A Convo with Michelle Dalzon of theBOM
What is the mission of theBOM?
theBOM, aka, The Black-Owned Market aims to support and grow Black-owned businesses by connecting them to their intended consumers. Our mission is to increase the circulation of the Black dollar by creating a destination where people can shop conveniently with Black brands that they love. In doing so, theBOM hopes to generate brand awareness through storytelling, by highlighting the creators behind Black businesses.
What prompted you to launch a Black-owned market and why do you think it's so necessary right now?
My parents are entrepreneurs, who have owned a beauty supply store for 29 years in Somerville, MA. I’ve always subconsciously had the entrepreneurship spirit from watching them grow their business from the ground up. In 1988, we served as the blueprint for Black businesses in our area because nothing like it existed. We were the foundation that allowed others people to feel like it was possible to do the same, which is what we began to see in the years thereafter — duplication. This resulted in declining sales for the store and even though we are still open, the store has not seen the same success as it did in the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s. Another dream of mine is to go back and completely re-design and elevate my parent’s store to modern day standards because I still feel as though there is a major void to be filled in the beauty supply space. One thing at a time, though — I’ll get to that!
It’s also necessary for us to see ourselves in power positions and to me, being a business owner is a power position. You are an inspiration almost just by existing. The most important feedback I received from theBOM Market shoppers in December was how much they couldn’t believe that people who looked like them, were around the same age are able to produce such great products. It motivated them to see Black entrepreneurs in that light and provided them with hope to someday do the same. Sometimes all it takes is seeing someone who looks like you show you it’s possible - and I was so happy to do provide that space for them.
The time for theBOM is now, I’ve have this concept for the past two years, but God told me the time is now — so here we are.
When did you know you wanted to be an entrepreneur? Was there a moment in time that sparked it, a mindset you were raised with, or something else?
In 2014 I was laid off from my job for no fault of my own and as I was given my severance/benefits package I remember thinking to myself I never want to be in a position where I’m not in control of my own fate. I eventually went back to working full-time, but that’s when I began to really think about my purpose and finding out why I was placed on this earth. What problems was I facing in my own world and how could create a solution to help alleviate this. The solution I came up with was somehow restructuring my parent's beauty supply store by replacing their current beauty products with all Black-owned brands. That idea was put on hold because it eventually morphed into theBOM. I wanted to create a shopping destination that made it convenient to shop with Black brands overall, not just beauty products.
Your first pop-up was in December and CRWN was fortunate enough to be a part of the launch. The set-up was absolutely beautiful and it was evident you put a lot of effort into the selection of vendors. What was your thought process and approach to creative direction and curation of the companies involved?
Thank you! I truly appreciate all the CRWN Mag support and it would not have been a success without you guys for sure. All of the brands featured in the pop-up were people that I have purchased from in the past or did avid research on. I figure if I like them other people would too. These brands have already built up strong followings of their own and how powerful would it be to have quality Black brands under one roof. I reached out to over 60 businesses and to my surprise only 12 said yes. After seeing the results of the first pop-up many of the businesses that turned me down came back asking if they could be a part of the next one. That was when I knew I had something.
What are some of the biggest challenges you've faced in entrepreneurship so far? How have you overcome them?
My biggest challenge right now is making theBOM my full-time job. This is my passion and I feel like I’m truly going to change the world with this idea but I’m still technically a moonlight entrepreneur. My full-time job is not my passion, but I still need to pay the bills. This is a constant internal battle and one that I hope will be resolved sometime soon.
Black women are the fastest-growing segment of entrepreneurs in the country. What advice would you give to our readers who are thinking about starting a "side hustle" or taking the full plunge into entrepreneurship?
Just do it! You’re always going to be fearful and since you can’t avoid it, why not just embrace it? Remember to be smart about it though and make sure you have the proper security in place if possible. This eliminated the unnecessary pressure we tend to give start-ups to produce immediate results. For me, the security was using the savings from my full-time job to fund my passion. I eventually will make the full plunge into entrepreneurship, but until then I’m planning accordingly.