Black Owned Sheffield

Providing a Platform: interview with owners of Black Owned Sheffield

Ahead of their second expo event this month, a special festive pop-up at Events Central on Fargate, we spoke to Black Owned Sheffield co-founders Asha and Rakaia about how their platform has grown and made a positive difference for many since launching in 2020.

How did Black Owned Sheffield start out?
A: We started it after the George Floyd murder, when there were all the protests going on. We just decided to ask ourselves, “What can we do to help the Black community in general?”
R: To elevate it to something that’s more than just protests because, obviously, you can only do so much, and we saw communities come together – not just the Black community – as people who wanted to help, asking “How can we help? What can we do?” So, we thought we’d help to elevate other people that have Black-owned businesses because they do struggle a lot. We thought it would be the perfect idea to provide a platform for free.
A: With it being such a worldwide thing, we wanted to do something smaller to help our immediate community.

Tell us about what you guys have been up to recently?
R: We run the Instagram and Facebook platforms, so we contact businesses and businesses contact us, and then we post them on our platform for free with images and a description of their business. We also help them network with other businesses within Sheffield; we post any events that are going on, any networking opportunities for other people within Sheffield. And then we started doing events, our first being a pop-up store at Events Central on Fargate showcasing Black businesses. We’ve got another one coming up at Christmas on 17th and 18th December in the same location.

What are the main goals for the future?
A: We just want to keep doing what we’re doing, encouraging the younger generation to feel confident that they can start businesses and will be supported. We will try and help in any way possible. Even if it’s not exactly a business, they can get help with employment and education – anything really. When we were younger we would’ve loved to have people there, giving us a little push. We’ve struggled with confidence, we’ve wanted to do things and had so many ideas, but when you don’t have that confidence, you either think you’re not good enough or people won’t buy from you. We want to say: “You can do it, and there’s a community for people to network with here.”
R: We also want to try and work with people to provide them with grants for their businesses, so they can develop further and reach customers out of Sheffield.

We want to say: “You can do it, and there’s a community for people to network with here.”

What is the most enjoyable part of working at BOS for you?
A: When we first started our page, we used to do this thing where someone would message us and we’d look at their followers and then post it, go back on it, and realise – “Oh my God, they’ve gained 30 followers!” Even something small like that feels great.
R: When we did our event we were panicking, thinking the night before that no one was going to turn up. Because it was 11am to 7pm, we thought it was too long to be open. Turns out it was busy all day, and people kept coming up to us saying “this is amazing!” and we were so overwhelmed. I think how it makes people feel, hearing them saying it feels nice walking down Fargate and being able to buy from businesses that can actually help their hair, help their skin. We feel like we’re doing things to help people and that people really appreciate it – it’s a great feeling.

Black Owned Sheffield’s Festive Market takes place 17th Dec at Events Central, Fargate.

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