It was an opportunity of a lifetime and Beatrice Dixon took it. Target agreed to stock their shelves with her plant-based feminine hygiene products, The Honey Pot. What makes this even more of a significant triumph is that Bea Dixon is a black woman and The Honey Pot is 100% black-owned.
In February 2020, Target released a television commercial featuring Bea and The Honey Pot products. This commercial was strategically released in honor of Black History Month. In the commercial, Bea states that the reason it is important for The Honey Pot to do well is “So the next black girl that comes up with a great idea, she can have a better opportunity.”
After the commercial aired, the floodgates of hate opened. On one particular consumer review website, Trust Pilot, nasty, derogatory, racists comments were made about Bea and her products in the form of reviews. The reviewers called Bea a racist; used the “n” word; and vowed to never purchase her product, or never purchase it again…… all because she expressed that she wanted to be an inspiration to girls who looked like her, who will likely face some of the same struggles as she did when trying to bring her product to mainstream, and who have historically been discriminated against in general and in particular, the retail space and funding space. Oh, did I mention that it was a commercial that was intended to align with Black History month? That means “blackness” will be highlighted. That means the achievements of black people will be recognized and highlighted. I personally believe it’s pretty sad that we even have to have one month of the year to do this. It should be all year long, just like it is for every other race.
The people who authored those reviews are the real racists, in my opinion. It seems as though some people from other races cannot stand to see black people have a moment of cultural elevation but they do it all the time. It’s a problem when we uplift our own race. They are quick to throw the reverse-racism card out there instead of understanding that there is some pretty ugly history that has facilitated the need for black people to do things to recognize our own race because we still don’t get the proper credit, recognition and respect we deserve from mainstream. In a perfect world, there would be no need for us to create platforms specifically to address our needs because it would automatically be done by the masses, just like with every other race. If those reviewers were honest with themselves and would strip themselves of the denial of the injustices minorities face, they would have never took offense to her message and would have understood exactly where she was coming from.
Just because Bea is excited about being an inspiration to girls of her own race does not mean she is a racist. It does not mean that she does not wish girls of other races the best. It does not mean she is praying for the downfall of the startups of other fabulous women who are not black. Those people who left those reviews are the kind of people that look for excuses to say “see, black people are racist too”. This accusation of racism against Bea can NEVER be seriously compared to the real and true racism that black people have and still experience. I’m sure some of those who were already using the product would have stopped purchasing it whether she made that statement or not once they found out the company was black-owned. That’s my opinion.
But…….. what was meant to do Beatrice Dixon and her company harm worked out for her good….. and I love it! The company was already doing well before this commercial was aired according to statistics that were reported, however, it outperformed previous sales numbers by 50% once black women caught wind of the foolishness that was happening on the Trust Pilot website and on Target’s social media platforms.
Almost instantaneously, black women rose to the occasion to have our sister’s back and supported her by buying her products. Target responded to the backlash with this statement given by one of it’s spokespersons:
“We’re proud to work with Bea Dixon and The Honey Pot team to highlight Bea’s journey to build her brand and bring her products to Target. We’re aware of some negative comments about the campaign, which aren’t in line with the overwhelmingly positive feedback we’ve received from guests who love and have been inspired by Bea’s story.” I have respect for Target for not folding under pressure due to the threats of those hateful people.
This is what the response to this situation proved to me:
Women are powerful…..period, when we leverage our strengths the right way. In this case, our power was in our wallets and bank accounts. We can make significant changes to important issues if we stood together and united the way we did for Bea and The Honey Pot brand.
African American women respond in strong numbers to things that directly influence them. Although only roughly 14% of the total female population, African American women are very influential with cultural trends and spend more on health and beauty products. We are a consumer market with a combined buying power in the trillions, according to data reported by Nielsen.
This situation has also proved to me that African American women can be the key to growing very successful small businesses, if the same energy that was used to come to the defense of The Honey Pot brand is used on a regular basis. If we used our power, our money, and resources to support women owned businesses every day, without a crisis playing out, do you know what kind of impact that would make? Our money is just as powerful as our vote!
What if we used that same determination to ensure that businesses of women we actually know are successful the same way we did for The Honey Pot, a black-owned business, whom we have no personal relationship with the owner? What if we did that for quality, reputable female-owned businesses who have not yet made it to the shelves of a major retailer, but instead operates their businesses online and trying to grow their businesses?
I learned that when black women get fired up about something, we will pay whatever the cost to prove a point. The Honey Pot’s price point is higher than some of their feminine hygiene brand competitors, but we came together and paid that price. We are willing to pay higher prices for what we believe in. Do you believe that all black women (and women in general) deserve to have successful businesses, whether their brand is stocked in a major retailer’s store or not? If so, how often do you patronize their businesses? If not, why?
I also learned that we have the ability to help female-owned businesses flourish, but we have not done such a great job. If we had been, there would be more women-owned small businesses who would not have to close their doors within 5 years of opening them. There would be more black, female-owned businesses that are profitable, not just breaking even. When we showed up at Target stores all over the country and emptied their shelves of The Honey Pot products and when we made so many online purchases that some of the products will be out of stock for at least 2 weeks, according to the company’s Facebook page, it was proven that we have the economic power to build strong black-woman owned businesses, and women-owned businesses in general.
We made a reactive stand to this unwarranted backlash but it would be more significant if we were intentional and proactive about purchasing products and services from black women-owned businesses.
What this incident with The Honey Pot proved to me is that we can break barriers, we can move mountains, and we can really be our sister’s keeper, if only we were committed to the advancement and growth of women-owned businesses and that we provide continuous support for these business, not just when something pisses us off, but all the time.
My hope is that many other women have observed what I have, see the impact we made, and will make it their business to keep the momentum going by spending their money with other women.
I already believed all of this was possible, but the outpouring of support proved it.
Ladies, we have the power!
Jackie Robinson is the founder of SheBoss Unlimited and is an advocate for the advancement of women in career and business.
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