Meet Emma Peralta: The Founder of United Black Businesses
Photo Credit: Thomas Claude Photography
Within the last year supporting black-owned businesses gained recognition for several different reasons. During the pandemic, it became noticeable that the majority of black-owned businesses were hit the hardest and struggled to stay afloat compared to their counterparts. As a culture, we soon realized that our money can make a difference, and pouring it back into our community was our only goal. Emma Peralta, the founder of United Black Businesses, had a personal mission to showcase, celebrate, and uplift the talents of black-owned businesses and rebuild our communities. She created a directory full of black-owned business that provides resources for almost every industry you can think of. On Saturday, April 24, United Black Businesses partnered with Andrea-Rachel, the founder of “DoYouTF?!” to host Family Day in support of Autism Awareness Month. The afternoon was full of fun and excitement for everyone that came out. Artist and musician Dane Scozzari had the crowd participating in a sing-a-long while he played guitar. Dezi Shepperd, a best-selling author, took the time out and did an amazing read-aloud with her most recent children’s books. The event was also filled with sponsors such as Teadipity, Empowerment Apparel 531, Brooklyn Tea, and Trees of the Sea, and a fitness package from Coach Capers Fitness. Overall, the afternoon was filled with love and support for the Autism community with a promising hope that more events will follow in the future.
Introduce yourself and tell us about your business?
My name is Emma and I’m the founder of united Black Businesses also known as UB Businesses or just simply UBB. Basically, I am trying to unite the community around black businesses and have them support each other.
When the tragic death of George Floyd happened we were all quarantined. I wanted to do more but I knew that going out and protesting wasn’t an option for me because I had my boys and I didn’t want to put them at risk. So I started to think about what other things that I could do. The rioting and looting I know probably wasn’t the best approach but I understood where everyone was coming from. They were trying to hurt businesses in their pockets and let people know we are strong and united when we need to be. I figured another way to do it was to unite the businesses because money is in the dollars. Where we spend our money matters. We don’t think so but it really does because if we take our money and we only spend it in our community then a lot of other businesses are losing out. I started off by saying I, myself just want to support black businesses but I didn’t know which businesses were black-owned or not. So then I started to look up and do research. I compiled a list with two of my friends because at the time we had a lot of time on our hands. We place several businesses into different categories and put all the information that you may need. We soon realized that people weren’t using it and part of it was the work was tedious; it wasn’t an app where you can type in a category, look something up, and a bunch of resources comes up. We didn’t have the money and I didn’t know anyone who develops apps but at least we still did it our way and that’s a start for us. Then we started to interview businesses that I do know and built relationships with people them so others can get to know the owners and the faces behind their business. We wanted others to understand how important it is to support each other. We don’t think it makes a difference but when you listen to business owners you can tell how important it is to them. During my interviews, I started to get to know them more and I heard all the roadblocks that are in the way. These were some of the things that I knew I could help with. So I started to provide my services for free and anything that I could help them with I would. Then it became a space of bartering services because one person might need this and someone else knew how to do it and vice versa.
What are you currently working on?
I started to really work hands-on with businesses. Right now I’m at Exclusive Cornerstone Café and I help with anything that is needed. This actually opened during the pandemic. I knew that this was being put together maybe like August-September. This was when it was already purchased and they were doing construction. I was helping a business up the block, a restaurant, and one of the partners there said, “oh let me introduce you to this guy because he owns a couple of businesses and he’s trying to open up a coffee shop.” He needed my help with the Instagram page and I was like yeah I can do that. So I started there then it went to me giving some ideas and by then I just wanted to come help. We were doing a lot of work and when I came in, it was a nice space but we needed to beautify it because people come in with their eyes. Once they see something beautiful they want to come in then it will be your job to keep them hooked with quality products. My friend, who is a muralist and artist, I told her look I think you can do this. She started working on it and now we have a mural. So there’s that connected people thing. I thought it would be great that the coffee shop be used for exclusive events featuring black-owned businesses.
Mural created by Lily Beth Angeles at the Exclusive Cornerstone Cafe
What is one struggle that you have with having your own business?
I consider United Black Businesses to be my own business and the only struggle that I have had is people’s apprehensiveness. It seems like people have had bad experiences with people who say that they are coming to help and are looking to get something out of it other than helping. So the biggest thing I get is people not believing when I tell them everything I do is free and I get zero funding. The only funding that I get is from the job that I have now which is teaching. The reason I do it is because I never want my intentions to be misconstrued when money comes in between the situation. I had people say let me pay you and I’m like NO. If you want help you can give a donation. That has been my biggest issue convincing people to let me help them.
Another thing is because of that reason when I reach out to businesses they don’t respond. I find myself making relationships and trying to get an introduction because I am here just to help and that’s what people need help. We don’t have the kind of money that other communities have to get that kind of help that we need for marketing. On the flip side what has surprised me is that so many people have been very supportive in many different ways. It revived the faith that I have in humanity. With this event, I just reached out to people and told them I am collaborating with “DoYouTF?!” on an Autism Awareness event and wanted to know if they would like to sponsor the event with a giveaway. I got some amazing responses and they said yes so we were able to help friends and families in my community with some amazing gifts.
What is one thing you are proud of since you have started United Black Businesses?
I am proud of my first Community Lending Library structure. We have one in Drip BK, which is a black-owned business, and it’s filled with books by black and minority authors. I raised $700 on GoFundMe and I spent it to buy 2 more structures for the Community Lending Library. I am really excited about this project.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
My goal is to help as many businesses as possible. So I want to see Exclusive Cornerstone Café self-sustaining. Meaning I’ve done everything that I could do to make it poppin. When I came here we were at the height of the pandemic so I want to see the effect it has on the community for the owners and just us as a people. I want our people to thrive. I want to see us doing well and in a position where we are supporting each other so strongly that it becomes second nature.
We all need people in this world that is willing to give a hand and I am so happy that United Black Businesses is here to do just that.
To connect with United Black Businesses you can find them on IG: @ubbusinesses
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Until next post… Coach Tay