In 2009, we reported on Maggie Anderson and her husband John, an African American couple who, in 2009, engaged in a year-long experiment to purchase goods, products and services exclusively from Black owned businesses. The journey is chronicled in her acclaimed book Our Black Year One Family’s Quest to Buy Black in America’s Racially Divided Economy.
Now, the author, activist and conscious commerce expert has launched Maggies List, a website for consumers who want to buy from Black owned businesses.
According to Broderick Byers, CEO of iSwop Networks, and Managing Partner of MAGGIESLIST.com, there are two components of the site. The first is the resource center for both businesses and consumers. We feel that it is important for Black startup businesses to have insight on how to start and grow their businesses. The whole idea is that if a Black owned business is successful then, more than likely, that business owner will hire someone from the community to work there. So, we share information on business plans, executive summaries, financials, elevator pitches, networking etc., Byers told TNJ.com.
The second component is the business network itself. Shop Maggies List.com is about shopping preferences. We need to have people who are buying smartly and spending our collective 1.3 trillion spending power on Black businesses. We want to have a way for consumers who are going up and down the aisle at a grocery store to know that there are Black owned, manufactured products on the shelves and to consider supporting them. There are storefronts in our community, but there are also B2B businesses, Byers notes.
He says awareness is also key. Part of the directory is to make that Black designer at a Macys or a Lord & Taylor known to our community. So we have a section that allows you to shop by retailers such as Macys or Walmart and what the Black manufactured products or who the Black designers are within those stores.
Theres even a mini directory within the directory. Byers shares that their research indicates that some shoppers prefer to shop with associations or by affiliation, so Maggies List offers a breakdown of shopping by Greek organizations (Black fraternities and sororities) faith-based organizations and civic organizations. The information helps shoppers find the Black associations they want to support, so the money continuously stays in the community.
Byers says he and Anderson intend for the website to be the leading, innovative and transformational company in how conscious commerce is conducted and in facilitating increased economic activity, financial freedom and entrepreneurial excellence in the Black community.