LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 23, 2021) — One hundred years after “Black Wall Street” was burned down in the Tulsa Race Massacre, one University of Kentucky College of Communication and Information alumnus is trying to build a Black Wall Street that can stand the test of time online.
In June 2020, Savon Gray, a 2018 journalism graduate, started Black Business Boxes with his best friend, Robbie Dobbs. The Louisville native had watched as the outrage over the killing of former UK student Breonna Taylor had grown into ongoing protests in his city. Gray decided to take action by addressing the underlying issues of race and economics in America.
Through research, Gray discovered some incredible figures on Black finances. Black Americans make up only 14% of the population yet spend around $1.2 trillion a year. Figuring that money runs the country and having worked in finance himself, Gray wanted to help give the Black community more control over their wealth.
With the prevalence of the Black Lives Matter movement, public interest for Black-owned businesses increased. However, Gray knew how time-consuming it was to find and vet such businesses. He was also unsure of how often these business promotions led to sales for Black entrepreneurs. So, he created a solution to put Black-made products directly into people’s hands.
“We want to be your one-stop-shop for everything Black-owned,” Gray said. “Let’s make it easy to support Black-owned businesses. You got one place where you know there’s going to be multiple different Black-owned businesses that you can support. Now we’re circulating the dollar in our community. We’re empowering Black entrepreneurs. We’re giving Black people money, period. And we’re building a Black economy, which is kind of our mission statement.”
Through reaching out to Black-owned businesses across the country through professional events, social media and personal networking, Gray and Dobbs were able to create two services to help both Black entrepreneurs and their customers. By featuring businesses on Black Business Boxes’ online marketplace, consumers can easily find business’ websites to shop individual products. Gray and Dobbs also provide a monthly subscription box filled with various items from different businesses that follow a certain theme.
The business partners’ first subscription box launched in July 2020, just a month after starting their company. That box featured a lavender-infused hand sanitizer to help fight off rising COVID-19 cases. Other items featured in their boxes have included specialty nut butters, sunglasses, lip scrubs, watches and more. Their current box has a self-care theme, and within the next year there are plans to have quarterly theme releases.
Despite being a relatively young company, Black Business Boxes has caught the attention of many. It was named Minority Business of the Month by Louisville City Football Club and has been featured in the Courier-Journal, Black Enterprise, USA Today and several other news services. Gray believes his communication background and his abilities to speak and clearly convey the company’s idea have been a leading cause for their success. He also feels like the press coverage signals that they are doing something important that the world needs.
“If Black Business Boxes can help add an hour to how long a dollar stays in our community, what does that do? What does that look like in the world?” Gray said. “That’s what drives us, and that’s the change we want to make.”
If you would like to learn more about Black Business Boxes, visit https://blackbusinessboxes.com/.
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