After the despicable murder of George Floyd, supporting Black-owned brands has been on the forefront of everyone’s minds. Many haphazardly took to social media to share their favorite Black-owned brands; some even created a directory.
One person, however, took a niche, organized approach to help people find Black-owned brands while they shopped the aisles of Target—many of which were under the radar. To this day, Target While Black founder Marissa Kearney continues to help Black brands and consumers with her viral posts.
How Target While Black started
Everyone loves a trip to Target, and Marissa Kearney is no different. During the height of the pandemic in December 2020, Kearney visited her local Target and was excited to see so many Black Santa Claus figurines, wrapping paper, and décor decking the aisles of its seasonal section. She took to social media to share this, and was surprised by the engagement the post received. Kearney then created the Instagram page @targetwhileblack and the rest, as they say, is history.
Kearney began sharing Black representation on shelves such as brown-skinned Santas and other products showcasing Black people. She pivoted to introducing brands on shelves owned by Black founders. Her well-thought-out Instagram reels and TikTok videos have garnered millions of views and have driven thousands to shop more intentionally when visiting Target.
Along with @targetwhileblack, Kearney started @retailwhileblack which explores other major retailers like Walmart, Ulta, Sprouts, and Nordstrom that include Black-owned brands.
Surprising ways Target While Black is helping consumers
Kearney understands that many aren’t aware of the Black-owned brand options at Target. She shares brands with 50 percent or more Black-ownership along with brands that were Black-founded that still have a stake in the company and contribute to the community.
A TikTok user shared, “You have completely changed the way I shop at Target. I turn your videos on in the store and let them play while I am shopping in the store.” Tina on Instagram added, “Target’s marketing was not reaching me…” and thanked Marissa Kearney for helping her find products that were suited for her.
Kearney’s goal is to create awareness of Black-owned and Black-founded brands in retail spaces.
“We all want to buy Black,” she tells BLACK ENTERPRISE. We all want to give back to our community in a way, but a lot of times it can feel inconvenient because you have to go online. You don’t get those things right away and sometimes that can be hard for people… but if you’re going to Target or Walmart or wherever you usually are and [there are] Black-owned products there, that is a way for you to buy Black in a more convenient space.”
How Target While Black is helping Black-owned brands in a major way
While getting into a major retailer isn’t an easy task, staying on shelves can be even harder. Most retailers have sell-through targets for their suppliers, requiring them to sell a certain number of items over a set period in order to remain there.
Kearney understands this and has been overwhelmed by the responses she has received from brands she has promoted—their sales have increased since her post, receiving many messages noting @targetwhileblack as the catalyst for their purchase.
Wondry Wines, a brand Kearney has shared, noted, “I have a few different stories of people who ran to stores after seeing your reel/TikTok. Marissa, we can’t thank you enough for the feature. Our [following has] already grown 40 percent and [is] still climbing!”
In addition to driving sales, however, Kearney also helps brands get onto Target shelves through her partnership with Curate 360, a full-suite service provider helping brands get the knowledge and resources required to get onto retail shelves. Kearney plays the middle-woman, connecting the brands in her DMs wanting assistance with the people who can help.
Check out Melissa Kearney’s Target While Black on Instagram (@targetwhileblack and @retailwhileblack) and on TikTok (@targetwhileblack).