The side hustle surge: how Black British women continue to turn their passions into businesses

Written by Leah Sinclair

Research commissioned by eBay UK has discovered that the group most likely to start side businesses are Black British women  and we spoke to three business owners about how they do it.

Did you know that businesses run by entrepreneurs from Black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds contribute as much as £25 billion to the UK economy? 

This figure, amounting to the economic equivalent produced by Greater Manchester, was published in the 2018 report Unlocking Opportunity, which discovered how much Black-owned and led businesses contribute to the economy.

And to take that a step further, eBay UK recently discovered that the group most likely to start their own side businesses are Black UK women – 76% more likely than any other community. 

These statistics highlight the business savvy of Black Britons and particularly how Black British women continue to combine their passions with creating new business opportunities, helping them to thrive amid the cost of living crisis thanks to the extra income coming in.

From stationery to haircare brands, we spoke to three Black British women who started their businesses before and during the cost of living crisis to find out how they’re flourishing even amid the challenging times we’re currently facing.

Vera-Jayne Nwajiaku, founder of NonyelumVee

“In May 2021 I launched NonyelumVee, a gift shop that has a little something for everyone.Trying to juggle a young family, elderly parents and the demands of a corporate career all came to a head one day, and I decided to take the opportunity to work part-time. Working part-time not only gave me time with my family but also time to think about what I wanted to do for myself. Amid the cost of living crisis, I’ve found customers really want value for money, and while it’s slowed demand for trivial items, it’s increased the need for other products.

“Entrepreneurship is something that I feel is embedded in our DNA as Black women. I have memories as a child of watching my mum and aunties running their little beauty businesses (Avon, Fashion Fair, Mary Kay, Tupperware), buying and selling to family and friends while holding down a full-time job.

“Also, we don’t have the same access to funding and business support as our white counterparts, so we have had to invest in our own business, in some cases remortgaging properties. Black women have been phenomenal at turning a passion into something thatbenefits their families and communities.”  

Selina Jones, founder of Bloomin Boutique

“I officially launched my homeware brand Bloomin Boutique in 2022, a brand that prides itself on sustainability and quality products at affordable prices. I run the business alongside my full-time job, which definitely makes me drill down and be clear on what’s important, from what can I outsource to what I need to take care of myself and being clear on my values.

“As a Black woman, I’ve grown up seeing and reading about entrepreneurs including Annie Malone, Madam CJWalker, Rihanna and Oprah. And throughout history, regardless of the circumstances, we’ve always been entrepreneurs and it’s something that I feel has always been within us as Black women.

“Running my own businesses while working full time has certainly made me busier, but I recognise it is a marathon and not a sprint.Knowing what works for you is key.”

Joanne Carmelita, founder of Naturalis

“I founded Naturalis Hair and Skin products in 2020, during the first year of the pandemic, but my passion for natural hair and skincare goes back to when I was a teenager, when it was hard to find good affordable hair stylists alongside trying to find skin and hair products that actually worked.

“When I became a mother, I became more health conscious and there were no natural cosmetic products to be found. I began to research more into the best products for hair and skin care. I looked further into the ingredients and I was shocked at the toxic, unnatural chemicals well-known companies were using.

“Launching my own business has reminded me how much representation matters. I think that there are a lot more role models in entrepreneurship than there were when I was younger, which encourages Black people to take risks and see the value in it. There is also a movement in the Black community to create generational wealth – make something of our own and go where we are valued. This means not putting up with jobs that do not value us and using our skills for our passions.

“Naturalis has become such a huge passion and it has been so fulfilling to receive great feedback from customers and actually seeing my hard work start to pay off. This also keeps me motivated.It’s only up from here for us, and we still have so much to learn.”

Shop eBay UK’s Black in Bloom hub for Black-owned products and brands here

Images: Getty

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