Entrepreneur Michelle Dalzon on Amplifying Black Business Owners

The daughter of Haitian immigrants, Michelle Dalzon grew up watching her parents hustle as small business owners of a beauty supply store. 

The store was the first black-owned business in her family's Boston neighborhood, according to Dalzon. The success of their shop helped inspire other black-owned businesses to grow, she says.

Her childhood experiences laid the framework for theBOM, or The Black-Owned Market, which she developed in 2015 with about $20,000 from her savings account.
 
“I got the idea to shop or create a platform for black-owned brands,” Dalzon says. “There was no actual place to do that conveniently.”

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TheBOM solves that problem by creating a curated shopping experience for both shoppers and vendors. Think a colorful and vibrant flea market, but elevated.

Shoppers pay an entrance fee to shop theBOM and have access to an open bar and food, along with the chance to explore brands handpicked by Dalzon.
 
Likewise, the vendors – who Dalzon chooses based product’s quality and branding, along with the founder’s story – pay a flat rate to sell their goods at theBOM.
 
In exchange, they receive help promoting their brand, high-resolution photographs from the event that can be used in marketing materials, a new customer base, networking with their peers and customized booths or displays.
  
“Their products are just as good or better than what you would see at your local Duane Reade,” Dalzon says.

Although Dalzon has focused her efforts on pop-up events in New York, she will take her business on a nationwide tour to explore cities that could house theBOM permanently.She says Houston and Los Angeles are two cities that make sense to her at the moment, and she hopes to create find a permanent brick-and-mortar space in New York by 2020.

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She’s also working on exploring e-commerce beyond Instagram and aims to create a blog platform to serve as a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs, small business entrepreneurs, and people who want to learn about the state of black-owned business.
 
Since Donald Trump entered the Oval Office, Dalzon says there’s a heightened interest to shop Black; however, she sees theBOM as a franchise venture that will exist long after President Trump exits the White House.
 
She also called out the lack of centralized areas – beyond historically black neighborhoods like the U Street Corridor in Washington, D.C., and Harlem in New York City – in major cities for black business owners to flourish.

“It is mind-boggling to me: Every city you can shop with a Chinatown or find your Little Italy or Jewish community,” she says. “There’s no real identifiable community for black people. That’s my mission in life – the value that I’m providing.”

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- Amanda Eisenberg / She Spends Issue 39

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