Beyoncé’s Black Parade Route is still funneling customers to Black-owned businesses
'The Beyoncé effect is real'
In July, BeyGOOD, Beyoncé’s philanthropic organization, and the NAACP announced a “Black-Owned Small Business Impact Fund to assist small business communities impacted by recent events.”
After the first round of consideration, 20 companies were awarded grants.
Although there are more rounds to come, only a limited number of businesses can receive financial assistance. Beyoncé and her team found another way to support these businesses, however, with The Black Parade Route, a dedicated a section of her site to the promotion of Black-owned businesses.
Zerina Akers, founder of Black Owned Everything, curates the directory of businesses and promotes different categories from time to time. Currently, The Black Parade Route is featuring African-owned businesses.
Sharifah Issaka, is an Accra-based creative consultant and producer on “Black is King.” She spends her days exploring her home country and connecting with people who are making moves across Ghana.
“I’m so glad they’re promoting work across continents and introducing new audiences to African brands,” she says. “I know everybody, but now the rest of the world will too.”
One of the companies she knows and loves is Hanahana Beauty. Founded by Abena Boamah, 29, Hanahana Beauty is based in Chicago, although the company sources materials from Tamale, Ghana. The company makes shea butter-based beauty products like creams and lip balms.
“The mission is how do we create sustainable pathways from our producer all the way to our consumer,” Boamah says. She looks at all of the people who put in work for her company and makes sure she is contributing positively to the supply chain.
Hanahana Beauty was featured on The Black Parade Route in mid-June.
“I got a text that was like ‘You lit,’” she tells theGrio. Initially, she didn’t realize what the text meant, but she was eventually able to take in what happened. She and her entire family were excited by the news.
“I really believe so strongly in our mission so I know whenever anyone shares it, it is automatically going to impact that line: from our producer all the way to our consumer, so I was excited,” Boamah says.
Hanahana Beauty coincidentally sold out right before they were featured on The Black Parade Route; though the company missed out on a potential sales boost, they constantly see conversions from the site.
Uzo Njoku’s brand, UzoArt, was also featured on The Black Parade Route in June and 13% of her site traffic during the first week of September was from Beyonce.com.
Her website began as a simple portfolio for her Master’s program applications, but after people began requesting prints she began experimenting with different business models that suited her best.
In July 2018, Njoku published a coloring book, which was a success. Fast forward to 2020, and Njoku is selling prints of her original art.
“With recent events, people are now trying to buy directly from artists instead of buying from corporations,” she explains.
Being featured on Beyonce.com helped with sales, and Njoku says she got more clicks on her site from people who normally wouldn’t have landed there.
“I definitely think it contributed to me being posted on Hypebeast. I got posted along with Virgil Abloh.”
Being posted has been an incredible gift for talented individuals with great ideas who just need a small push to get off the ground. Beyoncé’s features help legitimize small businesses that may be overlooked due to their novelty or lack of market share.
“In the beginning, I was trying so hard to get my business out there, and I sort of gave up,” said Olajumoke Jimoh.
Jimoh founded Jumz Accessories in 2018. The company sells unique bags that are handmade in Lagos. After starting the company, Jimoh said she didn’t feel established enough or feel that she had the right connections to gain traction. She decided to stop trying to drive up her customer base and focus on her craft.
The consistency paid off.
“I checked my business email and someone reached out to me and said, ‘I saw you’re featured on Black Parade, I’d like to offer you a free service,” she explains.
Jimoh was shocked because no one told her she would be featured.
“People trust businesses on that list,” the designer says. Although it’s hard to say whether or not the promotion led to directly to sales, being on it gave her validation.
“For small businesses, the best thing anybody can do for us is give us exposure,” Jimoh says.
Christina Horton-Dennis, 36, founder of Life of Neon, a custom neon shop, agrees with this.
“Beyoncé created awareness that there are so many amazing black businesses out here,” Horton-Dennis says. “The reality is it’s not ingrained in our culture to seek out black businesses to spend our money with anymore.”
Although she never went to art school, Horton-Dennis creates all of her popular designs on her own.
“I want to bring our culture and our swag to it,” she says.
Horton-Dennis shares that her most popular designs are her crown design and her Africa black fist design.
After being featured on The Black Parade Route, Horton-Dennis received a lot of custom design requests and heavy traffic to her site.
“That first two weeks was sheer Beyoncé traffic,” she explains.
Although it has died down a bit, she still sees traffic coming from Beyonce.com to this day.
Beyoncé’s gift of promotion is not only causing a ripple effect of exposure for these brands, but she is also channeling a steady flow of passionate, like-minded consumers to them. With a seemingly permanent spot on the site, these businesses may continue to see the effects of this for a while.
In the words of Sharifah Issaka, “The Beyoncé effect is real.”
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