New online directory highlights Maine black-owned businesses and services
A new website and Instagram page is helping direct people to black-owned businesses and services in Maine.
The website, BlackOwnedMaine.com, offers a directory of shops, restaurants, artists, musicians, churches, fitness studios, catering services, and much more in Maine that are all at least 50% black-owned.
In less than two weeks, the site had already reached more than 100,000 people and attracted more than 8,000 followers on Instagram.
"The reason this whole thing blew up, basically overnight, is because there was a gigantic void. There was an actual need that has existed for years," said co-creator Genius Black.
Black and fellow creator Rose say they were inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement.
"It's 2020. We can be real about issues of race," Black said. "And in reality, you should vote with your dollars. Make your own decision about what you vote with. But, if you decide you want to act out a life that is anti-racist, spending money with black businesses is not something you should be afraid of."
Black graduated from Bowdoin College in Brunswick and decided to stay in Maine after school.
"For me, staying here has been interesting, has been challenging, has been amazing in a lot of ways. It hasn't always been good. It hasn't always been fair. I'm being honest," Black said.
The website is more than a directory. The creators say they want to help create and promote change, starting by lifting up the community to help make it better.
"We want to include everyone that we can," Rose said. "Yes, the directory is specifically to highlight black-owned businesses, but we want to involve the community as a whole. And this is really a way for us to do our part to help Maine's economy."
Both customers and owners can submit a request to have a business included in the directory. There is no cost to be listed. Submit the request at BlackOwnedMaine.com.
As of Friday morning, there were more than 150 listings and new search options were added on Thursday.