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Jae’da Turner means business

Black Owned Bos. provides support for local businesses

Celina Colby
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Jae’da Turner means business
Jae’da Turner, founder of Black Owned Bos., at one of the Seaport open markets. PHOTO: Seaport/Bred Hampton

Jae’da Turner is in the business of spreading the word. The Boston native and entrepreneur runs Black Owned Bos., a platform dedicated to highlighting and supporting Black-owned businesses in Boston. With 22,800 followers on Instagram, Blacked Owned Bos. is amplifying business messages for a huge breadth of potential customers.

Turner grew up patronizing Black-owned businesses, some of which are now in her business directory. “Chez Vous is one of them,” says Turner, reminiscing fondly about the Dorchester roller skating rink. “I remember going to birthday parties and community events in that space growing up. It was always a space where I felt like I belonged, and it was of the community.” Recently, Turner wrote a piece for Eater Boston about Chez Vous’ pivot to soul food to sustain them during the pandemic. This kind of publicity is just one of the many ways Black Owned Bos. supports the business community.

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Shoppers browse products at a Black Owned Bos. open market in the Seaport.

Shoppers browse products at a Black Owned Bos. open market in the Seaport. PHOTO: Seaport/Bred Hampton

Joining the online directory through a simple input form is the easiest way to get involved in Black Owned Bos. This is free for businesses and, according to Turner, always will be. The directory has over 1,200 business in it, categorizing them by product and providing easy access for consumers looking to support Black-owned shops or services. Additional advertising opportunities are available for a fee, such as the Friday features on the Black Owned Bos. Instagram page. Business owners can also find vending opportunities at markets and pop-ups through the platform. Black Owned Bos. has hosted pop-up marketplaces in collaboration with the Seaport and the South Bay shopping center, among others.

These measures can have a big payout for businesses. “That word of mouth has an exponential impact,” says Turner. “One of the vendors in the holiday gift guide reached out and said that a law firm had reached out to her to purchase 300 of an item for their employee holiday gift.”

For businesses looking to move from online to a brick-and-mortar, Turner offers the Retail Incubation Program, a system designed to provide a low-risk, high-support environment for business owners making that transition. It’s essentially a trial period when businesses can test out a brick-and-mortar space while learning skills like procurement, fixtures and merchandising, and branding and marketing.

Turner traces a lot of the challenges Black business owners face back to the segregated neighborhoods in Boston. “The segregation is one of the biggest challenges, but it also manifests in a number of ways, access to resources, whether those resources are mentors, coaching, financial resources, access to capital, even understanding how a lot of systems work,” she says. Black Owned Bos. combats these discrepancies by providing brand awareness, development and learning opportunities for small businesses.

A typical day at the helm of Black Owned Bos. involves a lot of relationship-building. Turner will communicate with business owners about their needs and challenges and work with them to find the right supportive system to address those issues. She might grab lunch from a Black-owned restaurant or pick up a few products from a Black-owned shop before scheduling out her social media calendar. She lives and breathes the business landscape, always looking for new ways to bring value to the Black business community.

Black Owned Bos. hits the streets again on Sunday, April 25 with another open-air marketplace in partnership with the Seaport. From 12-6 p.m., shoppers can browse a variety of vendors from Turner’s directory live and in person. The Seaport marketplace will be an ongoing collaboration, with regular pop-ups throughout the summer. In addition to visiting marketplaces and supporting the directory businesses, community members can support Black Owned Bos. through social media amplification, product purchases and direct donations.

“I want to be able to create a space to aggregate these businesses and create visibility there,” says Turner. “Being top of mind is crucial.” Black owned businesses provided Turner with countless happy childhood memories, and now she’s returning the favor.

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