Growing up, I regularly heard Black people express their reasons for not wanting to support Black-owned businesses––too expensive, poor quality products, terrible customer service, scarcity, etc. As a child, convenience would always win the household money over principle––until it was time for a press and curl, in which case the Black salon would always prevail.
Even as an undergrad in Atlanta, I still heard the same disparaging comments related to buying Black. The turning point for me was while attending graduate school in St. Louis, in the wake of Mike Brown’s very public killing, when my university––with all its resources––did nothing. For months, I struggled to find a way to make a difference until I saw #BlackoutBlackFriday on social media. The call to action encouraged consumers to either only shop Black-owned businesses or boycott Black Friday shopping altogether. That is when I decided to ignore the whispers I had heard my entire life and started consciously buying Black. I have not looked back.
I found Black businesses that had great quality and incredible customer service. I learned more about business and some of the challenges smaller businesses face, such as the cost of doing business when you do not have resources to mass-produce goods, which would cut cost and, ultimately, prices. Understanding this helped me be okay with spending a little bit more in some cases. It was not long before my friends started coming to me for recommendations. And that’s how Black Girl Buying started.
Black Girl Buying connects Black businesses and consumers. On my blog, I share my experiences along my journey to find and support Black-owned businesses on a daily basis. I also provide services to Black businesses to help them connect to their desired audience so they can focus on what they love––their business. I am constantly looking to replace my existing products and services with Black-owned providers, which is why I am so excited about The Nile List.
The Nile List is a digital community that connects consumers to Black-owned brands. Their goal is to fill in the gaps and streamline the process of buying Black. For anyone who has ever said “I can’t find a Black business that sells X” or “There aren’t any Black businesses near me,” The Nile List takes care of that.
I’m super excited about their search feature which allows you to navigate the site multiple ways. Looking for a particular product? Enter the product in the search field and The Nile List will do the rest. Or take advantage of the more than 15 tags and 50 categories. Tags allow you to select businesses that operate in line with your values––made in America, vegan, veteran-owned, youth-involved, etc.––and acknowledge that Blackness is not our only interest when we shop. Categories, on the other hand, allow you the freedom to browse when you are not exactly sure what you are looking for or when you are in the mood to discover new businesses. Planning a wedding? Want to add something to your closet? Need sporting goods? Choosing The Nile List categories will pull up businesses in these areas.
Outside of the categories, I appreciate the philosophy behind The Nile List. All of the businesses (called Nilists) listed on the site can join for free. When Nilists are featured in The Nile List’s blog, it’s because they are doing Dope Black Things that everyone needs to know about, and not because they paid to appear. In a world where so many people are concerned about making a profit at every possible point, I love that The Nile List is putting our people on, authentically and mostly at no charge.
If that’s not enough of a reason to make The Nile List your go-to online shopping spot, let me tell you about the founder. Khadijah Robinson is, quite simply, a boss. She’s my Spelman sister (so you know I stan) and Harvard-educated lawyer. Before starting The Nile List, she also blogged about books. Khadijah really loves everything about Black people and Black-owned businesses. She started The Nile List because it was difficult for her to support Black businesses while shopping online, so she built something to change that. That’s the kind of person I will always stand behind.
I personally stopped frequenting Amazon a couple years ago, so I am excited to start shopping on The Nile List for a streamlined process. Given what I know about Khadijah, I am sure that The Nile List will do exactly what we hope it will: make it easier for us to buy Black online. They’ve produced a Holiday Guide and a Dope Black Things ebooklet (complete with discount codes!) which are amazing previews of what the full site will be. I cannot wait for all the Dope Black Things coming now and in the future!
Jamie Gray is an adopted Atlantan, licensed attorney, and social advocate. As the founder of Black Girl Buying, Jamie works to connect Black businesses and consumers and remove the stigma around buying Black. You can read more about her experiences at blackgirlbuying.com and connect with Black Girl Buying on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @blackgirlbuying.