HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — Staying afloat has not been easy for businesses over the last year, especially black-owned small businesses. Data shows they were nearly twice as likely to fail during the COVID-19 pandemic, but beyond that, they still face challenges.
“It’s navigating a community of resources that sometimes be challenging,” explained PrePOPsterous owner Tisha McCoy-Ntiamoah.
McCoy-Ntiamoah says that even before the pandemic, through sales and mentorship, there has been a lot of support for her business in the Shenandoah Valley.
“As much as it is important that I identify and recognize being a Black business owner, I hope at the root of it, it’s just being a good community member and good support for other businesses,” McCoy-Ntiamoah said.
Harrisonburg City Councilman Chris Jones worked to bring back the Diversity Business Council for the Harrisonburg Chamber of Commerce to help businesses like PrePOPsterous in the area. He says supporting black businesses helps the entire community.
“It is inspiring to our school-aged children who are majority-minority. So it gives them something to aspire for when they look and see Black female-owned businesses, Hispanic family-owned businesses Middle Eastern family-owned businesses. I think that is healthy and strong for those Black and brown children who are the majority in our school system,” Jones said.
Naomi and Michelle Braziel run Sweet Joy’s Cakes and Desserts from their home-based kitchen. The mother-daughter baking duo says they’ve seen a lot of support from the community.
“It’s not about the color of our skin, but the product and who we are as a business. I think that has really helped us in this area. I’m so thankful that we can represent our culture in a good way. That we are putting out a good product and people do like us and they come back,” Michelle Braziel said.
Sweet Joy’s has seen sweet success since the pandemic began.
“You look at Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and all of those that made strides for Black people. It took some get-up. It took some staying with whatever you are passionate about, they stuck to it. I think that is what we try to put with Naomi, that even when she is tired, this has got to get done, we got to continue,” Braziel said.
There are many ways you can support a black-and-brown-owned business, not just this month, but year-round. You can start with any one of the businesses or restaurants on the list below.
If you would like your business added to this list, please reach out by clicking here.
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