Juneteenth - A Message from Undeniable Boutique Owner Alicia Russman
Posted on June 19 2020
As the owner of a small, independently owned/operated clothing boutique in Northern Virginia, it’s been difficult to articulate my sentiments regarding the long-overdue heightened awareness surrounding racial inequality in America. As a professional brand strategist, I’ve consulted with my clients on their messaging strategies and actions. Why haven’t I been able to develop my own?
I keep coming back to the fact that I am angry. Attempting to craft your own thoughtful and sensitive message when you’re enraged is not easy.
I am saddened by the divide in our country and the resulting inability for positive changes to be made. I am infuriated that Black Americans still live in perpetual fear for their lives at the hands of those who are entrusted to protect and serve. I’m incensed that basic human rights are up for political debate.
While facing these emotions, I've considered what I’m doing to make a difference. Beyond using my voice, how can I leverage my business to better support the Black community?
As a retailer, my first instinct was to invest in more Black designers and artists. It was at that point I realized Black designers are grossly underrepresented in the contemporary fashion market. I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never noticed this while attending buying shows. Thankfully, organizations that run wholesale platforms also have stepped up and are proactively bringing more visibility to Black-owned businesses.
I am also seeking a path to support young Black fashion designers with their education. Upon researching this further, I've learned very few historically Black educational institutions have fashion design programs. I plan to identify and collaborate with a local university to launch or participate in a scholarship program benefitting minority students.
Further, I have submitted an application to participate in a campaign with LiveYourDream.org and launched a Facebook Fundraiser to assist with the organization's mission of providing women and girls with access to the education and training they need to achieve economic empowerment.
These initiatives feel like small contributions to a much larger problem but I wholeheartedly believe we all have a role to play in influencing positive change for our communities and country.
I look forward to sharing more updates on my progress and celebrating more wins for humanity in the near future.
#turningangerintoaction #freedomfromhate #equality