In 2016, South L.A. native Mone’t Lamb launched The Black Business Tour (TBBT), with the intention of increasing the visibility of Black-owned businesses. Today, the company is providing marketing services by using bus tours to shine a spotlight on business owners in the Los Angeles area.
Lamb created TBBT with the idea of ensuring the essence and existence of Black-owned businesses. By helping business owners “thrive as the world around them evolves.”
“The Black Business Tour’s focus is to rally up persons within community sectors to ensure that they are aware of the businesses that are Black owned, as well as anyone outside of the African American communities who are looking to support those businesses,” she said.
Lamb first got started with TBBT after a live video she did at a Black-owned beauty supply in Inglewood went viral. Soon she began receiving praise and support, which resulted in other business owners asking her to promote their businesses. Prior to that, Lamb was using her Facebook page as a means to promote positive images that were happening in the African American community.
“The beauty supply video is really what started it all. There was a girl in the comments who said, ‘hey you should do a Black business tour,’ and the rest really is history,” said Lamb.
Los Angeles Sentinel (LAS): Why did you feel there is a need for The Black Business Tour?
Mone’t Lamb (ML): Just seeing the gentrification and how the community is changing as a whole. This has always been a community of color. So, I noticed that as gentrification was occurring and that the cities and the communities were changing. It looked like there was a displacement of African American people within businesses in particular, it was growing at a very fast rate. We can’t stop gentrification but we can definitely ride it and thrive through it. So, I decided to use my own platform of popularity to say, “hey everybody, look at what I’m doing. I’m supporting Black businesses.” Otherwise, once the dust settles on gentrification, if African American people are not finding some way to educate ourselves even through homeownership, business ownership, or leaving legacies behind for those who come after us, we will look up and we really will be on the outskirts of L.A. trying to figure out what to do.
LAS: Why is it important for people of color to support Black-owned businesses?
ML: I believe that if we don’t first support our own, we will ultimately be the reason why we [don’t] thrive. Gentrification is happening all over the nation. I believe as a people of color, the system is not designed for the African American person. It’s just not. When the planning of it happens, it is planned with ways to keep us out of that but still wanting to use whatever components African Americans have contributed. The system is designed for us to fail. The only way we can survive is if [we] rally together. We have to look in comparison to what other cultures are doing and support our own first.
LAS: Do you have any advice for people who have had a negative experience at a Black-owned business?
ML: I too have had that experience and that is the reality that sometimes there is a lack of education there in terms of business owners opening businesses and not really having the skillset of customer service. One of the things that I do, and through The Black Business Tour we pride ourselves on, is that you are not just attaching yourself to The Black Business Tour and we are bringing business to you. There is a certain criteria that will help us help you provide a better experience for the guests. So with intention if you are visiting during one of our tours, we have already had conversations about what that business can do to help the customers feel like they are welcome, appreciated, and make them want to spend their dollars. I also started doing surveys to find out how the guests feel and to see what their experience was like with the tour and encourage them to tell us about their experience with the business.
TBBT is known for its themed tours. Recently, the company had a Mother’s Day themed tour so that people could celebrate and honor the phenomenal women in their lives. Also, in March of this year, The Black Business Tour had its first pop-up collective tour. The tour focused on what Lamb refers to as “businesses without walls” which includes business who are home based, mobile based, or web based.
“I noticed a common ground with these businesses. That they didn’t have very many followers. Many of the business are just starting out and many of them are home based, so they are growing. I decided to look for businesses who didn’t have very many followers. Who didn’t have the exposure or very many support. I wanted this tour to be about the exposure for those businesses.”
During the pop-up collective, tour-goers had access to products, services, shopping, classes and more. The Black Business Tour, occurs on a monthly basis, the next pop-up collective is to be determined. However, Lamb did receive a high volume of positive responses from the first one.
Reserve your spot for on the next Black Business Tour by visiting www.blackbusinesstour.com! Follow The Black Business Tour on Facebook and Instagram @theblackbusinesstour and on Twitter @blackbiztour.