Houston black business owners team up to host virtual marketplace

As several big businesses such as Neiman Marcus and JCrew announce they will be filing for bankruptcy, some Houston business owners are coming together to keep that from happening to them.

They hope you will help them survive the COVID-19 crisis. 16 small and black-owned business owners here in Houston hope there’s strength in numbers. They are teaming up to put on a virtual marketplace and you are invited.

For instance, if you love vintage clothing but not necessarily digging to find the good stuff Ashley Williams owner of Mary Lou’s Closet does the shopping for you.

"I realized there was a community of plus-sized women who enjoyed vintage pieces as much as I did but there’s really not a lot of companies that cater to us. I used to visit my grandmother in Mississippi for the summer and I loved looking in her closet. So my company is named after her, to honor her,” the Mary Lou’s Closet owner explains.

Williams, with her affordable plus size fashion, is just one Houston business owner that will be featured in this weekend’s Virtual Marketplace.

"I created this platform to basically bring to the forefront conscious commerce but virtually", explains Arleita Myers who is a Houston teacher and also has a website building and business branding company called Seaux Savvy.

Myers put together what she calls the Cocoa Collective Exchange Virtual Marketplace, bringing 16 black, Houston small business owners together to help them stay afloat through the pandemic. They hope to have your support.

"You’re not giving back to some major corporate company who has millions and trillions of dollars in the bank. You’re giving back to homegrown businesses,” adds Myers. 

"So many people have put blood, sweat and tears into their personal businesses and they’ve been thriving all this time. Then to have this come and wipe so many businesses out, I just really hate to see and hear that,” says Ashley Jones Owner of The Element Of Design company. The Interior Designer is doing electronic consultations and designs these days.

Gabrielle Gardiner owner of Veiled by Gabrielle knows all about having to adapt to keep her bridal assistance business alive.

"I look at it like hey it’s a step back for a comeback. I got to keep pushing. I have to learn how to adjust," Gardiner said.

“We felt like coming together as a collective we’d be able to put together an event where we can help each other during this time,” says Williams.

“If you love Houston like you say you do then you should want to come out and support,” Myers adds.

The Virtual Marketplace, complete with live music, will be Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Most of the businesses featured are owned by women. The ladies are Houston wives and moms and hope to continue to be business owners after the COVID-19 crisis has passed.

You can shop the event and support these local small businesses by going to cocoacollectiveexchange.com.

Just register on the website so you can receive a password to enter the free, secure, and private shopping experience.