Greetings once again!
I cannot put in to exact words the excitement I felt to finally implement my plans start my non-profit organization Harmonious Grace, Inc. It is already a feeling of importance to be employed and know that you independently support yourself and/or your family, but it’s an even GREATER feeling when you actually own a small business. Seeing my name typed on pieces of mail informing me about the process for federal tax returns and IRS paperwork and the label “small business owner” makes me strive to do even more, and although Harmonious Grace, Inc. is still just like a newborn baby, it is motivational just imagining the places that it can go and the assistance that it can provide to others as a non-profit focusing on counseling and mentoring. For years, we as African-Americans could never even mention the thought of owning our own businesses and were even shut out of particular occupations for centuries due to the color of our skin.
Now that times have changed and we have become more successful by leaping over boundaries of discrimination; what is it exactly that causes us NOT to support each other as much as we should? As African Americans, we are known to constantly bring each other down and never back each other up. It’s all visual for us and you never receive support until you actually become a success through other channels and other races of people. We now are the largest group of the most talented, creative, and business savvy beings living on the planet. When it comes to small businesses in our community, it is becoming harder and harder to get our own family and friends to support and sponsor our businesses and our projects, when that is what builds communities the most. It never stops at a business, our people create music, books, and art on a daily. There are performing arts, visual arts, and literary pieces being created by us daily. Yet, when it comes to promoting our work, we can never even get a glance our way until our name is successfully viewed in the media…whether positive or negative.
I would like to explain the importance of “Buying Black” and how supporting each other can make us greater than we have ever been! Black owned business only receive 2% of Black consumer dollars. Did you know that if that number moved up to 10% it would generate 10 million jobs for African Americans? African Americans put the rest of that 98% of Black consumer dollars towards major corporations and companies that oftentimes are owned by whites who discriminate against us the most by hiring only a very small percentage of our people and even making products that are not considered affordable to our race and our demographics. The holidays are when these numbers become the most appalling. A very small number of Black businesses or products have Black consumer dollars spent with them for Christmas. Brands such as Michael Kors, Yves St. Laurent, and Gucci see plenty of our money. Including larger merchandisers such as Target, Macy’s, and Wal-Mart.
African Americans have $1.1 trillion in collective buying power in the United States. This year, it increased to $1.3 trillion. Each year, we lose out on more and more money we could successfully contribute to ourselves. Whether we are purchasing products, services, gifts, or music, something has to change with the way we support one another. If the Black population stopped purchasing or putting money towards white owned businesses for just one week, nearly ALL of them would go bankrupt and every cent would be put into our pockets.We have been named the “most relevant” consumers and have an astounding effect on the economy. We watch more television, make more shopping trips, purchase the most beauty and grooming products, and spend twice the time than any other race on personal hosted websites. These numbers show just how important we are, yet only 3% of advertising budgets market to African Americans.
African Americans make up 13% of the population, but only 7% of businesses are owned by Blacks. It may be a small number right now, but I am VERY proud to say that I am apart of it. So, since the holidays are near and I’m sure by the end of this month, Christmas shopping will begin. Try something new and don’t shop with a major retailer. I am going to also provide a list of some of the small Black businesses around Montgomery that I LOVE spending money with and have personally grown on me because of the quality of their services.We MUST support each other. This includes products, music, magazines, books, services, and even transportation; anything that would help our people become more aware of each other and the amazing way we are able to always make something out of little to nothing.
1. That’s My Dog and Cupcakes Too
232 W. Jeff Davis Avenue
Montgomery, AL 36104
This one actually happens to be one of my favorites in the city. That’s my Dog started as an awesome and familiar hotdog stand downtown, usually located in front of Alabama Power on Dexter Ave during lunch time. It served patrons with great customer service and wonderful hotdog and sausage options. It included plenty of condiments and add-ons like jalapenos, onions, cheese, and beef to name a few. You also got a bag of chips and canned soda with your hotdog for just five bucks! After a night downtown that entailed some drinking and dancing around we were always famished and more than happy to see Charles Lee (whom is the owner) right in front of the Alley Bar around 2 a.m. We would wonder when this guy slept! That hotdog stand came with comfort and convenience when around that time the only choices you had in Montgomery would be either a late night meal from Waffle House, Krystals, or Taco Bell or just something from your own refrigerator. He now has a building located on W. Jeff Davis Avenue and doing better than ever! A variety of delicious cupcakes have even been added to the menu, along with other sandwiches and filling items. So go check them out on your lunch or dinner one day between the hours of 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. You WILL NOT be disappointed. And yes, at times you can still also spot his hot dog stand at certain locations during events around the city. If you do, please stop by!
2. Mirage Café
Address coming soon!
It brings me great pleasure to list this Black owned business because it happens to belong to my best friend! Mirage Café was created in the very social and very cool mind of Montgomery native, Breyone Burkett. It will be a Mediterranean grill that will also include Hookah, served with tobacco and non-tobacco flavors. She has ambitiously started a GoFundMe campaign to raise $10,000, which will go towards a building that will house Mirage Café’s laid back vibe. It will be located in the heart of Downtown Montgomery. What this entrepreneur strives to bring to the city is an eccentric and more “settled” environment where people can come together, be themselves, and dine on delicious food, relax with quality Hookah and enjoy a place with more culture and warmth in Montgomery. We need more variety to choose from when it comes to nightlife and that is just what Mirage Café will bring plus more!! To support Breyone’s business venture you can make a contribution to her GoFundMe campaign at the link below. Also follow her website link for more information on what you can look forward to and even a preview of the menu!
3. JoZettie’s Cupcakes
1404 S. Decatur Street
2229 E. South Blvd
This black owned business has been selling DELICIOUS and unique cupcakes for years. I myself love visiting and purchasing my favorite two (Red Velvet Cheesecake and Strawberry). I have yet to try any around the city that taste as decadent as Jozetti’s. You can choose from a variety of thirty-three flavors and she has something for everybody’s taste. She has flavors like Pumpkin Cheesecake, Peach Cobbler, Orange Pineapple Cheesecake, and Peanut Butter Banana that might make one question just how far a cupcake can go. Whenever you get a chance be sure to stop by and give them a try! They’re fresh, made from scratch, and awesome. There will be NO disappointments.
4. Shylanjazz Gallery of Beauty
Let’s face it, EVERYONE needs their hair done and there are always Black women AND even men willing to slay it for you in our own special and eccentric way. But the great thing about this Black owned salon is that is doesn’t just cater to sitting you in a chair, styling your hair with bad products, and collecting your money. The owner, Mrs. Valeria Ivey, is an actual BEAUTICIAN with certifications and has studied techniques for hair, skin, and nails. Her services include healing treatments for your hair and your scalp and she takes pride in knowing what could IMPROVE your hair to be it’s strongest and healthiest. This has been my choice for almost 5 years now since I have been natural and I can honestly say that my hair and scalp have never been better! You’ve seen my pictures! She did the purple coloring also. My other personal favorite is that she uses no electric grinding instruments like most salons and stresses how they can cause fungal issues and irritation in your nail beds and skin. She takes her time using filing boards that include no chemicals, shaping and molding the nail herself into a BEAUTIFUL creation, including a selection of vibrant colors. So please visit if you feel the need to have the actual HEALTH of your beauty enhanced. I guarantee she will do just that and more.
5. Black Dragon Tattoo and Gallery
3026E Buckboard Road
I love tattoos. Not many people I know could disagree with that statement, and this Black owned tattoo parlor just happens to be one of the best I’ve been to. Most of my tattoos were done out of state and I was a little skeptical at first, but just as I am telling all of you…we HAVE TO SUPPORT OUR PEOPLE and I went and did just that! Thomas Clausell is the owner and the tattoo artist who happened to do a GREAT cover up for me on my lower back. I get so many compliments about it when skin is in during the summer time. He was very clean, professional, and bold with his work. You can see every color in his work. I probably would never choose anyone else to do my tattoos in the future. He luckily just so happened to move right next to my hair salon from his former location on W. 3rd Street. If you’re an ink addict such as myself and need QUALITY work done, go check him out! He takes pride in his work and you’ll always LOVE the finished product!
Every business I have mentioned can be easily looked up on Facebook and Google if you would like more information. If you are not sure where to go as far as shopping, there are hundreds of links to visit with updated listings of Black owned business in Alabama, whether it’s banks, restaurants, clothing, or event coordinators. Black owned businesses own EVERY category of entrepreneurship! We must support each other, even if it means making a couple of sacrifices from your usual routine. So this year BUY BLACK and see what it can do for YOU and for ALL OF US!!!
Solidify Your Life!