BlackOwned.co: How To Start Your Own Black Business

Interview with Jamie Robinson, founder and CEO of BlackOwned.co, a marketing company for Black-owned businesses.

With the LetsBuyBlack trend becoming more and more popular in recent times, young Black entrepreneurs are also coming up with many wonderful products and services to serve the needs of the Black community. However, a huge problem that arises is how to connect the Black community with these businesses. The key to success will be an active and well-thought-through marketing drive.

Jamie Robinson set up BlackOwned.co to fill this gap. Her company helps Black-owned businesses to reach out to and connect with their potential clients. She’s next on Your Voices. Today, she is going to tell us about what her inspiration has been in setting up a marketing business targeting Black-owned businesses and the Black community. She also gives us a little insight into her work and how she is, in her own way, boosting interactions between Black-owned businesses and the Black community.

blackmattersus.com
First of all, can you tell us what inspired you to create a consulting and marketing business for Black-owned businesses?
Jamie Robinson
I started in 2013, right off after the George Zimmerman verdict. I live about 45 minutes away from where all of that went down, and so when the case was going on, there was a lot of tension in our area because I walk around everyday with a lot of people with a similar thought process as George Zimmerman. So when the verdict came down, I didn’t know what to do. Up until that point, I had a lot of success in the marketing field but I hadn’t really done anything specifically for my community. After that happened, it was like a turning point. And that’s when I really started wanting to do more work for Black people.
blackmattersus.com
Your logo with the fist shows a kind of connection with the Black Panthers. Is that correct?
Jamie Robinson
Not necessarily, no. Not specifically the Black Panthers, but definitely the fist represents Black unity and Black empowerment.
blackmattersus.com
Do you work regionally in your city or state or do you have clients from other states as well?
Jamie Robinson
I have clients from all around the world. In fact, I have actually no clients here in my community. And it’s funny because it’s a very small, very ‘white’ area of Florida. And my clients are definitely not from around here.
blackmattersus.com
What are some of the main issues that your clients come to you with?
Jamie Robinson
You know what the biggest thing is? They don’t know what to do or how to start. There are a lot of companies or consultants out there especially in the marketing field who are trying to run the business themselves. So of course they’re trying to get paid. I don’t want to say that’s not my intent, because of course, I have bills to pay as well. But when it comes to the work that I do with Black-owned businesses, I’m not really thinking about money. I’m thinking more about a mentoring type of thing and a helping and just to even put a permanent strategy together so that they can take that and have a road map, whether they decide to use me as their marketing consultant or not. They could take it and try to do everything on their own or they could reach out to another marketing person. But at least what it does is, it helps them understand what they should do based on the type of business that they’re in, because of course, everybody’s business isn’t the same. And it requires different ways to proceed depending on what type of business you are. So what I feel like is the most success for us, is when we’re able to help people understand what steps they should take first because that is where a lot of people get stuck and when they get stuck, they just stop.
blackmattersus.com
What do you think is the role of your company in promoting the LetsBuyBlack trend which is currently gaining popularity across the country?
Jamie Robinson
I think that’s the only way we’re going to really see any progress as a community. Because as it stands we’re so dependent upon the majority that there are very few things that we can do on our own. And that’s dangerous, because if tomorrow the majority decided that they wanted to cut us off, it would be really easy, and we wouldn’t last very long. And that’s sad. Until we start supporting and helping one another – that’s number one – and just supporting and helping ourselves as a community, being able to grow our own food, take care of ourselves or go to our own doctors, we could just not exist anymore. So it’s huge for us. 
blackmattersus.com
Are you connected with any network of media that focus on the promotion of Black businesses?
Jamie Robinson
Yes, several. There’s Gary Cosair that I work with. He’s got an up and coming website, he’s just on social media right now, it’s called The Morning Hip-Hop and he’s hoping to reach the 30-50 demographic. And he was basically raised in the ‘hip-hop’ era. I support several Black-owned directories and I’m always looking to network with our community.
blackmattersus.com
Can you tell us about some of the meaningful achievements you’ve had this year with your project?
Jamie Robinson
I would say the most important thing that I have done this year is basically building those strategies for those new companies. And to be honest with you, if I brought in $500 from that segment of the business, I still consider it a success. It’s not a lot of money and it’s not really anything a lot of people would brag about, but the strategies that went out helped each and every one of the companies. And most of the time I didn’t even charge for that. 
blackmattersus.com
You are doing very well helping in empowering the Black community. And I agree, like you said, that’s the only way we can be truly independent and go forward as a people, and that’s very great. My team and I would like to commend you on that.
Jamie Robinson
Thank you. We’ve got to do it. And I understand and realize that the Black-owned marketing is like my heart, it’s what I do to give back. And like I said, it’s not really a moneymaker, but it’s not going anywhere.
blackmattersus.com
Did you have any fears when you came up with this idea? If you were, what was it that scared you?
Jamie Robinson
I wasn’t afraid, but I had a lot of people tell me I shouldn’t do it, and they were afraid for me. I think they were afraid because of where I live, if people were to find out what I was doing, they’d have a problem with it and try to hurt me or my family. But I wasn’t afraid. It’s been a little over three years now, and we haven’t had any real issues. We’ve definitely had people push back – I’ve had white people in the community come at me – but it wasn’t anything that I couldn’t handle. And that’s one of the benefits of ownership. I don’t have to be afraid of anything that I say, because it’s not like somebody can go to my boss and say “Fire her!” So that comes with it’s own level of freedom. Other than that, I didn’t have any fear. I had more fear of not doing anything, to be honest, than actually taking a step to help the community.
blackmattersus.com
Would you connect your success in this field with the current popularization of the Black Lives Matter movement? Would you say that it has had any positive impact on your business or not?
Jamie Robinson
I don’t know if it’s promoted any success, I will say that it has definitely promoted familiarity or knowledge or it’s made people uncomfortable. It’s definitely started conversations, but on the community side, it’s gotten people that I’ve grown up with or I’ve known for all of my life – who never really thought about these issues or never really thought that they had to think about these issues – it’s got them thinking differently, which I love, especially family members. I’m like, “Oh my goodness, you’re finally coming over!” But the movement itself, I think it’s been positive, it’s been negative, but it’s been necessary. And I’m eager to see how it continues to grow and the conversations that it initiates and where it’s going to take us. But the most benefit I’m looking for, is the movement waking up our people. At this point, I’m more concerned about us and our people getting it together.
blackmattersus.com
Finally, is there anything special you’d like to say to our readers?
Jamie Robinson
I would say if you have any wish or dream of starting a business, don’t let fear stop you. Don’t let family members stop you. Ask questions, reach out if necessary, it’s not as hard as people make it sound. So if you have that desire to do so, by all means, do it, and do it today.

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