We had the good fortune of connecting with Jamie Gray and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jamie, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
To be honest, there was very little thought on my part. When I knew that I wanted to create a space for my friends to be able to see which Black-owned companies I was supporting, I thought an Instagram page would suffice. But my best friend encouraged me to take it a step further and start a blog which would allow me to share why I chose to support those businesses and what I like about them. Once I saw that people were looking for Black businesses and needed help finding what they were looking for, I started thinking about Black Girl Buying a little less as just something for my friends and a little more as a business to put out into the world.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I created Black Girl Buying as a space to share my journey supporting Black-owned businesses in hopes that I would inspire someone else to do the same. Now, Black Girl Buying connects Black businesses and consumers. I share my personal experiences supporting Black-owned businesses to help individuals buy Black and provide services to Black businesses to help them connect with their target audience. I love hearing that people have found a new Black business that they love from a Black Girl Buying recommendation. Growing up, I heard a lot of reasons why people did not want to buy from Black-owned businesses, so being able to help debunk some of those stereotypes is really exciting for me. People can see the good quality, great customer service, and feasibility of supporting Black businesses in their everyday lives. I’m most proud of the fact that that is actually happening. People reach out to me to share that they have fallen in love with a Black business that I’ve shared, or to tell me that they’ve found a Black-owned business and they want to hear my thoughts on it. It is incredibly humbling and very affirming. Challenges are always part of life and business, and I have learned that mindset is key to how things will turn out. I think about a quote I have heard that goes something like “whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right”, and that is so true. I struggle more and see more stagnation in Black Girl Buying when I am clouded by my fear, doubts, and insecurities. Work and growth are less stressful when I am flexible, open, and confident. I often tell people that a positive experience begins with a positive attitude, and I am working every day to remember that for myself as well. That mindset is also really important in terms of supporting Black businesses. I have heard so many complaints about Black-owned businesses from people who have not bought Black in years. I have seen people hold small Black businesses to a higher standard than they hold large white corporations. I have seen people write off all Black-owned businesses because of a small problem at one. It is so important that we as consumers change the way we think about buying Black and supporting Black businesses. We should not expect lower quality and bad service. We should be gracious if a mistake is made. We should not only buy Black out of protest. We should interact with Black businesses in the same way we interact with any other business. These are some of the most important conversations that I can have through Black Girl Buying.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
We would definitely spend the week crisscrossing all over Metro Atlanta! There would be lots of food, lots of fun, and lots of buying Black. We would start the week on the Westside with breakfast at Atlanta Breakfast Club, lunch at Local Green Atlanta, and dinner at Slutty Vegan—all worth every minute you might have to wait. While we are over there, an appointment at Sweetroots to get our hair done is a must. The next day, we would have breakfast at Rosie’s Coffee Cafe and have lunch over coffee at Urban Grind. Then we would do a
great workout at one of the three Vibe Ride locations before dinner at
Mary Mac’s Tea Room. If we got a late night craving, we would head over to Sublime Doughnuts, which is open 24 hours. For the middle of the week, we would keep breakfast light with smoothies at Juiceheads ATL. Lunch would include coffee or wine at Buzz Coffee and Winehouse. We would definitely have to have a tea party at just add honey and maybe stop by Kupcakerie for cupcakes. We would finish the night off with dinner and drinks on the swings at Boogalou. The next day would start with a very cute breakfast at Le Petit Marche. Lunch and dinner would be at Tassili’s Raw Reality Cafe and Fin & Feathers, respectively. We would also make sure to go sip some wine on the purple patio at Purple Corkscrew Wine Shop & Tasting Room. Heading into the weekend, we would have a very healthy breakfast from Juice Me Too and lunch at The Sleepy Potato. By this time, a spa day at iwi fresh would be in order, followed by dinner and drinks at Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours and something sweet from First Batch Artisan Foods. Weekends are meant for brunch and one brunch would be at Nana’s Chicken-N-Waffles. The rest of the day would be full of shopping—Funky Flair Boutique, Herb’N Eden, and Medu Bookstore for sure. I would also love to try out a few new spots like For Keeps Books, Brave and Kind Books, and/or 44th and 3rd Bookseller because I’m a bookworm, and Sweet Stack Creamery because I have a very big sweet tooth. We would end the week with brunch at The Real Milk & Honey, yoga with Level3 Yoga, dinner on the rooftop patio at Tom, Dick & Hank, and treats from Endulge Cupcake Boutique and Jayida Ché Herbal Tea Spot because we deserve.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Although my dad passed before Black Girl Buying was conceived, I want to dedicate this shoutout to him because he always believed that I could do whatever I dreamed I could. I also want to thank my best friend and my roommate for both pushing me past what I envisioned for Black Girl Buying in the beginning. I also have the best mom and brother, along with some very special friends and family members, who support everything I do—reading every email, liking every post, and sharing with anyone who will listen. I also have to acknowledge my mentor, who helped me think more intentionally about Black Girl Buying, as well as my graphic designers and my editor, who make sure that Black Girl Buying is polished and presentable.
Titilayo Joy Funso
Nominate someone: ShoutoutAtlanta is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.