EDITOR’S NOTE: South King Media Founder/Publisher Scott Schaefer serves on the Board of Directors for the Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce.
Supporting Black Businesses is Celebrating Black History
By Margie Haywood
Black History Month is more than just an observance since February of 1976. Black History Month is a time to reflect on and with the efforts led by scholar Carter G. Woodson, who was dedicated to recognizing the historic and invaluable contributions of Black Americans and the impact to grow our communities, economies, and world.
Here we are, February 2022, and now more than ever before, one of the best ways to celebrate Black History Month, is to be intentional in supporting black-owned businesses during this month and remembering to incorporate these businesses throughout the year! You get to be a part of making Black history for future generations to look back on!
On my mission to find spaces to help me be more productive, inspired, and close to home, I came to realize was that there was no kind of platform, network or community space that were intentional about attracting and welcoming people of color, parents, and entrepreneur women like myself. That’s when my business idea launched, and my journey started.
Work and Play Lounge was created to serve as inspirational platforms for all people to share their passions, exchange ideas and collaborate with a network of like-minded people. We are in a hurry to inspire, and our brand is built on the idea that when we profit so do our communities. We believe in volunteering, supporting, and collaborating with our members and local businesses to build stronger communities. I want Work and Play Lounge to be a workspace for unity! A place where everyone can gather and not have to worry about feeling excluded or isolated because of our differences. Diversity makes things beautiful!
Making Black History
As the owner of Work and Play Lounge, creating history was going to be a part of my path, due to the limited funding opportunities and resources that Blacks need access to in order to build profitable businesses. But no matter the obstacles and barriers, I optimistically pursued this dream. Through overcoming hardships and denials of funding, I quickly recognized the need to be a trailblazer, a voice for others and unifying people across racial boundaries to be the key to building relationships within my community for people to feel welcome to utilize services at a Black-owned establishment.
Many supporters, like you, helped me create Black history in February 2016. I am so excited to say I was the first Black-woman owned coworking space in the entire state! That only happens when diverse communities come together, share by word of mouth, purchases, and collaborations with Black-owned businesses. I am proud to say I am 1 of only 56 of the Black-owned coworking spaces, which is a tiny fraction of over 4,000 coworking spaces in America.
Ways to Support Black History Beyond February
Small businesses and entrepreneurs have been longtime economic drivers and wealth builders in our society. They stabilize a community and create more opportunities for meaningful savings, property ownership, credit building, and generational wealth. It is important to be intentional about providing support beyond the holidays and throughout the year. Support can come in the form of making a purchase, referring others, engaging on social media with tags, shares, and comments. Subscribe to the company’s email list and submit a positive review. Be an advocate for the small business. By simply taking time to shake up our buying habits, we can contribute to strengthening Black businesses, which stimulates the local and national economy and reduces poverty in your area.
The Business Leader’s Call to Support Black Businesses
We all know how important it is to get new and returning customers in business and how essential manufactures, suppliers and strong revenue is to the livelihood of a profitable business. Imagine not getting funding or being profitable just because you are Black? This is what some of our peers have faced and they need your help to change this!
As business owners and professionals, we also have a responsibility to support Black businesses by intentionally marketing to, being welcoming of, and removing access to critical services and products that are essential to the operation of Black businesses. As community leaders we need to work together to develop more ways to integrate, invest in and advance Black businesses to the point it’s no longer needed to separately market, label or highlight that a business is Black owned, but instead it’s an equitable marketplace for all business owners no matter their skin color to have equal opportunities to create and run profitable business.
Let’s Collaborate this Black History Month
I am honored to be still standing here and I hope you are inspired and encouraged to keep advocating for stronger business communities. Celebrating and supporting other people is a shift in our cultural norms and will take education and being intentional. Be patient with yourself on this journey, plan, keep making small steps and you’ll look back and see the big picture of how your investment in Black businesses creates a boomerang effect and comes back to you. Stumbling blocks and barriers may slow you down, but get back up, move them out of your way and pursue goodness in communities for everyone.
I hope you will join me in that effort all year round!
This article was written by Margie Haywood, Chief Encouragement Officer of Work and Play Lounge.
Work and Play Lounge
4700 42nd Ave SW Suite 535
Seattle, WA 98116
“A voice for business, a leader in the community.”
Seattle Southside Chamber has served the communities of Burien, Des Moines, Normandy Park, SeaTac, and Tukwila since 1988. For more information about the Chamber, including a full list of member benefits and resources, please visit their website at www.SeattleSouthsideChamber.com.