Amid calls to support black businesses following Black Lives Matter protests, a Memphis businesswoman launched a digital shopping experience where customers purchased items from 100 black-owned small businesses in one place.
Dubbed the Juneteenth Shop Black Virtual Experience, the event created by Cynthia Daniels, who is an event planner, took place Friday, June 19, to Monday, June 22. Its aim was to support black businesses that had lost sales due to COVID-19 or had to halt operations due to stay-at-home orders.
Daniels said she chose Juneteenth, the day that marks the celebration of the end of slavery in the United States for a purpose.
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“I wanted to make Juneteenth significant with not only thinking about the past and the pain, but how can we use that date to move forward, to celebrate, to help a newer black business, to help a fellow community advocate on that day,” the chief event strategist at Cynthia Daniels & Co. told LocalAbc24.
The Juneteenth Shop Black Virtual Experience did make an impact, as the site attracted over 16,000 shoppers when it was launched on June 19, helping the 100 black businesses featured on the platform to make over $1 million in combined sales within 72 hours.
These black-owned businesses were from 22 cities across the U.S., including Memphis, Atlanta, New York, Houston, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
Daniels, who was overwhelmed with the support she received, said she was moved to create the Juneteenth Shop Black Virtual Experience while putting together a black-inspired gift basket for Mother’s Day.
“It started Mother’s Day weekend,” Daniels told House Beautiful. “I couldn’t be home for Mother’s Day, so I wanted to be very intentional in sending my mother some things from my favorite Black-owned businesses. And I realized that a lot of people had never heard of these places.”
Daniels said posting her gift ideas on Instagram got many responses from people who didn’t know such black-owned businesses existed.
With a lot of free time due to COVID-19, she decided to plan for what would become the Juneteenth Shop Black Virtual Experience.
Her initial idea was 50 businesses in her local Memphis community but she received a lot of applications so she decided to open it up to 100 companies – 50 from Memphis and 50 from elsewhere – dividing it into eight categories: Women’s; Men’s; Kids; Bath, Beauty and Health; Wines and Teas; Black Art; Baked Goods, Popcorn, and Lemonade; and Home Goods and Novelties, according to Hello Beautiful.
“I wanted to make it very user-friendly,” said Daniels. “Customers come to this one portal and then they can browse by category and once they get on those pages, they can see images from the actual vendors.”
Daniels has been supporting black-owned businesses for some time now. She recently founded Memphis Black Restaurant Week to “bring awareness around the hidden treasures in the Memphis community.”
She has so far decided to make the Juneteenth Shop Black Virtual Experience an annual event.