If you want to make a change in life, you have to be the person who initiates that change.
A movement was started in the region in 2020 to support black businesses while providing inclusivity for young black entrepreneurs and black business owners. Unfortunately, this initiative was short-lived. I knew at the time that the hype would fade just as fast as it had begun.
The fight for equality, diversity, and inclusion starts with every person. Of course, your community is the core for local businesses to succeed, but if your community doesn’t support you, who do you think will come to your aid?
I know how fortunate I’ve been over the years trying to realize my dreams. I’ve never taken my position in the business world for granted. I’ve achieved my success because I had the opportunity to ride on the backs of so many amazing people and companies throughout my journey. These people didn’t disparaged or judge me by my colour, but rather, as a strong woman defying the odds.
I did my research and fought to acquire Colt Paper. I knew if I succeeded in obtaining the company,
I would be the only black-owned business in Canada in the corrugated industry. Furthermore, I thought the black community would put their arms around me with support while pursuing my goal of conquering the market.
Sadly, the support from the black community never came to fruition. I can count the number of black customers who have walked into my business since 2017 to support my endeavors and company.
In 2018 I was fortunate enough to be featured in The Share Newspaper (a local Toronto newspaper). A few weeks later, a white senior walked into my shop. She announced she was there to see the star.
My staff looked confused as she was pointing at me. However, the lady was beaming with a smile as if she had met some Hollywood celebrity. I sat and chatted with her for a few minutes and discovered she had driven over an hour to meet me in person and purchase moving boxes. I thanked her for the support she had shown me and everyone at the company. I could tell I made her day.
On the other hand, a black woman called my store looking for boxes and inquired about pricing. She asked why the boxes were so expensive and indicated she would go to the competition because they had better prices. I explained that the prices were all the same. In addition, Colt Paper offers free pick up, unlike our competitors who charge a $25 pickup fee. They are also outside of the Toronto area, so you are looking at a 2-hour drive. I never saw or heard back from her.
I am baffled by the lack of support by blacks in my community. I sometimes question myself as to the reason. I wonder if black people buy houses or move into new apartments. Do they own businesses and use shipping boxes or supplies?
There is no steady stream of business from the black community, so stop telling me I got rich by calling me a sellout. Also, please stop telling me how I make you proud to be black while supporting the big box stores. It’s important to support small black businesses, so put your money where your mouth is and don’t be hypocritical.
When one black business wins and becomes successful, we all win. Our companies should not be compared to big box stores because they are not the exact comparisons. They are the competition. Supporting black businesses is not a trend. It’s a responsibility.