Grad gives equity an EDGE in the marketplace
Over the last one year, pop-up markets organized by Sheridan graduate Ashleigh Montague (Project Management ’16) have supported over 50 BIPOC-owned businesses, helping them to boost their sales and increase their outreach in the Hamilton, Niagara, Brantford and Halton regions. The pop-up markets showcased unique arts and crafts, including jewellery, candles and ornaments, as well as food and clothes stalls, and brought holiday cheer in the communities around them, in addition to brisk sales for the business-owners. “Most of the vendors sold out all their goods at these markets,” Ashleigh says with pride.
EDGE support crucial to success
Her BLK OWNED Hamilton which organized the markets is one of the 11 youth-led entrepreneurial ventures which were supported last year by the Social Impact Catalyst powered by RBC Future Launch, run by Sheridan’s entrepreneurship hub, EDGE, to help create the building blocks for equity, social justice and inclusion in the community.
BLK OWNED Hamilton was launched by Ashleigh and her sisters Abygail and Alexandria following the May 2020 police killing of an innocent Black man George Floyd on a Minneapolis street. They wanted to do something more than post black squares on social media as a gesture of solidarity with the protestors and decided to channel the outpouring of support for the Black community that followed the incident into positive action by generating a list of Black-owned businesses which the community could support with its purchasing power.
Small steps lead to big changes
Their online directory currently lists over 160 Black-owned businesses and the Instagram account has earned over 7,000 followers, thanks to the RBC funding which allowed them to hire social media specialists to boost their reach.
Ashleigh says their success is proof that even the smallest of initiatives can lead to a big change. “Our passion was to give back to our community, something that was instilled into us by our parents. We thought BLK OWNED would be a platform to showcase this wonderful list of businesses, and now it's grown into something bigger where we're able to provide programming and a marketing platform for these business owners. I think my advice would be to do whatever you can, even if it's just the smallest of things, to initiate change and follow your passions,” she says.