There are more than two million Black-owned businesses in the U.S, and 35% of those are owned by Black women, according to Fundera.
Vodka brand Ciroc teamed up with radio personality and entrepreneur Angela Yee and rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs to support Black, women-owned businesses in a new campaign, #CIROCStands for Black Businesses, a digital content series that amplifies stories of local businesses.
The brand also redirected its advertising dollars to promote these businesses on billboards across their cities in sought after locations like Times Square. Business owners were also paired with one of Ciroc’s Black executive partners as a mentor.
#CIROCStands for Black Businesses is part of the alcohol brand’s #CIROCStands initiative with Combs, who has collaborated with the company since 2007. The initiative supports “Black excellence and achievement,” according to Ciroc.
The program kicked off in New York City with Yee visiting three woman-owned, Black businesses in Harlem and Brooklyn. She was joined by Emmy-nominated videographer Stephen John Irby, who documented the experience.
The business owners included Melissa Mitchner, founder of The Bark Shoppe, Harlem’s first and only 24-hour dog care facility; Akim Vann, owner of The Bakery on Bergen; and Ursula Stephen, founder of Ursula Stephen The Salon, a boutique salon.
“Black women are opening businesses at the highest rate,” Yee told Campaign US. “But I also feel like we don't get the support that we should get financially. Venture capitalists don't invest that much into Black women. So a lot of times when we start businesses, it's our own money. It's us raising money from our friends and family, saving up and emptying out our accounts to start these businesses. I can relate to that. And I'm looking forward to seeing how this actually makes a difference.”
Mitchner will be mentored by Natina Nimene, senior vice president, urban promotions & artist relations at Def Jam Records; Vann is paired with Thea Mitchem, executive vice president of programming at iHeart Media and Stephen teamed up with Brandice Daniel, founder and CEO of Harlem’s Fashion Row (HFR).
“We all have choices on where we can go, where we would like to buy things and what businesses we would like to support,” Yee said. “I just want us to pay attention to who the people are behind the businesses as well. It's been a rough time for so many of us. You can spend your money anywhere, why not spend it with Black and brown women?”