With the culmination of Black History Month and Women’s History Month underway, these back-to-back celebrations of Black culture and women are very special to me.
As an Afro-Latina business woman, I’m so grateful for the Black women before me who have paved the way for people like me to succeed.
Each spring, we are reminded of the contributions that my communities make to our culture and society, and we are inspired to show our appreciation and support.
As a small business owner, I have seen firsthand and can say with confidence that these celebrations drive valuable support for Black and woman-owned small businesses.
This year especially, I’ve seen increased support for Black business owners, who have been struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic. There’s no telling how quickly life will return to normal, and with so much economic uncertainty, it is important that we continue to support and uplift Black-owned businesses, woman-owned businesses, and Black woman-owned businesses beyond these months of recognition.
I never intended to start a small business.
Back in 1996, I was baking brownies as a thank you gift for a friend, and after a glowing review of my recipe, I decided to start selling brownies out of my apartment.
Soon after, I launched my website and Luv’s Brownies, the first online bakery, focused on mail and delivery orders, was born. Everything was going so well that in 2019 I decided to take a new step and open up a dessert truck.
Now, celebrating my 25th anniversary in business with Luv’s Brownies, I finally launched my dessert truck this year with a new line of products (fresh baked brownies, Café Cubano, and ice cream), inspired by my Cuban heritage.
I feel incredibly lucky to have had the support of the Santa Clara County community over the last 25 years. Our customers mean everything to us, and they have sustained Luv’s Brownies through an incredibly difficult year. When the pandemic hit last March, my sales plummeted almost overnight, dropping by nearly 90 percent.
I wasn’t alone and many small businesses fared much worse—a report from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that 41 percent of Black-owned businesses and 32 percent of Latino-owned businesses closed their doors since March 2020. These very grim numbers are the reality for many small businesses. It has been a very difficult period, and we’ve all done everything we can to persevere through it.
I focused on utilizing the free online tools that Facebook and Instagram offered and set up my Facebook and Instagram Shop where customers are able to easily order items that Luv’s Brownies offers, including heart-shaped brownies, bite-sized brownie cupcakes, various brownie gift sets, branded swag items, and more.
Since the January launch of my dessert truck, my business has seen growing support from the Santa Clara County community. We experienced a 30 percent increase in engagement on Facebook and Instagram, which translates to real customers who are interested in learning where they can find us and how they can support us.
While a lot of our community is virtual right now, the relationships we build are real, and I want to give back to the community that has given so much to me.
A portion of all of our sales goes toward The Andrea R. Lacy “Grit Award” Scholarship. The foundation is intended to help students who have shown tenacity and overcome challenges by providing them with financial assistance to pursue higher education or vocational training and build on their success. We will be giving out up to three scholarships in the amount of $500 each in the May-through-June time frame.
I encourage everyone to support local minority-owned and woman-owned businesses that are hustling to stay afloat, especially during these difficult times. Shopping locally and investing your money in small businesses allows business owners to continue to share their products, services, or food with the community.