In August 2020, a Federal Reserve Bank of New York report found that Black-owned businesses were more than twice as likely to shutter as their White counterparts. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Newtown Florist Club Executive Director the Rev. Rose Johnson said the directory serves as an acknowledgment and reminder to invest in Black businesses.

“We chose to feature the full scope of this activity, recognizing that resources for economic development in the African American community are woefully inadequate,” Johnson said. “The need for financial and technical support, small business incubators, set-asides for women and minority-owned businesses and microloan programs are sorely needed to give business owners time and room to grow.”   

For Abeba Lemma, owner of A&A Beauty Supply, helping Black women find the true beauty in their hair — natural or otherwise — is one way she loves giving back to her community. The meaning of hair in the Black community is multifaceted, and has often historically been used to suppress or demean Black women. At A&A Supply, all hair from twists, curls, dreads and braids, is celebrated. 

“It’s a joy, a joy to show someone how beautiful their hair can be, how beautiful different colors and styles can accentuate,” Lemma said. “When I came here from Ethiopia to Hall County (in 1986), I noticed there wasn’t a place that was selling Black hair products at an accessible rate or an affordable price.”

For Lemma, hair is linked to one’s identity, and it’s a responsibility that she takes seriously.