theBOM Takes The Pop-Up Shop Concept To A New Level To Attract Black Consumers
We’ve heard it time and time again. While Black Americans currently have $1.2 trillion dollars in buying power, they don’t tend to buy Black. In fact, of that $1.2 trillion only $0.02 of every dollar is spent at Black-owned businesses.
Some say the want to support but Black businesses are hard to find; theBOM says we got you. Also known as Black-Owned Market, the BOM creates pop-up shopping experiences where consumers can connect exclusively with Black-owned businesses. Founded by Michelle Dalzon, theBOM’s first pop-up event took place in New York City in December 2016. More than 300 shoppers came to check out products from 12 local merchants who raked in a cumulative profit of $30,000 in seven hours.
Now, Dalzon is gearing up for theBOM’s second pop-up at WeWork Times Square, also in NYC, on August 12 with 15 local businesses. Vendors will include candle company LIT Brooklyn, clothing company Byas and Leon, natural hair magazine CRWNMAG, and watercolor artist Debra Cartwright.
Dalzon gave MadameNoire the deets.
MadameNoire (MN): First, let’s talk about the name.
Michelle Dalzon (MD): theBOM stands for the Black-Owned Market. We’re a market that caters to Black-Owned businesses. The slang term “the bomb” has been and is still very relevant in our community, and when people think of theBOM I want them to now associate it with shopping Black!
MN: How did you come up with this idea?
MD: My parents are small business owners and have operated a beauty supply store in Boston for the past 29 years. I’ve witnessed first-hand what it felt like to support Black-owned businesses and what an important role it plays in strengthening our community. When I moved to New York, I noticed the wealth of Black businesses in comparison to Boston, which was refreshing, but there was still something missing. Shopping Black now, I think there is more talk about it than it was a few years ago, but even still I feel like people just say it and aren’t really actionable about the intention. I wanted to create a space that highlighted and showcased Black businesses in an impactful way which would entice people to shop. Black people have over $1.2 trillion dollars in buying power, but yet only $0.02 of every dollar goes back into Black-owned businesses. I think a majority of this has to do with a limiting self-belief that Black brands can deliver the same quality as commercial products.
MN: How does theBOM work?
MD: theBOM is a curated pop-up market where business owners pay a fixed cost to sell their products. We create custom booths for each vendor within our markets that they can treat as their own storefront. Therefore, we are eliminating the cost of them having to maintain a brick-and-mortar store on a daily basis. For the consumers coming to shop, they are paying a ticket fee that includes liquor, food, and activities. Therefore, theBOM is more like a shopping experience for both business owners and consumers.
MN: How has business been?
MD: The reception of theBOM has been fantastic. From many of the business owners saying this is the best pop-up that they have ever been apart of to the consumers who can’t wait for the next market to take place. What I struggle with the most, like most minority and women-owned businesses, is finding proper sponsorships and funding to sustain our markets. It is a production and requires a lot of moving parts.
MN: Who has used the space more–men or women?
MD: Women most definitely. Our consumers are 84 percent women and 16 percent men.
MN: Why is a space like this necessary?
MD: This space is necessary because there isn’t currently a platform that is fighting for small Black business owners in a real and actionable way. We are supporting Black businesses in all aspects from our pop-ups to e-commerce and consulting eventually. We are committed to making sure local entrepreneurs thrive and generate wealth within our community.
MN: How are you reaching out to get clients?
MD: I found many of the business owners that participate in theBOM through social media, referral, or I have been a customer of theirs in the past. I look for quality Black businesses that have a great story to tell. The way a business owner presents themselves online and in person speaks volumes about their product and character. Based on this little formula, I’ve had the pleasure of working with some pretty amazing businesses that are doing major things. So proud of all of them. And they really view being apart of theBOM as a badge of honor and that really warms my heart.
MN: Tell us more details about the second pop-up?
MD: The second pop-up will be one that can’t be missed. It will be held on the rooftop of WeWork in Times Sq. because we found that most of the consumers of our vendors are from Brooklyn and Harlem. We wanted to establish a nice middle ground for everyone with one of the best views of the city skyline. We honestly have some of the dopest brands in NYC that will be launching exclusive products just for theBOM on 8/12. Think of it like an upscale block party similar to the Beyonce “Party” video–your senses will be awakened once you get off the elevator! The ticket includes alcoholic beverages, small bites, gift bags, activities and more! Truly a shopping experience.
MN: Why do you feel Black consumers still don’t buy from Black-owned companies at a higher rate?
MD: I feel like we don’t believe that Black brands are as good as the mainstream products or brands – which is completely untrue. This belief is due simply to lack of knowledge and research. Since the person who is making the product is someone that looks like you, they are more likely to create a product that fits your needs. We need to view shopping and owning Black products as a status symbol the same way we view other brands.
MN: What’s next? Goals for 2018?
MD: Our goal is to launch our e-commerce/blog platform highlighting the stories of Black entrepreneurs as well as popping up in new cities outside of NYC! We’re seeing great traction in DC, Chicago, LA, and Boston.
MN: What do you enjoy the most about what you are doing?
MD: I wake up every day with purpose and joy in my heart. I truly believe in Black businesses and want to see them grow beyond their wildest dreams. Recycling money back into the community is my way of activism.
MN: What lessons about entrepreneurship did you learn from your parents?
MD: My parents have taught me the value of risk taking and resilience. As Haitian immigrants, they took a chance on their entrepreneurial dreams while raising a family of four. They never complained about the cards life has dealt them. I am so blessed to have them in my life because even though I am an adult they never stopped parenting and I still receive gems from them. In my times of uncertainty or anguish, they are my biggest cheerleaders and support. My mom was the first investor in my business and she never misses an opportunity to check in and make sure I’m handling all of this new territory well.