During the week of Kwanzaa, Lauran Smith launches her first Kwanzaa Black Brands Krawl (KBBK or the Krawl). “The idea popped in my head after seeing so many news reports about how businesses were continuing to suffer as a result of the Pandemic. I hopped into action!” Lauran Smith is also the entrepreneur and creative genius behind Chicago Black Restaurant Week (CBRW). The Kwanzaa Black Brands Krawl is another opportunity for communities to unite and support black-owned businesses during this holiday season.
Lauran’s mission and vision for the Krawl provides an end-of-year push to funnel funds back into Black-owned businesses. “Many do not understand that businesses have overhead, etc. The pandemic limits how we shop. Hopefully, the virtual Krawl will allow businesses to see the numbers they need for their 2021 projections,” stated Lauran. Black businesses can register to participate in the Krawl by emailing email@example.com. Participating businesses will be announced on social media on December 20. Follow them to view the list and for updates on Facebook and Instagram, @kwanzaabbk.
Before the pandemic, Lauran was featured on Windy City Live to promote and talk about the success of Chicago Black Restaurant Week. This event held during the second week in February features Black-Owned restaurants. Chef Michael Digsby from the Woodlawn, Keisha Rucker, owner of Soul Shack, and Phil Simpson, co-owner of Phlavz joined her on the show. CBRW started out of her desire to provide Black restaurants their “own space”. She wanted the restaurants featured to showcase the amazing cuisine they provide. Lauran says that she recognized the need for this type of event when she noticed that few Black restaurants were on the docket during Chicago Restaurant Week. She is committed to breaking generational and wealth gaps in the Black community. The Kwanzaa Black Brands Krawl puts black businesses centerstage to be seen, heard, and supported by the masses. “I want the mighty “Black” represented as much as possible,” shared Lauran. Follow Chicago Black Restaurant Week on Facebook and Instagram, @officialchicagobrw.
According to a Nielsen report, ‘Black Americans command $1.3 trillion in spending power.’ That’s a lot of power and value that Black consumers hold. Lauran explains, “Black people first have to understand their value before understanding the value of the Black dollar. With African-Americans as the largest consumer base, we have the power to help sustain businesses in our communities by spending with Black businesses.” Lauran’s efforts through CBRW and the Krawl demonstrate two of the seven principles of Kwanzaa – Umoja – unity and Ujamaa – extended family or brotherhood.
She shares a few encouraging words to Black consumers and business owners:
To the Black consumer: “there isn’t a “perfect business” anywhere; but supporting businesses and showing them that their products and services matter, is a great way for them to improve on processes and customer service !”
To the Black business owner: “Anyone who knows me will be quite clear that I LOVE supporting my community, and I always want to be in a position of service to them – and ways to serve them is by promoting their brands, spending money with them, and creating something that allows for global support.
Lauran Smith has more in store in the future, such as an apparel line and an accountability journal for Black women. She continues to build the Kwanzaa Krawl’s brand.
Kim Durden is a food writer and owner of Divine Dine Food Tours and DivinE320, an online marketplace featuring themed and custom gift boxes.