Amid the commercial noise of the holiday season, a new initiative in Seattle offers a refreshing reminder of the power of intentional spending. Black Black Friday encourages residents to spend money at local, Black-owned small businesses, emphasizing the impact of every dollar spent in promoting a more equitable economy. The innovative movement leverages partnerships, community engagement, and creative marketing to build a program that could spread beyond Seattle, inspiring companies and individuals across the country to support Black business owners.
Black Black Friday is organized by Intentionalist, a company that helps people support local, diverse small businesses. Intentionalist partnered with Seattle-based creative agency DNA, and local credit union BECU to launch the Black Black Friday card and interactive directory of participating Black-owned businesses.
“From the beginning, Intentionalist has focused on closing the gap between our good intentions to support diverse local businesses and our ability to easily take action,” shared Laura Clise, CEO and founder of Intentionalist. “In the context of an American consumer culture focused on enabling us to swipe and click our way to immediate gratification, Black Black Friday reminds us that where we spend our money matters–that we can be intentional about who benefits from everyday decisions about where we eat, drink, and shop.”
To encourage and incentivize community members to “Spend Like It Matters”, the campaign offers the Black Black Friday Card, a digital or physical card featuring art by local Black artist Damon Brown. The card can be used exclusively at more than a hundred participating Black-owned businesses. Thanks to BECU’s support, card purchasers can enjoy a 20% discount, making it more accessible to shop at local, Black-owned businesses.
Alan Brown, the founder and chair of DNA, emphasized the importance of companies supporting diverse communities with more than just promises: “Black Black Friday is an opportunity for companies and brands to put their dollars where their promises have been, bringing more opportunities for growth and success to individuals and businesses that are the backbone of our community. And when they support Black Black Friday, it shows others in the community that they truly care about making an impact.”
One of the key stakeholders in the Seattle initiative is Douglas Baldwin Jr, former Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl champion and CEO of Vault89, who sees the potential for the initiative to grow beyond the Greater Seattle area: “As our country fights to change the cycle of excluding Black and Brown people from generational wealth creation, representation of that cycle being broken matters greatly. By shifting the spotlight to raise awareness that the American Dream is alive and well within the Black community, we are funneling vital investment and building a sense of belonging amongst a demographic that has been historically excluded from both.”
The response from Black small business owners has been strong. “The power of this exposure has been apparent,” shared Monika Matthews, Owner of QueenCare, who has already seen new customers and expanded sales through Black Black Friday. “This is the type of support that can pave the road to lift whole families out of poverty thru business ownership. We all know the statistics when it comes to the economic outlook within the Black community. Its bleak now, but by implementing solutions within key wealth building vehicles that affect bottom lines I believe we can slowly turn the page.”
Intentionalist designed Black Black Friday as not just a one-day holiday, but an ongoing economic justice call to action. The Black Black Friday Cards expire seven years after issuance, giving customers the opportunity to make every Friday a day to intentionally support local Black-owned businesses.
Authenticity is at the core of the initiative’s success, with the collaboration rooted in the community it seeks to engage. A Black Small Business Advisory Panel aided in the development of marketing and messaging strategies, ensuring that the benefits of the program reach the Black-owned brick-and-mortar small businesses at the heart of their neighborhoods. As Clise pointed out, “values-based, community-driven collaborations need to be rooted in the very community the partners seek to engage.”
The potential impact of Black Black Friday goes far beyond Seattle, as other communities may look to it as an example of how collaboration, authenticity, and creative marketing can support marginalized business owners. Encouraging intentional everyday decisions about where we spend our money can help advance racial equity and promote economic justice.