India Rose is the founder of Martha’s Vineyard Black-Owned Business Directory and the first black person on the island to launch a platform that provides a list of Black-owned businesses, including restaurants, hair and beauty salons, private chefs, and catering. In addition, the directory has Black-owned home improvement services and realtors one can hire.
She created the platform because people often inquired from her if she knew of a Black-owned landscaping company or a Black-owned restaurant on the island. She had come to know a lot of the island’s Black-owned businesses thanks to her consulting and event planning work. This led her to create Martha’s Vineyard Black-Owned Business Directory, according to Black Enterprise.
Since then, her platform has become the go-to place for anything black business. In its first year (2019) of operation, the directory did well and traffic to the site increased in the summer of 2020 on the back of the pandemic and the murder of George Floyd.
“In 2020, with the pandemic hitting and with George Floyd and the world sort of being on fire, people were seeking it out, so the platform kind of organically exploded with traffic, with people going through the website, with allies, with people looking to intentionally support and what I noticed was people were printing from the website, and it was a scrolling site so it didn’t look great,” she said.
Realizing the popularity of her platform, she decided to create the first physical directory to give even more people access to Black-owned businesses on the island. The physical copy of the guide was created in 2021; it was then 30 pages but recently expanded to 92, according to Black Enterprise.
“It really started out as a passion project for me,” Rose, a wife and mother of two, told Vinyardgazette. “I couldn’t believe how well it was received, I was so grateful.”
Prior to starting the business directory, she founded Sideline, a sportswear store on Main Street in Vineyard Haven, in November 2020.
Since access to funding is the biggest challenge for many small businesses, particularly black-owned ones, Rose also started Thriving Inc., a nonprofit that is providing mini-grants to small businesses.