MN Black Box: Minnesota woman is showcasing Black-owned businesses through new endeavor

Jessica Winnie has been working hard to get out orders from her MN Black Box. (Supplied)

With small businesses struggling to stay afloat nationwide, the pandemic is hitting Black-owned businesses especially hard. In our Voices for Change series, we are getting a look at how a local entrepreneur is showing support with hopes it pays off.

"We feature hot sauce, we feature cleaning products," said Jessica Winnie.

Winnie is a mother of six, an educator, a self-published poet, and now an entrepreneur.

"I came up with MN Black Box because I wanted to find a way to introduce local Minnesotans to Minnesota Black-owned businesses."

Launching this past spring inside her Minnetonka home, with the help of her daughter, Winnie is creating custom boxes that feature products from more than 50 Minnesota-based, Black-owned businesses.

"Black economics drives us," she said. "When I say us, we are a collective."

She purchases and then sells everything from books to jewelry.

"Just getting people aware of products that you might find at a Target or at a Walmart but that you should shift your spending and support small Black businesses."

In a pandemic economy, many small Black-owned businesses have been hit the hardest.

"We think it’s important to build a community to use each other as resources and network," said Winnie.

The goal is for people to "try it, like it, and purchase again and re-support so that these businesses can grow," Winnie explained.
"We have shipped to 11 other states," she added. "We do our own deliveries and so I have driven to some places in Minnesota that I haven’t been before, like Rosemount. We shipped to Sartell, Minnesota a few days ago."

Winnie only hopes to expand her reach. "We want to be able to use MN Black Box as not only consumer and products but also as a space to grow and heal together."

Winnie's boxes range from $35 to $75. She says that she hopes to open up a shop of her own one day. You can find her MN Black Box website by clicking here.