This Needs To Be Said
To our community -
As a company that focuses on amplifying awareness around value-driven brands, we have a perspective when it comes to the Black Lives Matter movement. It goes without saying that we stand firmly in support of the Black community in the fight against systemic racism. Hate has no home with us, or within our community. Furthermore, we are dedicated to bringing Black-Owned businesses to the forefront of the conversation and as an early stage startup, we are doing what we can to be part of the change we so desperately need to see in the world - and in this country.
At The Verticale, we have always prided ourselves on being inclusive in our voice, our imagery and throughout our content. In fact, showing an inclusive mix of imagery (diversity, body inclusivity, real photos) has been a top priority of ours since day one. We’ve all seen enough images of blonde models in bikinis, or “perfect” families to last a lifetime and frankly, it kills me that so many major retailers still send out this kind of tone deaf messaging. An admirable level of inclusivity and feeling of realness is what drew me to the digitally native brand world in the first place.
What recent events have so clearly shown me, is that inclusivity in imagery is not enough. Our team is saddened by recent events, and it’s made us look harshly at the sheer number of Black-owned brands in our consumer startup world that have received funding to support their businesses. At The Verticale we have high standards for the brands we feature: we look for quality - that costs money, we look for a customer centric mentality and unbeatable customer support - that costs money, we look for a certain level of branding - that costs money. And to start this kind of brand you need factories to believe in you, talented people to work for you, advisors to help you, and funding to design a website with compelling content. After George Floyd’s death and the so necessary eruption of the BLM movement started, I realized that out of the 400+ brands on our ‘approved’ brand list, that I could count the number of Black-owned businesses on one hand. Damn.
So with this, I’ll say that we have committed to the 15% pledge. We have gone in search of new brands, and were pleasantly surprised to find many under-the-radar founders who’ve built incredible businesses unbeknownst to us. It’s so inspiring to think that they’ve overcome so much to build their companies to this point, and I can only hope it gets easier for them from here. At The Verticale, we are promoting Black-owned brands on our site, we will be featuring their founders in upcoming content, we are making a consistent pledge (not just in the moment). And we have a lot of big plans for our business in the upcoming year - for all of which the 15% pledge will remain.
This isn’t to be celebrated, it’s the least we can do - I want to make that clear. I look to others in the digitally native space to work with us toward this change, by funding companies that deserve it, providing support wherever they can, and inspiring the next generation of founders to be much more diverse than we currently are. I recognize the retail startup space is one seemingly insignificant piece of the puzzle, but as startups we are the sector that is supposed to be challenging the status quo and I believe we can do so much better.