Meet the woman working with Diddy to revolutionize buying Black as we know it

“Now we are going to be moving dollars and circulating those dollars within our community," says Khadijah Robinson, Head of Product for Shop Circulate.

Khadijah Robinson, Head of Product at Shop Circulate (Credit: ShotBySomi)

“I really want to shop Black-owned, but don’t know where to find business,” many people said following the events of 2020 that included Black lives being lost in large numbers at the hands of a pandemic, and then again in police shootings.

Luckily for us, Spelman and Harvard Law graduate Khadijah Robinson created a list for that. The Nile List is an e-commerce directory for Black businesses that announced on Tuesday that it’s been acquired by Diddy, under Combs Enterprises, along with Salesforce.

The partnership means more resources, wider reach, and a new name — Shop Circulate. 

“Obviously, I would always prefer that Black lives are preserved and that no one has to die in order for us to really think more about how we can more systematically support the Black community, including Black entrepreneurs,” Robinson explained exclusively to theGrio. “But I am excited for the possibilities that this renewed interest and more intense focus can bring to really amazing entrepreneurs who need these resources and support.”

Neck and neck with TikTok, buying Black tops the list of “trends” that took over this past year. However, Robinson is making sure that this is not a fad that comes and goes. Her appointment as Head of Product for Shop Circulate will ensure that the brand isn’t another special project big-name companies funnel dollars into, only to watch it gradually fade away into the abyss.

“We are doing the same thing commercially, that we’ve been doing culturally for generations. We’ve always moved culture. So now we are going to be moving dollars and circulating those dollars within our community,” Robison says. 

Khadijah Robinson, Head of Product at Shop Circulate x
Khadijah Robinson (Credit: ShotBySomi)

From an award-winning line of signature BBQ sauces to sage scented candles hailing from North Carolina —shoppers will be able to find a host of items on Shop Circulate, which launches in November. Think: An entire Rolodex of Black-owned everything. Prior to the launch, closed beta testing will take place among a small community of both shoppers and sellers to make sure the platform is in tip-top condition to circulate those dollars.

That should be easy seeing that since The Nile — the blueprint for this all-new venture — successfully launched in March 2020, it’s exceeded Robinson’s expectations. A spreadsheet she created grew organically as an answer to her own problem of wanting to buy Black and not knowing where to start.

She quickly realized friends and family were having the same issue. That spreadsheet kept growing and now she’s working with the Sean “Diddy” Combs. So what’s that like?

Robinson can’t help but praise the media mogul’s business sense and looks forward to the journey they have ahead. She notes it’s the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre’s profound impact on Diddy that inspires him to be a driving force for Black-owned businesses. This little piece of rarely talked about American history happened when white residents attacked Black residents and burned businesses of the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“This really is a venture that was conceptualized and incubated by Sean Combs himself,” she maintains. Indeed, when talking about the future of Shop Circulate, the Washington, D.C. resident uses the word “excited” several times. Not just in reference to her newfound career shift from attorney to head of product, but for the “surprises” she and Diddy have in store for us, like seeing what your favorite celebrities and influencers are doing and buying on the platform.

Official Black Wall Street, the leading directory to discover Black-owned businesses, has already inked a partnership with Shop Circulate. “We are going to revolutionize Black commerce, and I am very ready to be a part of that,” Robison affirms.

Sign up here for updates on Shop Circulate’s launch in November.

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