With more than 6,000 followers and growing fast, a new Instagram page is encouraging locals to support Black-owned businesses in Charlotte in a show of solidarity.
After witnessing the protests that have taken place in Charlotte and all over the United States, Jeff and Madeline Carothers, along with their longtime friend Ashley Creft, felt compelled to start the account to help further the movement.
“Being Black in America and in this city right now, we thought this was something we could do,” Madeline said. “We thought our role could be this, making an impact, even in a small way.”
But the effect hasn’t been small at all — the Instagram account, which was just created Sunday, has already garnered thousands of followers.
“We didn’t think support for this page would be as huge and fast as it’s been,” Madeline said. “It’s been a little overwhelming, in a good way, that so many people agree with the page’s mission.
THOUSANDS OF BLACK-OWNED BUSINESSES
Only one day after the account’s creation, followers tagged hundreds of local Black-owned businesses in the page’s comments. Now, thousands are listed.
“We stopped counting,” Madeline said.
She said she believes the account is resonating with so many because of the common struggle Black Charlotteans face when starting a small business.
“Charlotte is a beautiful city, and it’s growing fast. It’s supposed to be a place where there’s lots of opportunity, but if you’re Black like us, you see Charlotte from another perspective,” Creft said. “Sometimes you have to retreat to a ‘for us by us’ mindset. So I guess we wanted to uplift those people and highlight those struggles.”
Madeline knows these struggles personally — she’s a business owner herself. Though she and Creft are full-time social workers, Madeline spends evenings working on her wig-making company, A Curl’s Dream.
Oftentimes, Black businesses and entrepreneurs don’t have the same resources as their white counterparts and are forced to self-fund and/or rely on funding from friends and family to start their ventures. Bringing visibility to these businesses helps them succeed.
“We’ve seen how Charlotte has evolved, and there’s been a lot of gentrification,” Creft said. “Many Black businesses haven’t been able to withstand those changes.”
Supporting Black-owned businesses is also an action non-Black allies can take during this moment in Charlotte’s history. By supporting these businesses, allies are expressing solidarity with Charlotte’s Black community and creating a long-term positive effect.
NOT JUST A FAD
And Madeline hopes the support will continue long after the protests have ended.
“it’s important to support Black businesses all the time on purpose and be intentional about it. With any marginalized community, if you don’t shed a positive light on them and support them, they’ll wither,” Madeline said. “When you go out of your way to support them, it creates a lane for other businesses to succeed the same way.”
Originally, the page’s creators planned to highlight one business each day on the page and encourage their followers to support it, but now they’re working on compiling a comprehensive list of every Black-owned business in Charlotte, going so far to create a map broken down by neighborhood. Later on, they hope to create a website and host networking events for local Black business owners and entrepreneurs.
In the meantime, here’s a list of 50 black-owned businesses in Charlotte.