In the UK, many big businesses who have been around for some time are having to retrofit diversity by hiring new talent, retraining legacy staff and acquiring new customers via diversity marketing that often lacks authenticity and credibility.
This is a story about two new Black-owned startup businesses that are authentically rooted in their communities.
C1V1L is a Black-owned direct-to-customer jewellery brand that has emerged at a time when fashion brands have long been accused of using black culture for profit, but are often owned by white men.
This insight led to the creation of the C1V1L brand (@becivil). The brand was created by the former MD of ad agency Jerry Media, Blakely Thornton, model Slick Woods and eyewear designers Coco and Breezy Dotson. The product range is simple – necklaces, bracelets and rings. The magic is in the business model, which sees 20% of profits fed back into minority and female-owned companies.
Closer to home, UK-business Jamii is a discount card that can be used at Black-owned British businesses - the first of its kind.
Jamii’s mission is to impact habits and behaviours, to nurture support for the incredible businesses within Black communities. According to founder Khalia Ismain (@ukjamii), ‘building businesses around cultural and community-centric products, such as cuisine and hair, creates pride in those aspects of our identity”.
Khalia’s journey towards being an entrepreneur is a fascinating one which you can read more about here.
Being authentic from day one enables businesses to develop products and services that they really understand - ‘by us, for us’. It’s a significant cultural nuance that allows them to empathise with their customers and supporters in ways other businesses just can't. Businesses are never built by one person, so having a connected, like-minded support community that includes customers and investors from day one is a significant boon.