All Articles Tagged "black owned"
In Inc magazine’s annual accounting of the top 500 fastest-growing companies, African-Americans represented. Based on their annual rankings, we highlight the top Black entrepreneurs and their fast-growing companies, according to Inc. Check ‘em out.
Jarrett Pumphrey, CEO
2010 Revenue: $8.7 million
Three-Year Growth: 8,625%
Pumphrey was the son of a dentist in Houston. He eventually took his background to create his company which produces an alternative to braces.
As CEO and Founder of Think Tank Digital — a marketing and promotions firm — it’s rare that Tynicka Battle feels like the odd one out. She’s used to being the one who calls the shots and runs the show. Though two weeks ago, standing in Highline Ballroom surrounded by hundreds of teenage girls, she didn’t feel as powerful.
“I felt like the old lady in the room,” she said. Nonetheless, T. Mills —a 22 year-old rocker/rapper who performed that night — was someone Battle knew very well. T.Mills along with Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, Ledisi, Timbaland and many more artists are clients of Think Tank Digital.
Five years after its Founding, Think Tank is a top competitor in the world of digital marketing. Thriving largely off of the rise of digital media and an excellent track record, Battle remembers when Think Tank was just a thought.
When she graduated from Rutgers University in 1996, she immediately put her psychology degree to use. Hired straight out of college, she worked in an outpatient facility supervising patients that suffered from clinical depression and in some cases suicidal ideation. “I think I realized really quickly that I didn’t want the rest of my life to be about that,” she said.
Later, Battle transitioned to a career where she was happier, focusing on research and library science. She worked at Rutgers and Princeton University. “I was very good at finding citations in online databases. I got several promotions, new jobs and raises, “she remembers. “One of my supervisors told me ‘you know you ought to get your library science degree.’ She thought she was complimenting me, but I remember it being a really sad moment. I didn’t want to be a librarian.”
From library science she ventured into marketing —a professional area with more opportunities and career choices. “I did think I was really good at the research aspect [of library science] and using online databases, so I basically figured out what I really wanted to do was marketing. I just had an aptitude for the online side of things.”
There are over 425,000 mobile apps available on Apple’s App Store for the iPhone. The Android Marketplace now has well over 30,000 apps for their devices. According to the website TechCrunch, there has been more than 1 Billion downloads from the App Store as of April 2009. Here is a question? How many of these apps are produced by African Americans?
I would venture to guess we are producing very little. Mobile phones are the most ubiquitous way people communicate and interact with information. With more than 5 billions users communicating and interacting on these devices, the lack of African Americans producing mobile apps has to change.
Further, suppose you want to support Black-owned mobile businesses? How would you go about doing that? We need more African Americans creating products in the mobile space, but in order for that to happen we must support those who are doing just that. How do we find them? I am happy to report things are changing.
In the August issue of Black Enterprise, there is a feature about African Americans who are shaking things up in Silicon Valley called Rule Breakers, Risk Takers: The New Faces of Silicon Valley. This is a very inspiring read and I highly recommend the article. Also, not only is there now an online market for applications for the undiscovered and undeveloped, Inky-Apps, but brothers and sisters are also fully engaged in developing applications for the mobile platform.
Inky-Apps is one of Americas first web stores dedicated to the promotion, advertisement, and development of mobile applications for the undeveloped and undiscovered mobile markets. The site was founded by Richard Fields. Fields is a long time Silicon Valley veteran with over 20 years of information technology experience in computer networking for the enterprise. He has worked for such companies as Xerox, MCI, LSI Logic, MFS DataNet, Tandem Computers, Compaq Computers and Hewlett Packard.
I have also learned of several apps that have been developed for mobile devices that were developed by African Americans. The first to come to my attention is an application called Multiple Madness, which is a math game that tests how well you know math multiples.
The application was developed by Veda Rogers. When I spoke with Veda a few months ago, she revealed that she made the decision early in the development process to keep the app simple. It only took her 3 months to develop the application working part-time in the evenings and on weekends.
Then there is Celly. Celly can be used on any cell phone. I am currently evaluating it on my iPhone 3Gs (I am awaiting the release of the iPhone 5). Celly creates mini social networks called cells that connect you with people and topics that matter most to you. A cell can contain anybody with a cell phone, people from your existing social networks, or any web feed.
The app lets you define filters based on hashtags, location, time, and user identity so you can eliminate noise and get alerted only when relevant messages occur. The potential for this application is huge for schools. The beauty of Celly is that you do not need a Smartphone. Any phone that allows text messaging will work fine.
Finally, there is the Sankofa Solar app, which is more informational in nature. The ability to access information on the go, particularly information that is relevant to the African American community is certainly important and at the present time very unique.
Sankofa Solar provides solar technology innovations from the Black community and the solar industry. This is a free app and you can learn more about it and install the application by visiting the Android MarketPlace and searching on “Sankofa Solar”.
There is simply too much opportunity here and we as African Americans need to make sure that we get our share of this mobile app pie. I received my blessing from Apple this week to provision my creations to the App Store. I intend to do just that. I have two ideas that I will submit before the end of the year. What are you going to do?
Kai Dupé is a doctoral student at Pepperdine University where he is conducting research on Why African American Males Are Underrepresented in Computing. Kai can be reached by email at email@example.com or by visiting his website at www.
by Belinda Otas
In recent years, the African fashion landscape has experienced a rapid change that shows no sign of stopping. With designers who have honed their skills, a savvy generation of African bloggers, fashion journalists, websites and magazines, at no other time in history has there been this level of focus on what designers from the continent can do. The dominance of Paris, London, Milan and New York Fashion Weeks as the ultimate fashion capitals of the world is been challenged with over 7 fashion weeks on both sides of the Atlantic dedicated to African designers. From Dakar Fashion Week to Arise Fashion and Africa Fashion Weeks on the African Fashion calendar, the industry continues to grow and evolve in substance and strength.
It has not always been this way. Beatrice Arthur, of Ghanaian and Russian heritage, is the founder of B’EXOTIQ. Known to many as Bee, the designer can remember vividly just how much things have changed. “As a child, I recollect that going to a kiddies party wearing an African dress was a guarantee that the other kids would tease you throughout,” she said. “But over the decades, fashion in Africa has evolved tremendously. Our women can now opt for smart skirt suits and Hot short dresses or hot pants with halter neck tops. There’s more variety in terms of colours, patterns and textures. Our designers are getting more innovative and attention is paid to finishing and details. We enjoy the fabrics and clothing much more now and it’s no more synonymous with “not being modern.”
It is a challenging task to define what African fashion is, given that Africa is a continent of 53 nations with diverse people, cultures, traditions and sense of style. While Arthur says its “traditional African or contemporary garments made entirely or partially with African fabrics,” Dolapo Shobanjo, originally from Nigeria and co-founder of My Asho, a leading online retail outlet for African designs, gives a more complex view. “There’s no simple definition of African fashion. There’s a big misconception that it’s defined by African prints or tribal themes, but that’s not necessarily so. African fashion has its own aesthetic which is typified by the African woman who is so diverse and hard to define, strong and Amazonian. African fashion captures your attention. It’s bold, colourful and elegant and it’s international. It’s art.”
The East coast is waking up this morning to the total devastation caused by the quake, which rattled the seaboard Tuesday afternoon. The massive 5.9 quake, which could be felt as far away as Canada, left miles and miles of busted flowerpots, overturned lawn chairs and shattered glass from fallen picture frames in its path. Now the clean-up must begin. And by clean-up I mean all the great discounts and “I Survived the Great Earthquake of 2011″ sales, which will probably be going on in your neighborhood soon.
But if you are black, you may want to reconsider who or what you spend your money on, according to a recent article, Black Buying Power: Watch Where You Spend Your Money. The article suggests that African-Americans have been and continue to be underestimated, underserved, disrespected and misunderstood by the consumer market. Blacks collectively have a buying power estimated at around $857 billion annually, yet car manufacturers, the entertainment industry and even the NAACP, have neglected to market directly to this powerful demographic. All told, corporations spend about $263.7 billion annually on advertising, yet marketers have a tendency to lump people into simple groups without considering individual needs and diversity.
The article concludes with a quote from Ken Smikle of Target Market News, suggesting that, “consumers have economic buying power that needs to be used better in their own self-interest. African American consumers should be asking if the brand (or store) they are purchasing from is making a contribution to the black community or investing in the black consumer market?” I’m not quite sure how having a corporation marketing directly to us particularly benefits us economically, but I will bite.
Do corporations respect us as consumers? Well that answer is subjective and based on how much they spend in marketing dollars. If a corporation who markets directly to black folks has a record of racial discrimination in their company or sells a product which might be unhealthy and downright bad for the community, I don’t see how putting a bunch of black folks in a television advertisement is a sign of respect. If anything this counter-productive message of catering to the black consumer market, also known, as black buying power, sounds more like a clever marketing ploy to make black folks feel empowered through further exploitation.
Back in 2008 Jared Ball, contributor to the Black Agenda Report, explored this topic in an a series of essays, in which he suggested that, “Myths of Black America’s “buying power” continue to confuse just how bad things really are or how this ‘permanent recession’ is an economic and social necessity. This myth is meant to shift the blame of poverty onto the poor and suggests that economic inequality is more an issue of pathological behavior than a scientific inevitability.
For decades many articles, particularly in black publications, have been pushing this myth of the almighty black dollar. Recently, several articles have begun to resurface around the subject, many asserting that by the year 2012 black folks will have a buying power of $1.2 trillion dollars. As huge as that number sounds, the reality is that there is no collective $1.2 trillion we as a people can choose to spend. If so, in which bank is this money located and can I get a copy of the account number?
In fact, the average married black household’s income is around $48,000 – less for a single parent household. Moreover, in terms of income, the gap between whites and blacks has nearly quadrupled in the last 30 years, mainly because blacks typically earn 68 cents for every dollar whites earn. Add to this the above average unemployment rate among African- Americans and the fact that the housing bust wiped out whatever equity black folks had been able to accumulate, and you should start to see the full picture of economic power the collective black community really has.
As consumers, African-Americans typically spend on telephone services, personal care products and services, electricity, natural gas, children’s apparel and shoes. Blacks typically spend a higher proportion of their income on groceries and housing. According to one study, blacks in lower-income neighborhoods are more reliant on smaller grocery stores which carry more expensive goods. The same could be said for housing, transportation and car insurance. This should let us know that there are plenty of other barriers in place, including racism and classism, which seem to prohibit blacks from capitalizing economically on so-called disposable income. Likewise, the growth of black businesses has yet to be allowed equal access to markets where black folks tend to shop for phone service, electricity; natural gas and groceries. So it is inevitable that the “black dollar” will always find a route out of the community.
It is important to debunk the illusion of the black buying power because it asserts the fallacy of affluence over the tide in which the market travels. If our collective influence really mattered in this country then blacks would have power over the Democratic Party. The reality is that collective buying power is just a catchy slogan for us to engage in more conspicuous consumption. Which is why you have people like Souljah Boy, trying to buy a $25 million airplane and the guy up the street rocking $500 Louis Vuitton sneakers. Kanye West said it best, “we trying to buy back our forty acres.”
However, $743 billion is a lot of money in aggregated income and we should not be fooled into believing that corporate America hasn’t long realized this. It is the reason why Newports,Old English Malt Liquor and predatory loans are popular brands in the community, which only goes to prove that having the ability to make choices between one exploitative product and another can’t be confused with power.
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.
By Denise Burrell-Stinson
There was a time when many thought selling fashion and beauty items on the Internet was a big question mark — a business strategy that should be approached cautiously, if not skeptically. Would style-conscious consumers of be enticed by small labels (as opposed to prestige brands) outside of the pomp and circumstance of a cool, freestanding store in a swanky neighborhood? Now, however, that sentiment has gone the way of dial-up. Fashion lovers now flock to the web to conveniently shop for unique accessories, home decor items and clothing – and black sartorial entrepreneurs are taking advantage of this trend. The Atlanta Post has profiled seven exciting black-owned brands that are finding the lower costs associated with launching an e-commerce site ideal for breaking into the tough style arena. Meet the Top Seven Black Online Fashion Entrepreneurs to Watch.
Roslyn Johnson, a 26-year-old New Yorker, launched her online shop just four months ago. Previously, she had she worked for the boutique chainlet Scoop, interned for Sean John and spent three years working in the buying office of a major department store. Her beginning career moves gave her the confidence to start her own brand. “I saw a number of up-and-coming collections and thought I had what it took to compete,” Johnson told The Atlanta Post. For her Inkwell designs, Johnson uses Malian mud cloth dyed with plant juices, teas and mud in a process called Bogolanfini, that give a mature, classic Hollywood sexiness to her cocktail dresses and miniskirts. “I saw a void in the marketplace for an African-American heritage brand that incorporates tribal fabrics in a more all-American way,” she says of the classic cuts of her pieces. According to Dr. Angela Hausman, associate professor at the Howard University School of Business and founder of the marketing consulting outfit Hausman & Associates, the web can be an ideal starting point for someone with Johnson’s entrepreneurial spirit. “There are a lot of real costs involved in brick-and-mortar,” says Hausman. “But on the Internet, you don’t have to sign a lease, arrange utilities or build out a space.” Free of these limitations, Johnson took her idea, and ran with it.
Known for their power maneuvers in the music industry, Sean “Jay-Z” Carter and Pharrell Williams have collaborated on several musical ventures in the past.
Now, the two forces are joining together again, but this time it will be outside of the studio and arena stages. According to a GQ exclusive, Jay-Z’s Rocawear has partnered up with Pharrell’s Billionaire Boys Club to manufacture and distribute BBC, thus further leveraging its success.
Though the full details of the partnership have not been fully disclosed, GQ is reporting that Pharrell will remain as the creative vision behind the BBC label while Jay-Z will use his business prowess to effectively market the brand.
Though both brands produce street wear for the urban youth, Billionaire Boys Club is not mass marketed for department stores as Rocawear is. Created in 2005 by Pharrell and Japanese fashion designer, Nigo, who is responsible for the establishment of A Bathing Ape (BAPE), the Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream were conjunctively launched to present “luxury streetwear” to their target youth demographic. Initially, both brands were supposed to be marketed through Reebok, but after several disputes, the line was indefinitely postponed.
Eventually, Billionaire Boys Club was launched as a sister company to A Bathing Ape.
Since its’ official release, Billionaire Boys Club has been moderately successful. Most of the label’s clientele are members of the hip-hop elite, including Lil’ Wayne and Kanye West, but there are only 26 high-end retailers that sell BBC to the public.
Rocawear is marketed through retail department stores including Macys which accounts for the bulk of their clothing sales. The limited purchasing availability for Billionaire Boys Club will not shift as the two collections combine. Even though Jay-Z sold his rights to Rocawear to Iconix Brand Group, he is still in charge of product development, marketing, and licensing.
Tamara Clarke was an accidental beneficiary of the recession. After being laid-off from her job as a systems analyst in 2009, the Atlanta-based professional looked to her own ideas to help her get back on track. Needless to say, she wasn’t planning on working for someone else again.
At the top of her list of business ideas was a sleep cap that protected her long locks while she slept. While there were other products on the market, Clarke didn’t find any that addressed her needs. Through research and commitment, she created the EcoSOQ™ Natural Sleep Cap. It takes into account “green” concerns, hair length and protection. Although it’s a new business which Clarke is running on her own, the feedback to her new product has been extremely positive so far. We caught up with the entrepreneur to find out just how she did it.
How did you know that you had a solid business idea on your hands? Did you study the business landscape or experiment with entrepreneurship before?
I made the cap out of necessity. The longer my locs grew, the harder it became to cover them with the traditional bonnet. After I successfully sewed and used my design which, covers long hair as it hangs, I quickly realized that other ladies may be facing the same challenge and decided to pursue commercializing the idea.
I was new to entrepreneurship but I understood the value of having a solid business plan. I sought help from The Edge Connection, a certified metro-Atlanta area SBA Women’s Center. I enrolled in their 12 week Plan for Profit class and completed a formal business planning process. The class required that I complete extensive market research. Through this research, I realized that I had a solid business idea.
Once upon a time, not too long ago, urban fashion lines were nearly non-existent. Today, they represent a large part of the fashion marketplace. Live Mechanics is one of the fashion lines which responded to a market demand for more culturally-creative men’s fashion. Established in 1999 by Osa Odiase, the Los-Angeles based line prides itself on reflecting a fusion of politics, music and street fashion. TAP correspondent Brandi Fowler got to sit down with Odiase to discuss the inspiration and business of his 12-year-old brand.
Evin Cosby can’t escape the fame that comes with her name (she is indeed the daughter of famed comedian and celebrity Bill Cosby) but one thing’s for sure, she’s made it work for her.
Cosby, a graduate of the famed Fashion Institute of Technology, recently moved her three-year-old boutique called PB & Caviar, from Tribeca to the Lower East Side. TAP correspondent Eno Alfred attended the grand opening party of the new location and asked Cosby about her career in fashion and, of course, launching a business as a daughter of a celebrity icon. Check it out!