When I was growing up I was taught the importance of supporting black businesses/small businesses. Whether it was from my parents and Kwanzaa or just being a part of the social justice movement I understand that black businesses are a necessary part of a growing community.
But the dream is different from reality. When I talk to black people about black businesses they usually say that the service is bad, expensive products, and lack of marketing. Those stereotypes have made it hard for black businesses to be successful when we know that with the right amount of support we can see growth.
At San Francisco State University we had a soul food restaurant. At first people love it but the complaining started: the food was dry, it was fattening, wasn’t good enough. There was issues with how the school treated them but at the end of the day African-Americans didn’t create the situation pleasant to fight for them. We think success comes over night but it doesn’t. Chervon, Kaiser, etc. were small at one time and make mistakes like small businesses do. But they preserve because people saw their future and now their future is bright.
I support because I see black business as one of the many ways a community could be better. Remember when Eastmont mall was happening? Or M&B Center? How you wanted to go to the East or Broadway? Thinking about those neighborhoods now you think about death, robbery, guns, drugs. I wish I could see unique businesses like an Oaklandish, Shoe Groupie, and Henri Hubert in areas that look like the Walking Dead. Go to the MacArthur between 73rd and Castlemont High School and see what I am talking about: blight, empty lots with weeds, etc.
When I start having jobs and making money (not alot but enough to afford stuff) I would support a black business. Verse Show in downtown Oakland was dope. Brought t-shirts, shoes, etc. Unfortunately it got replaced by the “PopHood” Store that has been successful. After that store I was running the lake and saw a store that was unique. It was called Henri Hubert. I like the store and have been going ever since. She taught me the importance of marketing businesses.
When I met Enitan Bereola and his Bereolaesque I knew that I had to film him inside Henri Hubert and talk about the store. Because behind a gentleman is a well groomed shave. I think that has helped me talk to businesses about how to connect to their audiences because with the boom of internet, you could find a person who is an expert in your field to talk about your store/ services.
After many years from that experience I decided from 2012 to film my friend/ frat brother/ brother Shahad Wright and homie Theodore White to explore this theme of educated gentleman within fashion, life, and family. I keep working with her because I feel like these stores should be in black communities as we see men/women dress in our community like they have been living on the prison yard for too long.
Unfortunately because of lack of careers in our community it is hard for a store like Henri Hubert to survive. When people have menial jobs chances are people don’t dress ‘square’ because the employers/ community doesn’t care about what the person look like outside of his job. If you are a professional you want to look professional all the time. I know we live in the area of being non-judgemental and supporting ‘black man’ but standards have to be kept in order for our young brothers and sisters to see there is reason to dress like a gentleman. So the store is at 845 Market St. 3rd Floor at the Westfield Mall in San Francisco, the only African-American run store in the mall.
It will now be in April with the date to be announced. I want you to know that I have been working hard to make sure that there will African-American males and male in general show up to have in-depth conversations and also see men and women to come together for some fun. I do apologize for this and I will make sure I will do everything I can to make sure you have a fun experience.