The Shift: Black Paper Party faces the Sharks
- The partners' initial concept was to make Christmas wrapping paper with illustrations of Black people — a simple notion that's been largely overlooked by the traditional gift-giving industry.
Driving the news: The trio — Jasmine Hudson, J'Aaron Merchant and Madia Willis — will appear on ABC's "Shark Tank" at 7pm Friday.
- They weren't permitted to discuss the outcome of the prerecorded "pitch-for-investment" competition until after the broadcast.
The big picture: Black adults made up 12.4% of the U.S. population in 2020, yet just 3% of the nation's businesses were Black-owned.
Details: Since 2020, Black Paper Party has diversified offerings to include ceramics, stockings, clothing and ornaments — about 200 items — all representing Black people.
- Hudson and Merchant point out their target market is larger than the Black population — that churches, nonprofits and adoptive parents who want to be inclusive also buy their products.
- They see potential to spread into other special occasions like birthdays, Valentine's Day, etc.
Between the lines: Growth has been dramatic. The three, who met while working at Walmart headquarters, have products in 6,000 retail stores.
- Walmart, Target, Macy's, Family Dollar, Dollar General and CVS all carry the line, though not at all their stores.
- What's next: Dollar General and Kohl's will carry a Black History Month program designed by the company next year that includes apparel, stationary and coloring books.
The bottom line: Hudson and Merchant still live in NWA. The business has been built on investments from friends and family, out of the partners' back pockets and loans.
- Yes, but: If one of the Sharks bites on Friday, the company could get an investment to help them to the next level.
🎁The Shift is a regular feature to catch up quick on what's happening in Arkansas' economy and entrepreneurial ecosystem.
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