Op-EdOpinion

SERGEANT: Like My Scrubs, Black-Owned Businesses Come In All Shapes and Sizes — They All Need Our Support

August represents National Black Business Month, a month devoted to supporting and celebrating Black-owned businesses across the country. As the owner of a Black- and woman-owned business, and a proud woman of West Indian and Spanish heritage in the Maryland/D.C. area, celebrating minority businesses is important to me, especially after facing the challenges of COVID-19.

I’m eternally grateful for the support I’ve received over the last year from the Black community, but with the increasing threat of the delta variant leading to new restrictions, it’s clear that Black-owned businesses are not out of the woods just yet. The growth of Black-owned businesses is extremely vital in terms of providing jobs, safety and revenue in order to keep the community thriving. I hope people in our community will continue to support Black-owned businesses because we really can make a difference with our spending power.

My own journey as a business owner, while nontraditional, started when I saw a need that wasn’t being filled. Growing up, I had a lifelong passion for fashion and retail, but realized that my path was in the health care industry as a licensed physical therapist, following in the footsteps of my late mother, a nurse.

Dr. Nicole Sergeant
Dr. Nicole Sergeant

As most health care professionals know, our jobs require us to wear scrubs throughout long workdays. Over the past 15 years, I could never find a pair of scrubs that would comfortably fit my figure. All of the scrubs I have worn have either been rough, uncomfortable, ill-fitting, unflattering or cheap. I’m a firm believer that looking and feeling good can enable front-line workers to feel more comfortable throughout their shifts. With that desire in mind, I launched Morgan Taylor Scrubs, challenging the current expectations of how scrubs fit.

Although I had always been a digital-only business, selling products directly through my website, I realized that I needed to pivot my strategy when the pandemic hit. I turned to social media, using the pandemic as an opportunity to enhance my promotions through free digital tools. We started targeting our ads toward health care workers exclusively and started selling our scrubs on Facebook Shops so customers could purchase our products directly through social media. This worked to our advantage, and as a result, the vast majority of our sales now come directly from Facebook.

Turning to social media has helped my business reach the appropriate customers, which has given us the chance to not only build relationships with health care professionals but also provide them with unique, stylish and comfortable apparel while they’re working longer than usual hours during the pandemic.

And to honor my late mother, I’ve committed to donating a portion of proceeds from every order to cancer research.

I’m truly fortunate that we were able to turn the changes associated with the pandemic into an opportunity to reach a wider audience and boost our sales. Social media has really helped with the uplifting of Black-owned and woman-owned businesses to rise up and get exposure. What’s most important, however, is the network of support minority business owners such as myself tapped into during a difficult time.

With many challenges still facing our community, it is important we continue to support those businesses that have already gone through so much. I encourage everyone to support their local, Black-owned businesses that are doing everything they can to remain successful, especially during these uncertain times.

Dr. Nicole Sergeant is the owner of Morgan Taylor Scrubs.

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