‘Buy It Black’ Gift Box Initiatives Tackle Pandemic and Economic Equity | WUWM 89.7 FM

Gift box sales are on the rise as people find ways to spread joy and generosity from home during the pandemic. More and more shoppers are seeking gift boxes containing products from black-owned businesses, in part because of manifestations of racial justice and the emphasis on economic fairness.

There are black-owned gift boxes or subscription boxes all over the country, some are aimed at a general audience and others are aimed at women, men or children. Here are just a few:

I. Bronze box

Bronze Box is a gift box initiative from one of the co-founders of MKE Black, a nonprofit organization that advocates for black-owned businesses in the greater Milwaukee area.

The boxes contain many snacks and drinks like cookies, lemonade and gourmet popcorn, but also candles, soaps and other products.

Paul and Mazie Wellington

Paul and Mazie Wellington launched Bronze Box to raise the voices of black-owned businesses in Milwaukee.

The original idea for Bronze Box was to amplify black voices and support black-owned businesses in Milwaukee, but it has expanded to include products from designers from the Midwest and other parts of the country. It ships nationwide.

Paul and Mazie Wellington run Bronze Box and say supporting black-owned small businesses is more crucial than ever as black businesses disproportionately struggle with the economic impact of COVID-19.

According to a National Bureau of Economic Research Report 2020, “The number of African American business owners has grown from 1.1 million in February 2020 to 640,000 in April,” – equivalent to about 41% of black-owned businesses in the United States sink as a result of COVID-19.

Mazie says, “With the coronavirus, small businesses are struggling to stay open, and all we can do to kind of continue to help with visibility and get products into people’s hands. And the great thing about Bronze Box is that it arrives right at your doorstep. It’s very safe for people right now.

II. Black owned box of Collaborative Street Smart

Black-owned Box includes products such as body butters, tote bags, and beard oils from Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia.


Courtesy of Black Owned Box

A product of Street Smart Collaborative of DC, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help end racial injustice as an economic threat, proceeds from Black Box are donated to community building initiatives local.

This is an initiative of Street Smart Collaborative of DC, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help end racial injustice as an economic threat. All proceeds will be donated to local community development initiatives.

Current offerings include a box geared towards Mothers’ Day, a male oriented and one build yours box.

CEO Kyndra Jones and COO Khloe Washington say, “It gives generational wealth, honey! “


CEO Kyndra Jones (left) and COO Khloe Washington (right) of Black Box owned by Street Smart Collaborative

III. Bifties

Bifties’ motto is “Giving B (l) ack just got a lot easier! »This is an online marketplace offering both organized and build yours gift boxes with products ranging from candles to jewelry, newspapers to games and body products from black-owned businesses.

Constance Panton runs the site. She went into business in January 2020 after spending four years organizing a gift exchange of Black-made products with her friends and family. She says the idea of ​​a gift exchange came day in and day out from turning on the television and seeing depressing race news in this country. “And I was just like, ‘How can we? How can I collectively embrace the black community? Like, how can I hug each other, because we’re going through so much,” Panton said.

Panton says some participants in the gift exchange said it was difficult to find black-owned businesses. She started doing her own research, connecting with black creators on social media, and filling that gap in people’s awareness.


Courtesy of Constance Panton

Constance Panton is the CEO of Bifties, a gift box company that features black-owned businesses.

Panton also discovered that some of his non-black friends thought that “buying black” did not include them. “They thought it was just a call to action for black people or something to do for black people. And I was like, ‘No, anyone can buy Black, anyone can support a black owned business, you don’t have to be black to do that,’ ”she said.

IV. Brown book box: From two moms of color in Texas who envision a future where all children have access to books with characters that look like them.

V. Unexpected gifts : The Atlanta-based company run by an entrepreneur from Southeast Asia mainly offers products from small businesses owned by women or BIPOC. Some boxes are made up entirely of products from black-owned businesses.

VI. The Better Me Box: This subscription box combines personal care and books.

VII. Box of brown sugar: These boxes are intended for black women, teenagers or children. From Izzy & Liv, boxes contain everything from makeup and scarves to manicure sets.

VIII. Queendom Beauty Box: These personal care sets are created for active black women, with small beauty brands owned by blacks.

So how good can these gift boxes be? Advocates say the boxes amplify small business owners, who in turn are able to pay rent and other bills, grow their businesses, and hire people in their communities. Buyers can discover new products and incorporate products from black-owned businesses into their lives.

Buying products that take into account racial equity can people feel absolved of doing harder anti-racist work, like attending protests or advocating for their rights in the workplace, says Aziza Jones, a new business professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

But Jones says others react differently. “Other people will see what they have done, this purchase of a product from a black owned company and will take that as a signal to themselves, as a symbolic signal, of the importance of this. cause for them, ”she said.

Jones adds that it may actually make them more likely to come out and advocate for racial justice.

Ronald Busby, Jr. of the United States Black Chamber of Commerce is all about gift boxes and buying black, but he says there are bigger issues involved too – such as business. black people do not have equitable access to loans and black people are not at the table during conversations about economic recovery.

“No one person or cohort of people who just come out and say, ‘Hey, I’m going to buy some black,’ is inherently going to solve the problem,” Busby said.

He notes that not all Black Business products come in a gift box. Busby says that if consumer activism is part of the solution, the federal government is the biggest buyer of goods and services in the country. He says policies and actions leading to structural inequality in the market have yet to be addressed.

But when it comes to gift boxes, Busby says it’s not enough to just buy one and that’s it. “We want you to become advocates, fans, champions of these products afterwards as well,” he says.

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