First, let me give you a little background on me and how Black Soap Club came about, and then the vision will make a lot more sense. I was born to be an owner, not an employee. I started selling candy in middle school, started my first real business at the age of 19, which was part of the reason I was the youngest person in my graduating class at Harvard Business School, and I've only had a corporate job for a total of 1 year of my life. I'm not made for corporate life, and I'm really not made to work for white people. That's just how it is. I was born this way. My true gift is being able to connect the economic dots and recognizing opportunities few others see, which is why I've been in bitcoin/crypto since 2013 when most of the people reading this right now probably just learned about it in the last few months. I don't mean all this to boast, but I just want to illustrate that there's some experience and a lot of thought behind the ideas I'm about to lay out.
Almost every business I've started has had something to do with Black people, and my life's mission is Black economic empowerment. Specifically, I want to help create at least 1,000 Afrikan-centered millionaires. I'm actually finishing up a book on Black economic development targeted at Black organizations and Black governments right now. And I'm a student of Afrikan/Black history and the works of Dr. Amos Wilson, so I've seen the patterns that have developed over many centuries and what it takes to even begin to think about nation building.
The problem with most Black business owners is that they don't have this knowledge to recognize the larger context in which their business operates. They're simply trying to re-create what they've seen others build, except make it Black-owned. While this is better than doing nothing, it's also the reason why they struggle...because they're playing the wrong game. We don't need white supremacy in Black face.
We'll never win playing their game. We need to rethink everything we've been taught and totally re-imagine what a sustainable Black economy looks like. That also goes for how we operate our businesses. The reason why we struggle economically is because our so-called Black leaders haven't even begun to think about these things and they completely unqualified to do so even if they wanted to. There's a lot of education that must still take place, and the current education system is not built to teach Black people to think this way.
So, when I was thinking about what business to start that could have a large impact and actually fit into a bigger economic development strategy, I wanted to pick an industry where Black people had a natural comparative advantage (as opposed to a competitive advantage). One industry that really sticks out is Black hair and skin care. Our hair and skin is unique, white companies are not focused on creating great products for us, and, even if they were, I believe we are better at it because we know ourselves better than they do. Finally, unlike most industries, we actually have a lot of Black businesses already in this space because the barriers to entry are so low (you can make natural soap in your kitchen).
If you look at Black America as it's own nation and think about developing that nation's economy, you need to first think about import substitution. That means instead of buying certain products from outside the nation, we need to start making them ourselves. From that point of view, it makes sense that Black people should dominate the Black bath, body, and beauty sector. At the very least, every single Black household in America should be using soap made by a Black-owned company when they shower. That alone would create at least $1+ billion worth of annual revenue.
That brings me to the vision for Black Soap Club. Imagine a cooperative company in the consumer goods industry that is majority owned by its members (Black-owned businesses), employees, and members of Black organizations, but rivals the scale and size of the likes of P&G or Unilever and is vertically integrated across Afrika and the Diaspora. So Black-owned business can grow and instead of selling out to a white corporation (like Nubian Heritage did), sell into the cooperative. And instead of being dependent on a few large brands, there would be many smaller brands that could still take advantage of the whole organizations scale when it comes to back-office support, purchasing, marketing, etc., kind of like an incubator.
This co-op would have it's own internal economy; an employee credit union, healthcare, subsidized Afrikan-centered education for employee's children, and even it's own currency. Entire sustainable communities could be built around the co-ops offices, distribution, and manufacturing facilities.
Imagine what a multi-billion dollar Black-owned company that actually cared about Black people and had Afrikan-centered values could do. Most of us can't even picture it. People have been assassinated for trying to do much less than this for the Black community, which is why this relies on a cooperative, and not a corporation or organization with a single "leader" that fails when that leader is no longer there. Ego must not be allowed to dominate this endeavor.
None of these ideas are new. We just haven't been conditioned to believe they're possible for us.