Don’t Blackout: Support Black Lives Matter Movements AND Small Business Owners

With the recent tragedy and injustice caused by yet another case of “police brutality” I think we can call it manslaughter now. All four Minneapolis police officers involved with the arrest and murder of George Floyd all face criminal charges. FINALLY… but we are so far from the war being over. There will never be an “ah-ha” moment, it is always a slow build and push to get the justice system to transform into one that serves EVERYONE.

While I have been struggling to gather the words to express what I feel, I really had to think about everything that has been circulating in the social media vs. the Media. There is so much mismatched reporting it really saddens me as an alumni of journalism studies. While social media was doing “hard reporting”, as in protest attendees equipped on the ground recording protests, outing riot starters, looting and peacemaking between protesters and vandals, the Media (capital M for mainstream) paints the divide loud and clear. I don’t want to get into the Media anymore in this post, but the blurred messaging has been swirling in my mind.

“Tuesday June 2nd is meant to intentionally disrupt the work week […] It is a day to take a beat for honest, reflective and productive conversation about what actions we need to collectively take to support the Black community.”

Blackout Tuesday Initiative

While social media is winning the game in showing the message loud and clear, the event of the trending hashtag #BlackoutTuesday and #TheShowMustBePaused left me unsure if I should participate. Shouldn’t we be sharing more information and not less? The campaign originators expressed that if people partake in posting the simple black square to NOT use the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag as it was clogging up the algorithm for resources about where to support BLM with a bunch of black squares holding zero information. That was one of the problems for me.

A report by Nylon Magazine breaks down the confusion of #BlackoutTuesday in a recent article:

“To that end, now that June 2 has rolled around, record labels and music industry executives and players have begun posting solid black squares to their feeds as a visual cue for the blackout. This begs the vital question: how is this helping the cause?

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It’s true that the music industry has long profited off the labor and creativity of Black artists, often without proper repayment, credit, or accountability, as the “Blackout Tuesday” statement also points out. Just take a look back at the Grammys scandal that took place earlier in 2020 for the most recent moment of reckoning.”

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Yet, many on social media are pointing out the ineffectualness of the initiative to truly reckon with those institutional problems. Instead, “Blackout Tuesday” feels like a vague and performative gesture without offering any actual transparency or material action. Others, like Kehlani, have also pointed out that Tuesday isn’t actually the biggest business day for the music industry, which makes the initiative even more confounding.”

Artwork by @laurenmartin_studio

While well intentioned, many personal accounts of varying races were quick to jump onto this trend. I was about to as well, but I thought there has to be a better way. I thought about it for the next few days and I wanted to write about that. I am a white 30 something female and I’m quoting another phrase being circulated: “I will never understand, but I stand…” with you. Since I’m still battling the bureaucracy of receiving ANY unemployment due to me, I donated the amount of a cup of coffee to the Official Justice for George Floyd GoFundMe. What now? Then many of my acquaintances in the small business world were quick to advertise their friends and colleagues of color in the entrepreneurial world. This includes designers, vintage curators, beauty professionals, artists and various small business owners. So, the rest of this post is dedicated to sharing and supporting all of the businesses I have come across that are owned by POC and small businesses that are donating their earnings to various community bail funds around the nation.

Cool Girls Making Cool Sh*t

Since being on the Instagram, it has had its ups and downs as a creative platform. Its developed personalities that were born on the likes of MySpace and Buzznet into full fledged entrepreneurs over the matter of a decade in the information age. I wanted take this moment to pay my respects to some of my favorite creators and designers out there making things and working the work.

1) Tiny Thunder Design

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Photo: @tinythunderdesign

I first discovered this eclectic table of jewelry trinkets in Seattle at a market full of creators called the Bad Will Market. This gal Phoebe hand makes most, if not all, of her inventory, which is pretty spectacular since her Etsy store runs about 300+ items, from mainly jewelry to random vintage clothing. What I love about her items is that you can find anything from: pizza slice earrings, witchy crescent moons, crystals and resin pendant necklaces with many pop culture references. If your a fan of 90s cult classics like Twin Peaks, Jurassic Park, anything grunge or Pacific Northwest related. Give her a follow!

2) Moon Soda Co.

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Photo: flat lay of Moon Soda Co.’s first t-shirt design available for order (blondewednesdayaddams)

After searching for this particular Barbie x Forever 21 bodysuit, I finally saw it on this lovely girl’s Instagram while she was frolicking through The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Disney World in Orlando. I learned more about Sarah, aka Blonde Wednesday Addams, which is her Instagram alias and her blog space by giving her a follow. She is all about Halloween, anything Harry Potter (hello, fellow Ravenclaw!) or Disney related she has it, as well as Sailor Moon and Studio Ghibli paraphernalia. Her photos are beautifully edited, like Tinker Bell blew stardust all over them and she has knack for storytelling while being straight forward and pleasant all at once. Alongside entrepreneur Planet Pinwheel came up with Moon Soda Co. (store coming soon) as way to sell accessories with hints of classic and nostalgic Disney. Her first t-shirt design pays homage to familiar Disney Original movie hit Halloweentown, which I vaguely remember, as I was part of that 90s-2000s cohort.

3) Jini And Tonic

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Photo: @jiniandtonic

While I was wandering the streets of Logan Square, a neighborhood of Northwest Chicago, my friend who so graciously hosted me, showed me this lonely storefront called Flair. Inside was a small vintage round rack and a whole wall of enamel pins, sassy greeting cards and patches. Twin Peaks seems to come up A LOT in this blog, well anytime and of course there were some pins reminiscent of the Log Lady and Agent Dale Cooper speaking with Diane. The brand: Jini and Tonic perfectly meshes cult classic phenomena into wearable art. While some are pop culture references, a lot of designs played satirical keys of today’s wild politico world. The storefront has since closed due to lack of foot traffic in the area, however you can find her pins at various shops, pop-up markets in and around Chicago and of course online: Jini And Tonic.

4) Tesseomancer: Art By Tessa Tigges

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Photo: This beer kooze is one of the many cute, yet macabre things sold on her shop! (@tessatigges)

About a year into being a Vegas resident, I got a serving job at a cool place inside the Hard Rock Hotel. The girl who trained me happened to be this talented artist! She quickly left the desert life and is now based in Los Angeles. Her style is beautifully haunting and gothic just like her artwork. With intricate line work, her art features various desert-scape scenes, blended with all seeing eyes and alchemical symbolism. She pays homage to her Arizona origins with images of saguaro cacti, agave and other desert flora and fauna. Currently, she is sold out of most of her art work, but offers various homewares, like tote bags and mugs that feature her illustrations. You can find art by Tessa at Tasseomancer online and peep her Instagram for pop up markets.

5) Hunt & Orchard

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I have been following these two best friends for a few years now. Shining on through the downfall of their previous brand Gypsy Warrior, Nicla DiCosmo and Michel Bezoza started their more jewelry focused brand: Hunt & Orchard which offers new and vintage jewelry, talismans, accessories and manifestation kits. What I love about them is their branding. They are constantly updating their inventory as they find vintage pendants, rings and gem stones. From having so much success with Gypsy Warrior, they have kept strong relationships with their clientele, major plus if your developing a new e-commerce shop. Brands that manage to keep and grow their customers from a previous endeavor to a new project are doing it right. Hunt and Orchard periodically hold contests and flash sales, so give them a follow! I’ve been lucky to score from time to time.

Xo