COLORADO SPRINGS — This Black Friday was dubbed Black-owned Friday — a campaign launched by rapper T-Pain to encourage people on the busiest shopping day of the year to support Black-owned businesses.

“We’re just really excited to bring out our product, but also let everybody else know there is a strong community of black-owned makers [and] businesses here in Colorado Springs,” said Shauna Sankey, owner and founder of Black Girl Salsa.

Many of these businesses are still an online-only shop, but their creativity is helping drive them forward. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it forced many businesses to shut their doors. For others, it served to fuel this creativity.

“During the pandemic they had modified my schedule and I was working 4 days on, 7 days off and so during that time is when Black Girl Salsa was born,” Sankey said.

Sankey said that she always loved making salsa, and the pandemic encouraged her to perfect her craft. But this business isn’t just a proud Black-owned business. Sankey said that family played a huge role in its creation.

“My husband’s been the taste-tester…,” Sankey said. “…my kids and my nieces and nephews one day were having a rap battle in the back room and all I heard is ‘gotta get your Black Girl Salsa, ay, gotta get your Black Girl Salsa’. So that’s how we came up with the name.”

You can find Black Girl Salsa products in a few shops and cafes in downtown Colorado Springs. You can also access her Facebook page here.

If you were to head towards Nevada Avenue, you’d find The Edge, where another Black-owned business – Tree Pose Cooperative – which houses some of their candles and jewelry. Co-owners and husband and wife team took the COVID-19 pandemic to pause and reassess their business strategy.

“We started finding out about cooperative business and that was a much better fit for what we envisioned,” said Janerio Hardy, co-owner of Tree Pose Cooperative. “And so we just took the name Tree Pose from our yoga practice that we were doing when our kids were really small. And so we said this is a really meaningful name to us so let’s just incorporate that into the business.”

The cooperative business strategy like this one allowed them to work with others who they could benefit from and could return the favor to others.

Black-owned Friday, the Tree Pose Cooperative co-owners said, helps give the community, not only a chance to support them, but also an opportunity to be an inspiration to others who want to start a business themselves.

Fawna Charles, co-owner of Tree Pose Cooperative, also noted that she hopes she can be an inspiration to her kids as well.

“They see me going out there trying to put my best foot forward selling meaningful products to people who actually enjoy them. And even if they don’t decide to take this business model that we have, perhaps they’ll come up with their own inspiration,” Charles said.

You can find Tree Pose Cooperative’s Facebook page here.