Danielle Deavens ’16 was Christmas shopping for her family in 2016 with one condition in mind — the gifts must all be from Black-owned businesses. However, Deavens encountered difficulty finding Black-owned businesses to support. Four years later, Deavens and her college sweetheart Doug Spencer ’16 created a solution to this problem by co-founding Bold Xchange, an online retailer that offers an efficient way to discover and shop from a variety of Black-owned products with guaranteed quick shipping.
Unsatisfied with their daily routine and corporate professions, Spencer and Deavens decided to leave their careers behind to embark on an entrepreneurship journey to create Bold Xchange. Their primary goal is to provide a platform to conveniently shop from Black-owned businesses.
“It’s about knowing that there are so many great Black-owned businesses out there that deserve attention that deserve dollars, not because they’re Black-owned but because they’re great products, and they have amazing backstories,” Deavens said.
Once they had a vision for their company, Deavens and Spencer began researching and organizing what the launch the company would look like.
“We spent a lot of time doing research, making sure that we weren’t making assumptions about there being a gap in the market and a need from the business perspective,” Deavens said. “Fast forward to summer 2018, right before Fourth of July, we launched version one of Bold Xchange which is kind of an Etsy-like marketplace for Black-owned apparel and accessories.”
They search for Black-owned companies to partner with and have an application process on their website for Black entrepreneurs to fill out who are interested in working with Bold Xchange. Deavens said she goes to the warehouse daily to fulfill all the orders in a timely manner so customers can receive their orders within three business days.
The website showcases a range of products from beauty and hair care to coffee and pancake mix. Elon professor of cinema and television arts Naeemah Clark, who was Deavens’ honors thesis mentor and a customer of Bold Xchange, said the online retailer sells quality items and is an efficient way to buy Black.
“Honey was the first thing I bought, and I sent it to my mom for Mother’s Day. My mom really liked it. I buy a lot of presents on the site,” Clark said. “It’s so easy to go on the site and know that something will be there in a couple days.”
Spencer and Deavens also launched a YouTube channel where they review Black-owned products. According to the website, they reviewed more than 50 Black-owned brands in 2019.
Creating awareness for Black-owned business
Deavens and Spencer created Bold Xchange with the hopes of bringing awareness to the disparities Black-owned businesses face.
“We consider ourselves a social impact business because there is a vast disparity between the state of Black entrepreneurship and that of white entrepreneurship and even other minority groups,” Deavens said. “Specifically, there’s a huge gap between Black and white-owned businesses.”
Black-owned businesses have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic. A report by the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that 41% of Black-owned businesses went out of business during the pandemic compared to 17% of white-owned businesses.
Clark, who is the co-author of the textbook Diversity in U.S. Media, talked about the importance of supporting entrepreneurs and Black-owned businesses.
“I think it’s just so important to support entrepreneurship. Danielle and Doug are entrepreneurs, but they’re also supporting entrepreneurs on their site,” Clark said. “I hope in my little way to support young entrepreneurs of color is as much as I can.”
Deavens said in the future she hopes to see the company continue to grow and raise awareness for Black-owned businesses.
“I think Bold Xchange will become synonymous with buying Black,” Deavens said, “but more importantly, will change the way people support Black-owned businesses and view Black entrepreneurship.”