Editor’s note: Johnny Hackett is the founder and CEO of Black Dollar Corp., a Black-owned business directory, retail shop and retail coworking factory that is about maximizing Black entrepreneurship. In partnership with Empower All, Inc., it has launched the “No Fee ‘Til 2023’ campaign this month.
RALEIGH — A few months ago, I was asked by a reporter for this feature: “What can the community at large do to help Black businesses in the Triangle?”
I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out what to do since.
Today, we see these scary things happening in our economy on a national scale. A never-ending virus. Rising gas costs. War. Inflation. A looming recession. But our goal is figuring out how we can be resilient, ahead of the curve locally, and this is why we are launching the “No Fee Til 2023” campaign. The goal: to raise up to $250,000 in funding that will cover fees for small business owners at our flagship sites, the Black Friday Market and The Factory, all the way through January 2023.
Who we are, and how we help
#BlackDollarNC is our small tech startup supporting over 1,000 local business owners who are primarily in the retail industry; an industry in this region that typically comes second with regard to exposure because of the huge successes and advancements in startup and corporate tech, along with successful research. Historically, small business owners are going to be hit the hardest in unstable economic circumstances.
At Black Friday Market, we serve anywhere between 50 to 70 individual business owners each month selling their own products in the store. They pay a flat fee to be in the store, and keep 100% profits. We take zero commission. The flat monthly fee business owners pay helps us to cover expenses related to rents, utilities, store operations supplies such as bags or label makers, staffing, and any other amenities needed to run a retail department store. It’s not a lucrative model for us, yet, one that is of mutual benefit. But we’ve started to see the struggle of business owners either maintaining their product inventory or maintaining their monthly membership to stay in the store.
The Factory has a similar model, but instead of selling products, members and guests are able to produce products and use the space for their operations. You should see the community that we’re building, training we provide, and support being given. Every race, age, background, orientation, industry, and purpose.There are beautiful and tangible things happening at The Factory when it comes to networking, learning, and engaging. Currently, The Factory is free for business owners, but our funding grant won’t be able to sustain that for the long term.
An answer that helps the most
My original answer to that question about help centered around gaining a deeper understanding of supply needs for a certain segment of business owners, but the piece about eliminating significant and prohibitive costs for small business owners was the jewel. Finding the right answer kept me up at night for the last seven weeks until I found the solution.
I want to eliminate monthly membership fees for local, small business owners and entrepreneurs at our Black Friday Market and The Factory locations through February 2023. Together, we can remove “pay to play” costs for small business owners for the next six months with a fundraising campaign that covers monthly membership costs. This will allow entrepreneurs and small business owners to sell their products at zero cost at Black Friday Market, while also using The Factory at zero cost to continue to produce their products (co-manufacture) and co-work. This support will help many survive and sail through the upcoming storm.
There is a special place in my heart for the Triangle and the amazing companies I’ve been fortunate to have great professional experiences with. Xerox made me believe that I could actually do this, IBM sharpened my skills, BCBSNC shaped my confidence, and Unity Web Agency was the final piece to the “what it takes to be an entrepreneur/startup” puzzle. I’ve been very blessed to learn from some great minds, and it was that support that led me down the path I’m on today.
This is an opportunity to strengthen our Triangle business community, because there are so many great companies here with a passion for leading, being the best at what they do, and who are not as negatively impacted as other small businesses are during tough economic times. While tech and research have always been our sign of greatness, I’m hoping to use our influence to pave the way for us to one day become recognized as a great place for the production and consumption of locally made products, right here in the Triangle.
Goal: $250,000 raised by Labor Day
Our goal is to raise $250,00 by Labor Day, September 5.
I ask for your consideration in helping us achieve this through contributions made to our non-profit partner. Your support means we can then support thousands of local business owners and entrepreneurs while also providing our community with more services through all of our platforms; a benefit that keeps on benefiting.