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Only in CT: Support Small, Local, Black-Owned Businesses Saturday & Beyond

NBC Connecticut logo NBC Connecticut 11/27/2020 Caitlin Burchill
a person sitting at a table in a park © Provided by NBC Connecticut

Evening the playing field for business owners: that’s one of the goals of Shop Black CT, a website that has expanded from featuring just over 100 Black-owned businesses in our state to more than 1,000 in just a couple of months.

“I was looking for Black-owned businesses to support and I had a hard time finding them,” said founder Sarah Thompson.

So Thompson and a team of volunteers created Shop Black CT this summer.

It doesn’t just offer up a list of Black-owned businesses, but the site’s volunteers help amplify, elevate, and promote them for free.

a group of people on a sidewalk © Provided by NBC Connecticut

Organizers hope you’ll join them live from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday on their Facebook page for their "Small Business Saturday" virtual event.

They’ll be showcasing lots of items perfect for gifting someone else, or even yourself, this holiday season.

“So here is an opportunity to give back and to sort of almost correct the wrongs that have happened historically in our society by supporting a community of individuals who have not necessarily in all times in our history have gotten a fair shot,” said Yvette Young, a Shop Black CT team lead.

“If you shop local, if you shop Black, the reality is that you’re supporting a small business that can stay alive during a very difficult time on our society," she continued.

“So there’s six of us in the house at any given time, so that’s a lot of people to feed and support. It just helps," said the creator of “That Natural Stuff” Leah Jones.

“That Natural Stuff” is one of 23 businesses participating in Shop Black CT’s small business virtual event Saturday.

Jones, a Hartford resident, suffers from eczema, so she began making her own natural shea butter to treat it.

“I started making it in my kitchen and testing it on my husband and my kids and of course they were sick of me slapping stuff on them and asking them 'how does this smell? How does this feel?'”

This August, she launched her own website and she’s since been busy packing orders for a wide variety of products from her home.

“I have my oils and I have my body scrubs and I have bath soaps, so it’s all about relaxation," said Jones.

Minna Murphy, creator of Zeni Beauty Cosmetics is participating in the Shop Black CT Saturday event, too.

The Middletown resident said she’s worked in the makeup industry for years and has been sought after because she was ahead of the curve: custom blending foundations and concealers for people of all skin tones.

“So there’s brown and there is brown. So there is my shade of brown and I can get three more women who are supposedly ‘my shade’ and we won’t be the same color,” explained Murphy.

For decades, a variety of shades weren’t readily available on pharmacy store shelves.

“In the industry, because women of color weren’t the focus, there wasn’t a lot of money put behind it,” said Murphy.

She looks forward to selling and sharing information about her customizable makeup line Saturday.

“I don’t just cater to women of color, I hit every range from the lightest of light to the darkest of dark and everything in between," said Murphy.

In the thick of this turbulent year, Shop Black CT organizers and businesses hope you’ll take a minute to think about where you spend your cash so you can help support all members of our community.

Click here for Shop Black CT’s “Holiday Discount Guide.” Use the promo: SHOPBLACKCT20 for special discounts through Dec. 31.

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