As nationwide protests against the killing of black Americans by police continue, Inc. has asked black business leaders in or near hot zones to tell us what they are experiencing.
Melissa Taylor opened her Minneapolis hair salon, the Beauty Lounge, in 2011 as a place where people from all cultures could feel welcome. Last year, the company hit $250,000 in sales, a figure Taylor expects to increase by 50 percent in 2020. The six-employee business, which offers services such as haircuts, color treatments, and manicures, stands just a mile and a half from where George Floyd was killed by police officers on May 25.
Taylor had planned to reopen the salon on June 8 after nearly three months--and even had some appointments on the schedule--but postponed because of the protests in the city. Protecting her community is a bigger priority than earning a profit right now, she says. Taylor talks about her decision to keep her business closed and how she's helping the neighborhood recover. --As told to Emily Canal
Our governor said that some people could go back to work on June 1. People were excited to start earning an income again. But then this happened. It's really hard seeing this level of devastation. It's not only that somebody got murdered by the police, but also the impact it's having on so many people.
People's entire livelihoods are closed. Gas stations are closed. Grocery stores are closed. There were so many small businesses that were completely destroyed. So many minority-owned businesses were completely destroyed. It looks like a war zone.
On May 28, our landlord hired overnight security for our building. On May 30, they boarded it up to protect from any riots or looters. Thus far, it hasn't been damaged.
I'd be fired up if someone looted my store, but I have insurance. It can all be replaced. But I know that's not the case for everybody. If I need to stay in a car and watch the store all night, I'll do that, too.
I'm not scared of anybody or anything, but it does make me feel sad. We're a place where people feel comfortable. That was already taken away because of Covid-19, and it's being taken away again.
I pushed the reopening back, this time to June 15. If anything happens, I can be flexible and push it back again. Of course, money is important. But people's safety and their mental health are more important to me than money.
There are a few customers who have said they haven't had their hair done since February, and I get it, but it's not important. If you don't understand that, we might not be the right place for you.
The majority of people have been supportive. One client came to the salon to help me clean. Another client has a business that organized an essential supplies donation, so we're going to distribute supplies at the salon. I'm also trying to help people understand what allyship looks like. And show them what we, as a community, have to do to make permanent shifts to create better spaces for people of color.
I've been protesting. I'm doing a food drive. I'm going to the grocery store to buy items to donate to people. I'm showing up however I can.
My daughter is even helping out to clean the streets after protests. She's 6 and needs to see that it might not impact her directly, but you can still make a difference in somebody's life. She's starting to get it.
- Joah Spearman, founder of Austin-based travel guide Localeur, on the role of virtue signaling.
- Kim Prince, owner of Hotville Chicken, a restaurant in South Central L.A., on why, despite widespread protests, she chose to not board up but to stay open.
- Brad Keiller, owner of San Diego's Nomad Donuts, with family from South Africa, on hopes that the U.S. is in a watershed moment.
- Tomme Beevas, operator of the Minneapolis Pimento Jamaican Kitchen restaurants, on putting values before profits.
- Dionte' Johnson's Store Was Looted, yet He Turned It Into Something Positive.