Knoxville Black Business Directory spotlights local minority-owned businesses

Knoxville, Tenn. (WATE) – Finding a local place to eat, shop, find auto repair or healthcare can be a daunting task if you don’t know where to start.

Add to that search the ability to find local minority and black-owned businesses and until October 2020, there was no specific option for Knoxville-based businesses.

Enter: The Black Business Directory.

“If you’ve decided to do something different, spend some of your money on a black-owned business. It’s local, that money stays local and supports the local economy,” said Damon Rawls, senior digital strategist at Damon Rawls Consulting.

Rawls said he was inspired to create the “21st Century” database through his own experience. He wanted to find a black-owned business and realized there was no easy way to find one for what he needed.

What he knew: Black and minority business owners with local services that he believes should be enhanced. So in October 2020, months into the COVID-19 pandemic, he created the website and directory to help.

“We see big companies folding today. Small businesses are more likely to sink in this environment. One of the main goals is to help these businesses grow and thrive,” Rawls said.

Rawls’ experience in marketing is on display in the design of the website. It is user-friendly and offers 27 service categories. Categories range from restaurants and legal services to pet services and stores.

Web Exclusive: Conversation with the owner of Knox Upholstery on the new directory

Rachel Fletcher owns Knox Upholstery and for the past 11 years has been “upgrading your furniture,” she said.

“I take your chair, strip all the padding, strip all the padding, and give it new life,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher said she is proud of the work she does not only in her business, but also for her representation in the community.

“It was important to register on the website because A. I’m a black person, but also B. we need more exposure,” Fletcher said.

She said she wanted to support the directory by getting involved and posting her contact details and business information there, as one of the first. The pandemic has given her business a boost, she said, as more people are at home.

“It’s been really, really good, the pandemic, because it’s forced everyone to come home, they’re looking at their furniture and sitting in their chairs and furniture more…” Fletcher said.

“It Changed My Business”: Why Business Owners Want

Clara’s Closet and Crafts is one of 130 businesses listed in the directory. The thrift store on Magnolia Avenue in Knoxville is owned by Breyauna Holloway.

The storefront opened in November 2020, after three successful years in an online store through Poshmark and Etsy.

Holloway, an Austin-East High School graduate, said she hopes the store will become a place for young adults in the community to go to proms or school dances to find high-end clothes at a lower price. cost. It’s a way, she says, to give back to the community.

“I’m a third generation grad from Austin-East so spring is coming hopefully this coronavirus [pandemic] will be under control and they can have a proper prom,” Holloway said.

She started her business selling children’s clothes that her own children grew up in, then clothes that she no longer wore. It evolved into the storefront for Magnolia Avenue in Knoxville.

She joined the Black Business Directory to set up its store in a location that is easily accessible to the community.

“You’re not just helping me and my family, I’m a single mom with five kids, I pay rent here at my store, I pay rent at my house. I give back to the people you know,” Holloway said.

Holloway said as her business grows, she plans to give back even more. Right now, she said she wants to support the communities that have done the same for her: Austin-East High School and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She is a former student of both schools.

“People know that women-owned businesses, black-owned businesses, don’t necessarily have the resources that big corporations have,” Holloway said.

There are no signs to mark her store at 2131 Magnolia Avenue, but she hopes her name in the directory will suffice, for now.

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