August 1 marks beginning of National Black Business Month

August 1 marks the start of National Black Business Month, an initiative that's been running for more than 15 years.

The day is also the grand opening for Heiress Salon, which sits inside The Black Store on Cullen Blvd. in south Houston.

The owners hope to take over a beauty supply industry dominated by Korean retailers.
“It’s just very hard to break into it,” says co-owner Randy Shelby Jr. “As a Black retailer, Korean distributors don't want to do business.”

The Black Store crowdfunded to open its doors, and on the shelves sit locally-made, black-owned products that have trouble finding space elsewhere.

It's a strategy to even the playing field for Black entrepreneurs.

“The fact that you are Black, that comes with a lot of challenges. I think those challenges should be met face on,” says Shelby. “We will be respected, and we will be getting the same prices and same treatment.”

In a survey from Groupon and the National Black Chamber of Commerce, 74% of Black business owners say they’ve had fewer opportunities because of a lack of capital and resources.


Greater Houston's Black Chamber of Commerce says it’s pushing to close the gap.

“Creating and generating more capital within our own community is one solution that we can depend on while we're still trying to figure out how to get greater access to capital,” says Chair Carol Guess.

The chamber estimates there are more than 91,000 Black-owned businesses in the Greater Houston area. For Black Business Month in August, they're promoting member businesses and companies helping Black communities through their “Support Those Who Support Us” campaign.

“People are upset about systemic racism. Well, a major way to settle the issue is for economic equality to be attained, and that can be done through supporting our Black businesses,” said Guess.

The Black Store hopes to eventually wager that support on distribution ownership and franchises across America.

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“We’re talking about a major revolution in this industry - busting down doors that have never been opened before,” says Shelby.

He also plans to continue holding that door open for other Black entrepreneurs trying to find a way in.