Fifteen cities. Black women business owners. H&M. Nicki Porcher thought it was recipe for success.
Porcher is the founder of the nonprofit, Buy From a Black Woman. It’s an online directory that contains more than 600 black woman owned businesses from across the country. But she wanted to do more with that directory. So in 2018, she started the first Black Women Inspire tour. She organized pop-ups in different cities to allow her vendors to set up shop and sell their merchandise.
As the tour grew each year, Porcher decided she needed more space in order to grow. So earlier this year, Porcher reached out to the Swedish clothing retail company H&M to see if they could partner together. She suggested hosting Black marketplaces at their stores with female-owned businesses.
“Well you have so many more tools and resources, is there a possible marketplace type thing you can do?” Porcher recalled asking H&M.
H&M was on board. After several meetings and conversations, the pop-up shopping tour was announced with the goal of highlighting, empowering, and supporting Black women business owners. It would pass through 15 cities during July.
“The opportunity to be part of the Inspire tour was definitely something that has encouraged myself, and the other Black women involved, to really make sure that we’re being as intentional as Nicki is being,” says Juanita Henderson, owner of Chocolate Kinks & Kurls. “Her partnership and the collaboration with H&M and Buy From A Black Woman is something that I think is game-changing for us.”
The tour kicked off in Atlanta, and ended in Los Angeles. According to Porcher, H&M has been more than warm and welcoming during the coordination of the tour, and to all the organizations who have been involved. Porcher says not only did H&M provide a space for the tour, but they made sure Black women were seen, supported and heard, which is true to Porcher’s mission.
“After working with H&M, I’m proud that we shared the same vision.,” said Porcher. “Throughout the tour, they understood the importance of supporting Black women businesses with the entire coordination to include assisting with hiring a Black female photographer, to having a Black production team… H&M has been a true ally by using their tools and resources to amplify our message.”
While each city had different vendors, Porcher tried her best to keep the unique feel at every pop-up. She reached out to her more than 600 Black-woman-owned business directory and was able to secure a variety of vendors from around the country. Their businesses ranged from candles to shirts to greeting cards and haircare lines.
And her directory keeps growing. Porcher said her nonprofit began in 2016 but has now grown into a larger community. The non-profit now offers grants, scholarships, financial support in the form of microloans, and networking opportunities for the Black Women owned businesses.
While the tour may be over, Porcher says her relationship with H&M is not. There have been discussions surrounding a sustainability accelerated program where there will be funding opportunities for the Black women business owners along with further discussion on how to amplify and promote Black women.
“It has been overwhelmingly exciting. The response has been amazing. It has been an extremely gifted opportunity for all parties involved, both on the Black Women business owners’ (side), but also H&M, everybody is truly benefiting from this partnership and I love to see it.”