Celebrating Black Business Owners in Boulder: Leontyne Ashmore’s Barefoot-inspired Shoes
It’s important that the Boulder community recognizes the significance of supporting Black-owned small businesses, not just for one week or one month, but all year round.
Last month was Black Business Month, a time to celebrate Black-owned businesses here in Colorado and across the country and honor the rich heritage of Black entrepreneurship and Black-owned businesses. It’s important that the Boulder community recognizes the significance of supporting Black-owned small businesses, not just for one week or one month, but all year round.
I founded my company, Lisbeth Joe, after developing diastasis recti—or separation of the abs—from childbirth. I realized going barefoot helped make my body stronger. I started wearing minimalist shoes, which are nice and wide, so there is plenty of room for your toes to move freely and your whole foot to move in comfort. They are lightweight and flexible, with no artificial arch support or heel elevation.
However, I still needed shoes to wear in the workplace and I couldn’t find any stylish options. So, I decided to quit my job and start my own business making stylish barefoot-inspired shoes.
Like most small business owners, I’ve had to get creative to survive during the pandemic, and I find myself doing the same thing now since I’m dealing with production delays. My sales are down this year as supply chain issues continue to result in significant inventory delays. My winter boots were delivered after the winter season had already ended and my summer loafers and summer sandals, which were supposed to come in May, still haven’t even arrived.
Thankfully, Instagram has been a great platform for me. It’s become the place where I get most of my sales and has afforded me the ability to keep my business afloat. Social media has been a lifesaver when it comes to supporting small businesses. I use several of the available business tools including Instagram Reels, which helps me demonstrate how to style some of my shoes, primarily the boots. I’ve noticed people like to save these videos to refer back to when they’re putting together an outfit.
I also use social media to post giveaways and conduct polls to drive engagement from my followers and utilize Business Manager to place targeted ads on Facebook and Instagram to promote my business.
It is crucial that Black-owned businesses have greater access to these digital tools. Small business surveys show that the pandemic had a devastating impact on their ability to survive, where 26% of minority-led businesses closed, and many more faced a troubling drop in sales.
That’s why I believe it’s so critical to support other business owners. I contribute a portion of my sales to Kiva, which directly benefits women entrepreneurs. It’s a great organization, providing opportunities and empowerment to female entrepreneurs all over the world who can’t access the financial services they need.
This month is a reminder to continue to empower Black business owners in our communities and advocate for economic inclusivity for all — during this month and all year round I encourage everyone to go out and support their local Black-owned businesses.