There are a lot of young, Black people making major moves #fortheculture. From non-profits and start-ups, to inspirational programming and empowering apparel, there are big things poppin’ thanks to young melanated talents who’ve decided to do their own thing their own way. Does the mainstream give these young makers and creators the shine they deserve? Of course not. No worries, though. That’s where Alexis Davis and The 2017 Black List of Creators and Tastemakers come in.
What inspired you to start The 2017 Black List?
I decided to start the #2017BlackList for two main reasons.
For one, 2016 was a difficult year for most, but was incredibly hard for the Black community. There were many times where we felt down, forgotten and overall neglected. I wanted a way to show our people that throughout times of adversity and struggle, we will continue shining, being absolutely amazing and overall forever proud to be Black.
I also decided to start the List because I noticed how many people in my networks, and their networks, were doing amazing things and weren’t getting as much credit as I felt they deserved. My friends were really doing it big by starting businesses and changing lives, but weren’t getting features in magazines or websites like our counterparts were even though the work is identical. I knew that had to change.
What do you hope to accomplish with The Black List?
I hope to encourage people who are hesitating to start a side-hustle or full-time business to actually start. I want us to realize that our 9-5 does not 100% define as, and that we should make an effort to find our passions and monetize them, especially if it can help the Black community now and in the future. At the end of the day, I want people to know more Black owned businesses across the country that they can work with and also promote.
How do you decide who to feature on The Black List?
I started out by making a list of people who had their own business or non-profit in my immediate network from my alma mater (UNC), my hometown (Raleigh) and my current town (Austin). At the end of each questionnaire, I ask the person I’m featuring to give me a few names of others who are doing something amazing.
From there the list started gaining traction and I was quickly reaching out to people I didn’t know. Before I knew it, I had people reaching out to me via text and social media to inform me about their friends and family who had ventures. It’s really been amazing to highlight people from every corner of the country a few times a week.
Has there been a common thread that has stood out among the Black creators and tastemakers you’ve interviewed? If so, what is it?
I ask every person I feature the same question: What advice do you have for people who are ready to follow their dreams but are hesitating? Almost every person has replied the same thing which is “Just Do It.”
The biggest problem we have when it comes to starting our own business is fear and time. We’re afraid we won’t succeed and then we use the excuse that we don’t have the time. We simply have to put all of that to the side and work hard to achieve our final goals.
Your work is pushing the culture forward. What, in your opinion, are the three most important things that we can do collectively to see the most positive change in the Black community?
I believe positive change can easily happen in our community by supporting one another, teaching the next generation and by speaking up.
Support – It’s important to support our brothers and sisters who are doing big things by any means. If you know someone who has a business that sells t-shirts, purchase one and post about it! If the item is out of your budget, still spread the word about it so others have the opportunity to purchase. Either way, it’s new business they did not previously have.
Teach – Educating young people about the importance of buying black will ensure that the next generation of consumers doesn’t allow the progress we’ve made simply end once we’re long gone.
Speak Up – When we see something going drastically wrong in our community, it’s vital that we speak up and take action instead of sitting back and hoping it will pass. We must always use our voices and let everyone know that we are not to be ignored.
Do you plan to continue The Black List in the coming years?
That’s a question I get asked often and it’s one that is still up in the air. I’m unsure if I will continue in this same format, but I certainly do plan to continue to feature Black businesses in some fashion.
What do you do when you’re not covering talented, young Black people?
I work as a social media manager and it’s safe to say that I love keeping up with the many platforms we use. I like to write blogs and teach classes about social media so others have the opportunity to improve their businesses online. I also love to run and workout which is necessary because Austin, Texas has some of the best restaurants I have ever been to! I also enjoy being outside and traveling to cool places I find on Instagram 🙂
Fill in the blank:
I am Young, Black& Efficient.
Alexis Davis is obsessed with social media marketing, content creation, and teaching others how to use digital tools and platforms to build a personal or professional brand. She’s currently the Social Media Manager at The Automotive Advertising Agency in Austin, Texas. She also enjoys freelance projects and has worked with The Andy Roddick Foundation, Austin Area Urban League Young Professionals, BlackPeopleMeet, the Final Four and numerous small businesses nationwide. Outside of work, you can find Alexis writing about social media for the Austin Startups blog, frequenting restaurants that serve macaroni & cheese, playing with her Snapchat Spectacles or running Austin’s hike and bike trail.