Being more than a Black Owned Business
Every single time I say I will do more blog posts, life and work bogs me down.
Having had my seventh child April 12th and opening our second store on May 4th, preparing for the 3rd on May 25th....its been a busy month or so..
I thought I'd sit down with all the goals having been accomplished lately and put some words together. They can be for the black business owner, the minority business owner.. or those aspiring to be any of the above.
We will have gone to having 5 employee's at corporate just a month ago and a few folks at our first retail location, to almost 50 by the end of May of this year.
This isn't something we take lightly at the company. At first (and I tell this story as often as I can) I was determined to create ROCKDEEP to provide for me and my family. This was a goal I set out not to just achieve, but to maintain.
After setting goals to meet and achieve I create more. The pleasure and satisfaction I take now in the creation of ROCKDEEP is that I get to help others provide for themselves and their families. Both those who look like me and those who don't.
I'd be lying if I didn't say my preference isn't to employ as many people who look like me as possible, but I realize sprinkling in other's is important not only to my business but the communities I am selling to...which brings me to one of the reasons I am writing this blog.
We all as black business owners know the many challenges we face.
1. Being able to afford the rent, the payroll, and the merchandise depending on your industry of course.
2. Who do you focus your marketing on? Just black folks or ALL folks?
3. Do you run the risk of offending your folks by focusing on all, or even those purchase your products.
Me personally as mentioned in previous blog posts am patronized by 70% white women. Would I like the numbers to change? Absolutely. However, I can't throw I'm a black business down the throats of the white customers who purchase from me.
Why? Frankly they don't care. All they want is great products at a great price...and from us they get it over and over again.
When you enter a ROCKDEEP | RDevine store you see a black face. Not just a black face...but a professional black face who knows how to treat the customer no matter the gender or race.
It's not important to the customer who sells them or who owns the store...but it is important to me.
The problem I did happen to notice on the opening weekend of our second store is the abundance of black faces in the front of our store greeting folks which at the same time made some apprehensive from coming in.
Now... some might say "I wouldn't even want their business" and you'd be crazy... because I've made that silly ass statement at some point or another, and as a black man who created a hunting line (HUNTSMAN), I'd have to be ok with a Red Hat Trump loving customer coming into my store to purchase my goods.
Now how they treated my staff would also be crucial to their existence as well, because I will not accept foolishness in my place of business.
If my staff is courteous to you, I expect the same to be reciprocated. This goes for everyone regardless of their political or religious affiliations.
But back to my store about the abundance of black faces lol...
Once I realized some folks were apprehensive from coming into the store, my initial reaction was "fuck em"....but that won't help business, because after speaking with my staff within corporate, we all had a real discussion about how even WE would be apprehensive about that same situation.
No... not going into a store with a bunch of black folks.. but imagine when you as a man or woman are walking down the street and crew of black men are walking your way..
I'll fight anyone... (being light skin we've had to lol)
But I know I don't have time to really deal with that type of drama in my life...and while it may sound like Im stereotyping, don't lie to yourself. We have all done it.
Go into a club where you know it's a bit rough and you may leave early before the parking lot fills up after the club lets out.
This is the same concept for customers like it or not. We need to be aware of that and work through and around it accordingly IF we want to stay in business.
So there's that...
But to the point of the title of this blog post...being MORE than a black owned business.
I wanted to challenge everyone out there to not just push themselves and set expectations and goals. We do that anyway... maybe not the same way... but we all do it for our own business.
We talk about keeping the money within our own communities, and doing things like Nipsey. Buy up the block. Not everyone has that ability, but what can you do when you don't have those resources?
Here's what we are doing:
1. Finding Black Real Estate Agents
2. Finding Black Financial Management Advisors
3. Networking to find others in whatever else needed.
We can start to again depend on one another for our needs. We don't need to announce to the world we are creating our own little Black Wall Streets.
We can do them under the cover of darkness allowing things to move smoothly.
1. A black real estate agent can do the same any other one can. However, if you use the same one, they are more invested in you and your growth. Your growth is their growth.
If you keep using them.. their commission alone can allow them to start their own company and do even MORE for your business.
2. A Black Financial Management Advisor can do what other's do, and it helps us get more trust for our own. Listen to them on tax advice. Let them refer you to a trusted Certified Accountant. They can tell you all the LEGAL loop holes to benefit both your business and you personally.
We can't complain about how the rich do what they do if we aren't willing to follow the template they have laid out.
Most importantly you have to be willing to "reach back to pull forward"
Once you think you've made it, you have to tell other's how you've made it.
I know there are plenty out there on black business boards selling you how they can fix your credit...but you don't need to pay hundreds to do something you can do yourself in a few hours and some patience.
(sorry for those of you who offer that service)
Those are just some of the few things you can do...but if we did this as much as we invested in MLM schemes or straight out pyramids or investing in lottery tickets, we'd be much further along as a people.
Being in business is great, but being in business to help others be in business or be successful in what they do is what's really good.
Something we created for our business that ANYONE is welcome to use is a special sign that lets others know we are a BLACK OWNED BUSINESS without being all in your face.
It's a simple wink and nod to those walking past which may get them to stop and look into your storefront.
We are placing it in the window of all our stores...and we love it. Because while we are grateful to just be in business, we are damn proud to be black owned.
I have 7 seeds... count em ... 7. The youngest son who is currently 8 plans on taking over the company as soon as he can. He is the only one who home schools and wants to know everything about the company and business.
He learned early that if he is wearing Jordans... no one is going to take him seriously about his Daddy owning his own footwear and apparel company. Something most of my young kids had to learn.
If no one else listens...or wants to listen the one's you should be teaching the most about your business or business in general are your children.
They may choose to go another path, but at least they have the choice and ability to learn financial freedom and financial stability. We can give them the education some of our parent's weren't able to.
We have to be more than just Black Owned Businesses... we have to be the one's who leave something for the next generation to grow on.
I hope this was taken as advice more than preaching...because we can be more than we are ....together...wherever we are.
You can find out more about ROCKDEEP or our sister company RDevine below:
Facebook: RDevine Fashion