It all started in February 2019. There was a boycott of the designer brand Gucci that took place as a result of them using blackface on a sweater. To put things into context, blackface gains it’s origins from “white performers who darkened their skin with polish and cork, put on tattered clothing, and exaggerated their features to look “black.” (cnn.com) This caused an uproar in the African American community and a push to support black businesses.
Jovante and Darsha decided to participate in the “buy black” movement. After committing to the boycott they soon found it to be less empowering and more of a task. The businesses they did find where scattered online, at various flea markets, vendor festivals, and small pop-up shops. They found out it was very inconvenient to remain consistent with these black businesses. The inconvenience had a lot to do with their lack of online presence. They wanted to know the reason these companies were not on any of the available marketplace platforms. They revisited the flea markets, vendor festivals, and pop up shops to find the answer. Many of those businesses stated that they believed being online could help them but could not afford the maintenance fees of those platforms. The concerned couple began to think “how can we make this easier for the businesses and the loyal customers?” and Melanoid Exchange was born. Melanoid Exchange was built based on the needs of black businesses and to give the general public a central place to shop with them. Shortly after launching, Jovante saw the same type of disadvantages for all minority-owned businesses in his community. Whether product or service-based, all small minority businesses face a lack of customer retention for various reasons. Melanoid Exchange was made to give those businesses an online presence and give them exposure to the world.