Photo courtesy of Power Box
Memphian Tami Sawyer launched Power Box on August 18th.
Power Box brings together black-owned businesses and consumers. Each week, Power Box profiles businesses, offering giveaways of products from those businesses. The businesses then have a deal code for the month for merchandise from their websites.
These businesses offer everything from children’s books and handbags to catering services and dental care. Mo’s Bows is one of the businesses included.
Products from Talley & Twine, one of Power Box's featured businesses.
Sawyer, who is a social activist, says she got the idea last fall, when Darren Wilson was not indicted in the shooting death of Michael Brown. It was two days before Thanksgiving and social media erupted, with many urging a boycott of Black Friday.
Sawyer recalls some of the Tweets from that day. The basic message, she says, was “Our lives don’t matter. Why should we spend our money?” But Sawyer had a thought, tweeting out that rather than boycotting, they should “buy black on Black Friday.”
She began posting black-owned businesses on Instagram, and she got a lot of response. She put up a post on her website on how to buy black for Christmas.
Sawyer decided to take the idea further and launched a Kickstarter campaign for Power Box last spring. The goal was made in two weeks with additional funds collected. She then spent four months building the site, gathering up businesses to include, and writing up profiles. She enlisted the local black-owned company Cheers Creative to create the site.
Power Box now has nearly 800 participating businesses. Sawyer says she has somewhere between 400 and 500 other businesses in her queue to check out.
Lisa Price with her hair-care line, Carol’s Daughter, another Power Box featured business.
Sawyer has a three-point criteria for picking businesses. First, they must have a website; second, the sites must have stock and not just one or two items; and third, they must be customer-friendly.
That last item is particularly important to Sawyer as one of the goals of Power Box is to destroy the stereotype of black-owned businesses not being customer-friendly. “You have to prove it’s not true,” she says.
Sawyer says the name of Power Box was very deliberate. She latched onto the idea of including “power” early on, but the box came later. As she explains “power box” has meaning. “It’s the transformer. It’s the light in everybody’s head.”
She says of Power Box, “This is a way to have a collective impact. For me, this is true social activism.”