Havas Media’s Rebecca Colon-Martins tells Dare! about the creation of the Black at Work Joy Market, an initiative which celebrates black owned American businesses.
The Joy Market, which supports black entrepreneurs through a digital marketplace, also amplifies their perspectives through a series of thought-provoking panel events hosted by Havas employees throughout the month of February.
Here, Rebecca, HR Generalist at Havas Media, explains the Joy Market and what the initiative means to black entrepreneurs and the black community across Havas Group.
Can you tell us about the Black at Work Joy Market and where the concept came from?
When we were planning this year’s Black History Month, we decided that the theme would be Black Joy. Given everything that has been going on in the world, and especially in 2020, with the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, social media has shined a light on the Black community but not in a positive, joyful way. We wanted to do something that would celebrate us, celebrate the community, and shed insight and positivity.
Throughout the past few years, Havas has been incredible at supporting small and black owned businesses and using its platform to amplify them. When we thought about this, and the message we wanted to communicate, the idea for the Black at Work Joy Market was born.
It’s been a very difficult year for small business owners, and we thought it would be amazing to use this month, where we mark Black at Work and Black History Month, to showcase and support the black owned businesses that we love. The Joy Market has two different elements; it is a marketplace where the network can support black owned businesses, but it’s also a weekly panel discussion with some of the featured business owners.
Tell us about the panels and some of the entrepreneurs involved!
To gather together these business owners, we first approached our network and asked people to let us know about black owned businesses they really loved in their cities. We were so grateful to have the support of Ashley Boone (Talent Management Associate, Havas Worldwide NY) and Briana Comerford (Specialist, Marketing and Communication, Havas Media Group) on this, they were both amazing! They connected with these entrepreneurs to include them in this initiative. We’re also so grateful for Kaelyn Harris-Vincent (Associate Managing Director at Arnold) who assured that we had all the proper designs and communication for the events!
We are in the middle of a month of panels right now, led and moderated by internal employees, which feature amazing black entrepreneurs in all different areas of business, for example, fashion, food, design and make-up! We’ve been hosting these panels for the network every Friday on Zoom, and it’s been an amazing opportunity to take in those perspectives and learn something about ourselves and others. It’s also been a fascinating insight into running a small business! I really enjoyed a panel discussion earlier this month which featured a designer called Logik – he offered a really interesting perspective about how quarantine pushed us to really see how we use our time, and how we can use it more mindfully!
What has been the reaction to the events and the marketplace?
It’s been really positive. It’s been amazing to see people buying from these business owners but also asking questions and taking something away from these panels. To know you are supporting black owned businesses is really amazing but to have the opportunity to ask questions and engage with entrepreneurs across a diverse range of industries is fantastic.
I have loved being a part of the events and connecting with the network in such a positive way. We are lucky we’ve had such amazing support from our leaders to build initiatives like this. I have always felt supported in Havas and it is amazing to know that leadership really cares about projects that really matter and make a difference like this.
How can we build on the Black at Work Joy Market?
These celebrations should not only be a month long, they need to just be part of our biology. Our team each has our own roles within the agency, but make time to work on projects like this, which our wonderful leaders give us the space to do. What I’ve learned from the planning process is the fact that everyone is really passionate and wants to be a part of progress. It’s been such a positive experience. Havas Group is so large and the opportunity to reach people is so much more expansive, which amplifies our impact. That’s amazing to be a part of!