Guest Blogger: Aaron Barnes (Dapper Black Box)
The subscription service business platform is a growing phenomenon. It adheres to the shoppers desire of convenience and cost-efficiency. For the month of April, Magnepels had the pleasure of being one of the featured products with the subscription service, Dapper Black Box (DBB). Hear from DBB's CEO, Aaron Barnes as he breaks down the "Why" inside the box as their company also adheres to some shoppers third desire, consciousness.
The first thing many of us do when we decide to buy black is search for black-owned directories online. Poring over google search engine pages, Facebook groups, Tumblr threads, and the like, you can come across dozens of directories without a lot of overlap.
That’s a big problem. It’s such a big problem that I thought I wanted to fix it at first.
But the more I thought about what I really wanted for a business that I created, Dapper Black Box’s mission emerged. Dapper Black Box (DBB) exists to encourage investment into black-owned businesses (BOBs).
Though business directories certainly do this, I wanted to take a more direct route.
Championing collective energy
One critique I have of black-owned directories was that it they make it difficult for consumers to choose between options. There are few signals to the consumer that any business is better positioned to meet his needs. At the same time, it’s in every independent business’ interest to self-promote, but when everyone is saying, “Look at me! Buy from me!” it’s hard to choose who to buy from. I thought DBB could serve as a third-party entity focused on championing the collective energy that each individual business puts out into the digital marketplace. In other words, DBB says, “Look at all of this amazing work that BOBs are doing in this space!”
Selling an idea
It was when I focused on the idea of encouraging investment into black businesses that creating DBB to be a subscription service began to make sense. Not only are subscription services an easy-to-manage business model for my day-career, but they are also an excellent vehicle for advancing our mission.
Again, DBB exists to encourage investment. Using a subscription business model allows us to encourage consistent investment by recycling the recurring payments back into black-owned businesses. We go beyond pointing to worthy BOBs and make it easy to support them by curating 4-5 items from different brands each month.
Continuing to meet our audience’s needs
Now that we’ve sent over 2,500 subscriptions in less than 2 years, I’m convinced that we’re beginning to meet a need in the market. Our goals over the next phase of DBB’s growth are to continue to meet our target audience’s needs by expanding what it means to be dapper and celebrating blackness more generally.
We’re addressing the first need by connecting BOBs that don’t clearly fit a traditional “dapper” definition with our partner, Impact Service Promotions (sp?). ISP is a BOB within my family in-law that helps supply businesses with thousands of promotional materials. We have partnered with ISP to supply developing BOBs with promotional materials that can help get the word out about their businesses.
I’m especially excited about how we’re addressing the second need. DBB subscribers/followers know that we name each month’s curation after an influential black man (e.g., March’s DBB was named in honor of Clarence Avant). Up until the middle of 2016, we did not provide much information about the DBB namesake. Now, however, we’re digitally chronicling information about each DBB namesake through our YouTube series, “The Bigger Picture.”
I’m always happy to discuss ideas about how DBB can continue to meet your needs. Please do not hesitate to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can chat!