This week marks the official kickoff to the holiday shopping season, meaning millions of Americans will begin that month-long quest to find the perfect gifts for family and friends. Some shoppers enjoy the challenge and seek out the best deals, even if it means spending the night on a folding chair outside a big retailer on Black Friday. Others take pleasure in avoiding the crowds at all costs and shop exclusively online (hello, free shipping!). And then there are those among us who procrastinate and end up at the mall on Christmas Eve desperately seeking gift inspiration and end up buying socks (again).
Regardless of what camp you fall into, chances are you will be spending some of your hard-earned money this season on gifts. In fact, the National Retail Foundation anticipates Americans will spend upwards of $678 billion this year on holiday gifts, and that’s not even including money spent on cars, gas and restaurants.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if a large portion of that rather sizeable chunk of money went to women-owned businesses and those who support them? Keep in mind that for many direct-to-consumer businesses, this is the most critical time of the year in terms of sales. As entrepreneurs and diversity champions, let’s use the power of the purse to help lift-up and support our network of women-owned businesses and help them thrive -- this holiday season and on into the new year.
In that spirit, we challenge you to follow these four rules this holiday season:
1. Shop Small
Commit to doing most of your holiday shopping at small, locally-owned businesses and you’ll not only help those businesses individually, but you’ll be contributing to the overall economic health of your neighborhood and community. Approximately 45 percent of small businesses are owned and operated by women, and women-owned small businesses in particular have been contributing some of the highest levels of employment growth. Translation: women-owned firms are creating jobs in your community. Why not show them some extra love?
This Saturday is a great time to start. Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is our favorite shopping day – Small Business Saturday! Pioneered by American Express, the “Shop Small” movement encourages shoppers to support local businesses and provides businesses the resources to promote themselves. (Tip: Use the Shop Small Map to find ways to "Shop Small" near you.)
While there are many economic and societal benefits to supporting small businesses, there’s also this added bonus – you’re likely to find the most unique and interesting gifts.
2. Look for the Women Owned Logo
Women-owned businesses supply an incredible range of products sold in retail stores and online, but there’s only one standard way to identify them – the Women Owned logo. Any product that bears the Women Owned logo is produced by a company that is owned and operated by a woman or women, as certified by WBENC in the United States and WEConnect International globally.
Look for the logo on products and labels at places you already shop, like Walmart and CVS, or visit our directory of amazing Women Owned businesses at WomenOwnedLogo.com to find where else you can buy in stores and online.
3. ACTIntentionally - Support Those Who Support Women-Owned Businesses
In addition to shopping at women-owned businesses, you can also help show your support for women entrepreneurs by frequenting those businesses who are dedicated to supplier diversity and women’s business development overall. The commitment, engagement and energy of WBENC’s Corporate Members is a huge part of what makes our mission to fuel economic growth for women possible. Our Corporate Members also sponsor countless educational opportunities and resources that help WBEs grow and succeed.
To help us and our network show appreciation for our Corporate Members, WBENC launched the ACTIntentionally campaign and website. Visit ActIntentionally.com to view all of the ways you can support those who support women-owned businesses.
4. Pay it Forward
It can be easy to get caught up in the holiday hubbub, but be sure not to neglect the spirit of the holidays -- generosity and kindness. Add a family in need to your holiday list, commit to some volunteering or mentoring, or pick a charity for your family to contribute to in lieu of gifts.
To continue to support women in business, look for charities that help aspiring women entrepreneurs and students by providing capital, grants or education opportunities, or help the NextGen of women-owned businesses by supporting education, mentorship and leadership development opportunities for girls and teens.
If we all follow these four shopping rules, we’ll ensure women-owned businesses get their well-earned piece of the economic pie this season, and set them up for a successful start to 2018.