No matter the occasion, it’s always an appropriate time to BUY BLACK. Tech company Shea’d (pronounced “shade”) has made passing coins to our community incredibly easy, all while elevating Black creativity, inclusion, and economic empowerment.
Shea’d first took off as a directory to bridge the gap of connectivity in the local Black community in the Bay Area. Less than after a year of launching, the company had 3,000+ iOS downloads with a 4.8 rating, a growing audience of over 2K+ on social media and 200+ engaged newsletter subscribers. After winning the Pharrell Williams Black Ambition Prize, Shea’d has developed into a free browser extension that helps consumers find Black-owned products that meets their wants and needs.
The team behind Shea’d is an all-minority, powerhouse of five- including alumni from Spelman, Stanford University, Morehouse and Georgia Tech.
Co-founder Mya Havard shared insight to the company’s beginnings, and their mission to change how we access Black brands:
Why did you feel there was a need for Shea’d?
We started Shea’d because we moved from Atlanta to the Bay Area. The culture shock made us curious about where the Black communities and neighborhoods were in the Bay Area. To help us and others find the Black communities, we created an iOS app that highlighted Black Bay Area businesses and also shared stories about their owners.
As we got more traction, we wanted to expand and realize the best way to do that was the focus on online businesses and making shopping Black even easier with a browser extension.
What is your personal philosophy or motto that keeps you motivated and why?
What is the biggest life lesson you’ve learned along the way?
The biggest life lesson that I have learned through this journey is to make sure I am always solving real problems for real people. When you are focused on helping others, it is very rewarding for you and the other person and it is always a learning lesson.
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What’s a challenge you’ve overcome as a business owner in the past year?
When we focused on the Bay Area, we had a built in target audience of people who were very similar to us. When we expanded to online businesses, we realized that our audience was much broader which made us try to satisfy the needs of everybody.
One challenge we overcame was staying focus and narrowing our target audience to people who work in or are interested in fashion so that we are able to solve one problem very well before expanding.
What advice would you give someone looking to follow in your footsteps?
Shea’d is gearing up for a new update that will include thousands of Black-owned products, using AI to give users the best recommendations. So, if you’re looking to shop Black-owned this upcoming #FreedomDay and beyond, tap in!
A struggling 20-something year old with a passion for lifestyle, pop culture, and all things black girl magic.