of the almighty dollar.

Remember what LL Cool J did for FUBU, who will be the next person to grab a small clothing line like Richkid Clothing and do the same for them? We must take care of our own cause if we don’t, we’re playing right into their hands. Hate to say it, but the same celebrities we go out of our way to support are not doing the same for us.

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