Approximately 18.3%--or 1 million—of U.S. businesses are minority-owned, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data. Black or African Americans owned approximately 124,551 businesses throughout the U.S. Although that’s a sizeable portion of the market, that still means shoppers who want to support Black-owned businesses have to do some extra work just to locate those products—and it’s gotten harder over the last year thanks to COVID’s effect.
“Black-owned businesses declined by 41% between February and April 2020, compared with a 17% decline among White-owned businesses,” says CNBC's Dymond Green.
Finding and supporting Black-owned businesses can be difficult for shoppers, but if you’re looking specifically for wellness products, that task can feel even more difficult. Fortunately, the wellness industry has stepped up over the last year and found ways to highlight those businesses and make discovery easy for shoppers. For example, 9 companies came together to create The Empower Project with the purpose of amplifying Black-owned businesses by providing resources, services, and in order to help them succeed and have the tools necessary to compete in a crowded market.
Retailers can also do their part and make life easier for shoppers looking to support Black-owned businesses with their dollars. We’ve put together a list of 11 Black-owned wellness brands that create delicious and good-for-you snacks, meals, and beverages.
Honey water has long been a staple of diets throughout the world for many generations and even a home remedy, and now it’s a ready-to-drink beverage shoppers can easily enjoy. Free of high fructose corn syrup, refined white sugar, and artificial sweeteners, Bee’s Water is a tasty drink that also offers immunity-boosting ingredients like vitamins A, C, and E.
Chicago French Press
Kris Christian went from a Wall Street analyst in search of a good cup of coffee to the founder of Chicago French Press, a business that makes premium fair-trade, non-GMO coffee to easier for anyone to find. In addition to improving your morning cup of coffee, Chicago French Press gives back by donating 5% of every bag sold to 501(c)3 organizations.
A Dozen Cousins
Ibraheem Basir wanted to enjoy the Creole, Caribbean, and Latin American foods of his youth without all the unnatural ingredients, so he started A Dozen Cousins. Using traditional Black and Latino recipes and quality, natural ingredients, Basir created a line of packaged beans that taste good and are good for you. Plus, the company provides a grant and other support for NPOs trying to eliminate socio-economic health disparities.
Global Village Foods
Damaris Hall and Mel Hall’s African-inspired cuisine began to attract patrons at local events in their home state of Vermont, and they put their culinary skills to even better use after they had a child with severe food allergies. To compensate for the lack of viable meal options, they decided to create African-inspired allergy-friendly, vegan, and gluten-free meals that everyone could enjoy. Now, food allergies won’t prevent anyone from enjoying meals like Swahili-inspired Curry Chicken or Chickpea Vegetarian Tajine.
Hella Cocktail Co.
Hella Cocktail Co.’s co-founders believe everyone can be their own mixologist with the right ingredients and helpful tips. Their lineup of bitters, sodas, and mixers are designed to appeal to your high standards for great cocktails while also providing ingredients that boost healthy digestion and anti-inflammation. Plus, the company doesn’t use any artificial flavors, preservatives, or high-fructose corn syrup, and relies on pure cane sugar, fruit juice concentrates, and other natural ingredients for its tasty recipes.
Toyin Kolawole began Iya Foods in order to share the great flavors of African cuisine while also highlighting the rich culture behind the food. From flours and baking mixes to seasonings and powders, Iya Foods offers a product lineup that makes any pantry better while also supporting local growers, relying on energy efficient production methods, and reducing poverty by partnering with brands who share their same values.
Justice of the Pies
Maya-Camille Broussard began Justice of the Pies to honor her late father who was a criminal defense attorney and a fan of great pies. This background comes through in their company’s mission “to positively impact the lives of those who work with us.” The company doesn’t just make a variety of pies, tarts, and quiches; it partners with organizations that help students gain a healthier relationship to food and nutrition, as well as an organization that provides legal funds to people who have been adversely affected by the criminal justice system.
Love Cork Screw
Chrishon Lampley’s enthusiasm for good wine led her to start Love Cork Screw, a lifestyle brand that not only offers vegan wines for all taste palates but also body care items and candles. Lampley is also using her business to empower others by mentoring young women and entrepreneurs.
Sisters Robin and Andréa McBride grew up in separate wine regions (California and New Zealand) but came together to create a line of wines that cover the spectrum from classics to innovative. Just as notable is how the McBrides have used their business to help others in multiple ways, including the SHE CAN Professional Development Fund aimed at promoting the professional development of women in the wine industry.
Cookies and tasty snacks aren’t often synonymous with healthy or allergen-friendly, but that’s what Partake Foods founder Denise Woodward wanted for her daughter who was diagnosed with food allergies. Now, her company’s lineup of foods and baking mixes is free of common allergens, preservatives, artificial flavors, and GMOs, so more people can enjoy the comfort of a good dessert.
When Jordan Buckner and his co-founders realized they couldn’t find many healthy snacks that kept them focused at work without all the added ingredients. They found what they wanted in superfoods, like tea, which have the natural ingredients they need—and none of the ones they don’t. They also made a commitment to improve the lives of others by mentoring and teaching young adults the business skills they need to create their own successes.
What Retailers Can Do
What you carry on your shelves has a significant impact on a business and on your shoppers. Look at your inventory to ensure you’re supporting a range of businesses, and find opportunities to merchandise their products to encourage discovery. Many shoppers are actively seeking Black-owned brands, and this is an opportunity to not only meet the needs of these shoppers but to also introduce these items to new customers as well. It’s a practice you can put in place today and make part of everyday operations year-round.