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Being an ally to Black-owned outdoor businesses isn’t something that should be limited to Black History Month. It’s a year-round commitment to learning and action. Here are some ways to do that:
1. Learn more about systemic racism
Educate yourself on the experiences of Black people (especially in the outdoors) and systemic racism. Subscribe to newsletters like Anti-Racism Daily and read stories by Black outdoor enthusiasts like The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors by James Edward Mills.
2. Financially invest in Black-owned outdoor businesses
Black-owned businesses have a harder time securing capital, so look for ways in which you can help Black-owned outdoor businesses, entrepreneurs, or start-ups secure loans, funding, and financially grow to be successful.
3. Recommend Black-owned outdoor businesses
For sales reps, recommending Black-owned outdoor businesses might be easy. For others, this may require some creative thinking — like recommending them for awards, media coverage, investment opportunities, collaborations, etc.
4. Partner with Black-owned outdoor businesses
Make a personal connection with the owners of Black-owned outdoor businesses and come up with ways to collaborate or partner on projects.
5. Understand how the pandemic affected Black-owned businesses
Black-owned businesses were the hardest hit in the pandemic. Find ways to help them survive and thrive, and if they have an outstanding payment, work with them on payment plans.
6. Share opportunities with Black-owned outdoor businesses
When you hear about exciting opportunities, share them with Black owners of outdoor businesses you’ve created personal connections with. If those opportunities require reference letters or introductions, step up.
7. Highlight Black-owned outdoor businesses through your network
Authentically highlight Black-owned outdoor businesses on your social media and website. Remember, this shouldn’t be a one-time action to substitute for the hard work it takes to make our industry anti-racist. Think how you can make the post authentic and mindful.
8. Guide a small business into wholesale
In our search for Black-owned outdoor businesses to spotlight, we noticed two things. First, there are many small Black-owned brands who do not sell wholesale because they don’t have the necessary connections to specialty outdoor shops. Second, there are many Black-owned businesses that toe the line between “lifestyle” and “outdoor.” Reach out and help these businesses see the benefit of operating in the outdoor sphere and help to facilitate small Black-owned businesses into the world of wholesale.
9. Discover ways to provide mentorship
Mentorship can be an eye-opening and invaluable experience especially for Black entrepreneurs looking to make a name for themselves in the outdoor space. Share your advice and experience freely.
10. Advocate for policy change
Use your voice to affect change on the policy level so that entrepreneurship can become a more equitable arena for all business owners regardless of race.