5 Black-led Kickstarters that deserve your money

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The fight for racial equality must be heard.

Amplify

is our series devoted to raising awareness, spotlighting issues, and taking action.


Millions of Americans have answered the call to support small businesses in the wake of pandemic-related unprecedented closings, delayed shipping, and discouragement of in-person shopping and dining. Black-owned small businesses were hit particularly hard, but this isn’t the first time they’ve experienced stacked odds when it comes to entrepreneurial endeavors.

The systemic racial wealth gap doesn’t only describe the heavily mismatched salaries between Black employees and their white counterparts, or the huge disparity in family wealth that comes from centuries of oppression. It also refers to the disproportionate difficulties the Black community faces when it comes receiving loans needed to cover anything from marketing consultations to production costs. A 2017 report from the US Federal Reserve found that Black-owned firms are twice as likely to be turned down for a loan compared to white-owned firms.

SEE ALSO: How to find and support Black-owned businesses — and why it’s important

Crowdfunding is a community-based opportunity for new businesses to get the startup funds they need (as well as a genius way to spread the word about a new venture). As of Oct. 2019, nearly 17 million people have pledged monetary support toward Kickstarter projects, with the average donation being $25. (While you’ll get your money back if the project doesn’t reach its funding goal by the end date, Kickstarters don’t always pan out even if they do achieve funding. But we think these ideas are promising.) 

Children’s author Dr. Doresa Jennings, one of the campaign leaders we’ve highlighted below, covered her love for the Kickstarter community in a video on her campaign’s page:

“The number one reason why I launch here on Kickstarter is because of the Kickstarter community — the opportunity to interact with people who are absolutely dedicated to helping dreams come to fruition.

I also love Kickstarter because we’re able to launch these books in a way that can be marketed because of your support. They can get into indie book stores and Black-owned bookstores because of your support. That would not be able to happen any other way.”

Here are five of our current favorite Black-led Kickstarter campaigns going on now: 

The STEAM Chasers Books on Black American STEM Innovators

5 Black-led Kickstarters that deserve your money

Image: the steam chasers

Jennings, an award-winning middle-grade fiction author, uses her teaching expertise combined with her experience working with organizations like NASA to take middle school readers on a journey through the history of Black innovations.

The Boundless Blackprint is the third book in the STEAM Chasers series. (STEAM stands for “Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math”) After We Made That and The Blackness of Space, book number three focuses infrastructure: Black architects, builders, civil engineers, designers, surveyors, and other innovators. The Boundless Blackprint focuses on “the areas in our world that were designed, created, settled, or inhabited by Black Americans that helped to give those spaces unique vibes, feels, and soul that has been felt for over 100 years.”

This campaign has already more than met its monetary goal, but is still open for more pledges until July 31. According to the campaign, backers can pledge $10 to get the ebook, $20 to get an e-book of the entire series, $25 to get a softcover copy, or $50 to get softcover copies of all three books.

HellaBlack — A best-in-class, curated, ecommerce marketplace for Black-owned enthusiasts

5 Black-led Kickstarters that deserve your money

Image: hellablack

Mashable’s Chloe Bryan writes in her spotlight on the newest tool for shoppers seeking out Black-owned businesses: 

HellaBlack, a new ecommerce platform launching in August, aims to provide a sleek one-stop shop to find products from Black brands, including apparel, beauty, homewares, kids’ products, and more. (It’s not affiliated with the podcast of the same name.) On the website, sellers will be able to use a long list of built-in tools — including blog templates, customizable virtual “mini-stores,” and a streamlined customer-vendor messaging system — to share their brands’ stories and move their products. The ultimate goal, according to the company’s Kickstarter, is to “build Black wealth.”

The campaign has been awarded a “Projects we love” stamp by Kickstarter.

HellaBlack’s co-founders plan to launch the site sometime in August 2020 and, if its $50,000 goal is met, funds will be used to scale and meet marketing goals. As of July 10, the campaign is 23% funded and will be open to backers until August 14. Vendors interested in joining the platform can fill out a form on the HellaBlack website.

The Divine Mother tarot deck — A Smith-Waite style tarot deck reimagined with Afro-Spiritual themes

5 Black-led Kickstarters that deserve your money

Image: black magic xpressions

A magical reconceptualization of the classic Waite-Smith deck structure, the Divine Mother deck features incredible celestial, high-color artwork depicting themes of Afro Spiritualism, tribal Africa, and the LGBTQ community. As stated by the description on Kickstarter, “This Project is a love letter to the entire African Diaspora and anyone seeking to add a powerful African/African-American themed divination tool to their collection.” 

The campaign has been given Kickstarter’s “Projects we love” stamp and is the result of an artistic collaboration between Jeremy Frazier and Augustus Brown Jr. 

According to this campaign, pledging $75 will get you a pre-order for The Divine Mother tarot deck, which, if the campaign is funded, is planned for release in October 2020. As of July 10, the campaign is 44% funded and will be open to backers until August 14.

Amore Congelato — Plant-based gelato that’s sweetened with dates instead of sugar

5 Black-led Kickstarters that deserve your money

Image: amore congelato

The market for sustainable, plant-based desserts has grown exponentially in the past few years and the surge is expected to continue. Thereasa Black, a single mother and Navy veteran, is attempting to bring her Instagram-worthy vegan gelato cones to more people in the U.S with a new pasteurizer and cheaper shipping methods.

Amore Congelato (“frozen love” in Italian) is made with oat milk rather than cow milk, sweetened with dates rather than cane sugar, and comes in flavors like Ginger Berry Mango Sorbet and Salted Caramel Pretzel Crunch. Each container features statistics about social injustice.

The campaign says that, if it’s fully funded, pledging $15 will get you one pint to pick up from Amore Congelato’s location in Arlington, VA, while pledging $64 will get you four prints of your choice shipped in Sept. 2020. As of July 10, the campaign is 20% funded and will be open to backers until July 24.

Resiliency Magazine — A platform that will serve as knowledge, inspiration, and empowerment for Black and Brown voices

5 Black-led Kickstarters that deserve your money

Image: resiliency magazine

Equal representation in mainstream beauty, art, and business spaces is an ongoing battle. The creators of Resiliency Magazine want to move the needle with a zine devoted to uplifting Black voices and covering what the typical checkout line selection might not.

Issues will cover health and wellness topics such as the way unhealthy diet options are dispersed through low-income neighborhoods, offer entrepreneurial advice for Black business owners or aspiring business owners, and provide beauty and skincare expertise specifically for Black skin and hair. The campaign has received Kickstarter’s “Projects we love” stamp.

Money raised will go toward digital marketing, printing and publishing, and producing digital content. According to the campaign, pledging $50 will get you a digital version of the very first issue in Sept. 2020 and pledging $150 will get you both a digital version and a hard copy. As of July 10, the campaign is 9% funded and is open to backers until August 28.

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