MILWAUKEE — One of the best ways we can recognize, and honor Black History Month is by supporting local, Black-owned businesses.
Wednesday evening people gathered at Indeed Brewing Company in the Walker’s Point neighborhood for a Winter Block Party to support Black entrepreneurs.
The event was organized by MKE Black, a non-profit that works to celebrate and promote Black business and connects Black business owners to resources and networks.
Gevonchai Hudnall-Vogel is the founder of “Ghetto Mantras,” specially curated care packages for black women, that contain products created by Black entrepreneurs from around the country.
“I’ve found a supportive community here, but I would love to increase awareness” Hudnall-Vogel said. “A lot of people want to support diverse, local businesses, but sometimes they just don’t know how, or don’t know about the options. It would be great if we could make searching out, or supporting Back-owned businesses in some way, a daily practice. Rather than just going to the big box retailers we’re all used to. It can start in small ways.”
“I think we’re absolutely getting better because of the work that we’re doing now, and the spaces we’re creating together to showcase our work,” said Ashley S. Stokes. “Community support is essential.”
Stokes is a local author who wrote a book about her childhood in foster care. The book is called “Lost in Child Welfare.” Her mission is to help others as a Black female entrepreneur.
“My goal is to promote healing,” Stokes said. “To be an inspiration to Black women specifically, and kids growing up in foster care, so they see someone that went through it and rose above it. I want them to know they can create a better life for themselves, even after trauma.”
Stokes and Hudnall-Vogel are among the women in Milwaukee, working to make the city a more inclusive business environment.
Out of 28,668 businesses in Milwaukee, 524 or 1.8 percent are Black-owned. That’s according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau Business Survey, analyzed by LendingTree.
LendingTree also found that the Milwaukee metro area has the 8th lowest percentage of Black-owned businesses in the country.
The non-profit, MKE Black, is helping by organizing events, promoting Black businesses, and connecting them to resources.
More local companies are also stepping up. Indeed Brewing Company donates all taproom profits to different non-profit organizations every Wednesday. MKE Black is the recipient this week.
“We’re inviting people that we feel are great to do business with, and we want to make sure there’s a space for everybody,” said Grant Steskal with Indeed Brewing Company.