Closing the Black America wealth gap is important now more than ever as the racialized impact COVID-19 has had on Black communities has uncovered long-standing issues of systemic racial inequities. Subsequently, more than half of black-owned businesses may not even survive the coronavirus pandemic, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.
To champion Black businesses and uplift the Black community, Ohun Ashe, St. Louis activist and founder of ForTheCultureSTL, is lending her resources to Black-owned businesses and making shopping easier with her 3rd Annual Black Owned Holiday Catalog. This year, the catalog features 86 businesses and more than 221 items you can buy this holiday season.
Ohun shares insights on the idea behind the catalog and why supporting Black businesses is important now more than ever.
Can you provide more on your background and the founding history of ForTheCultureSTL?
ForTheCultureSTL.com officially launched on April 1, 2018. In 2017, there was a wave of protests over Officer Jason Stockely being found not guilty for the shooting and killing of Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011. Before then, I’d been involved in activism/protests since Mike Brown, but during Ferguson, I was a lot more quiet. Within the Jason Stockley protests, I really began to find my voice and started organizing with ExpectUs. When the protests started to calm down I wondered what was next for me in community work. I didn’t feel like politics or policy was my thing but I knew I wanted to do something. I was already known for uplifting Black businesses and events around St. Louis but also at this time, there was a strong narrative that there was nothing for Black folks to do and no businesses to support in St. Louis. I knew that wasn’t true and maybe if we had one platform to find this information, we could combat that narrative. I talked to a few friends about that vision, one friend connected me to a website designer, Patrick Springer, who designed fortheculturestl.com and the rest is HERstory.
What was the idea behind “The Black Owned Holiday Catalog ‘20?
It’s always important to give credit where it’s due. This is the 3rd Annual Black Owned Holiday Catalog, the first launched during the holiday season of 2017. The idea was thrown to me by a Facebook friend, Kim Ann. She reached out and suggested a Black holiday catalog to make shopping with Black owned businesses easier. I immediately went to work on making it happen. It was so exciting because unlike the rest of the website, the catalog portion is open to all Black businesses, no matter where they are located. It’s an opportunity for a worldwide uplift of Black economics.
website, the catalog portion is open to all Black businesses, no matter where they are located. It’s an opportunity for a worldwide uplift of Black economics.
Are you accepting new businesses to be featured? If so, what’s the criteria and how can they register?
The process to be featured in this year’s holiday catalog is closed, however, this is a bi-annual catalog. Outside of the holiday catalog that runs from November – March, there is the Spring/Summer Catalog that launches in the Spring of each year. If anyone is interested in being included in 2021, subscribe to the website, fortheculturestl.com and follow ForTheCultureSTL on Instagram to get notified when we start accepting businesses.
Any success stories so far?
There are many but the biggest, for me, is the amount of Black businesses that get exposure. We support mainly small Black businesses, some which depend solely on social media to make sales. In the first 24 hours of launching this year’s Black Owned Holiday Catalog, there were over 1,000 users who already viewed it. It’s exciting to be able to provide Black businesses from all over the U.S. with the opportunity of connecting, gaining new clients, exposure and just a different opportunity that is all about us.
How can we access the catalog?
All you have to do to access the catalog is go to fortheculturestl.com/catalog, that’s it!
So many creative pieces featured. Any favorites?
There are so many great items in the catalog; the majority of them are my favorite. The catalog goes beyond just items and into services too. We’re living through a pandemic right now so it’s awesome to be able to provide the community with virtual services as well. Even outside of that, the catalog is broken down into categories to make it simple for you to find what you’re looking for.
Any other plans on how you will uplift the community in support of black businesses? Why is this important?
The main goal of fortheculturestl.com is connecting. Connecting Black people to Black businesses and when it all boils down, it’s really about connecting us to each other. The website has so many features that support and uplift our mission and simply continuing it, is my goal. The limit for the future is endless but Black folks and our businesses will always be at the center of everything we do.
For The Culture STL Black-Owned Holiday Catalog features items from diverse categories including apparel, accessories, home decor and more. Check out some of the items featured in the catalog below.
Black Women Tee by ForTheCultureSTL
Hennesy Pin by HeyKarissa Creative
I Believe Puzzle by Advance Little Minds
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