For the next two weeks, digital billboards around the Twin Cities metro area will regularly flash the pictures and names of five local businesses owned by Black women.
In honor of Black Business Month in August, broadcaster/podcaster Sheletta Brundidge, herself the owner of the small business podcasting platform SHElettaMakesMeLaugh.com, is making the billboard ads available through Clear Channel Outdoor.
Her company created the graphics and photography in the advertising sponsorship and is also one of the businesses featured in the billboards.
“I know some of these women well and some I have admired from afar. Black women get only 2 percent of the available funding for small businesses. It’s hard out here, I know it,” Brundidge said. “I want to support and invest in Black women business owners in Minnesota and encourage others to do the same.”
On the morning that the billboards debuted, several of the female entrepreneurs whose businesses are featured in the campaign joined Brundidge, gathering in front of US Bank Stadium to get their first view. Standing at the corner of S. 6th Street and Chicago Avenue, the group emitted whoops, screams, and cheers and exchanged delighted high-fives as their larger-than-life images appeared on a billboard atop a building across the street.
“It’s amazing to get a boost like this, especially as a new business,” said Sylvia Williams who, along with business partner Liza Maya, founded Soul Grain Granola in May of 2022.
Their healthy, shelf-stable snack, with six varieties including flavors like sweet potato casserole and banana pudding, is now available at several local stores and online.
“This exposure for our brand will help people become more aware of what we’re doing and give Soul Grain a try,” added Maya. “Sheletta is so good at recognizing minority-owned businesses like ours.”
The billboards featuring the Black women entrepreneurs will be flashing their rotating promotional messages for the next two weeks.
That timing couldn’t be better for Tameka Jones, who owns Lip Esteem, a storefront on Selby Avenue in St Paul that sells her plant-based lipsticks and lip care products.
“I am going to have a booth at the State Fair—Suite 270 in the Grandstand, to be exact,” Jones said. “I’m hoping people will see what we stand for and that will spark an interest in my line.”
Jones audibly gasped when she got her first glimpse of her billboard, which features a photo of her surrounded by a multi-racial group of customers.
“My motto is, unity in the community. My business is Black-owned but my products are for everyone,” Jones said. “I’ve dreamed about a billboard but it’s so hard to get revenue for something like this. To be gifted with it is really a blessing.”
Besides, Soul Grain Granola and Lip Esteem, the other billboards will feature -De’Vonna Pittman of Nature’s Syrup hair and body products; Roseline Friedrich of Roseline’s Place candles and gifts in Minneapolis; and Chaz Sandife of Lakeview Terrace Farmer’s Market in Robbinsdale.