Sponsored by Walmart
When Jasmine Hudson, J'Aaron Merchant and Madia Willis joined forces, the goal was clear: Create party goods for Black people. "For me growing up, if it didn’t look like us it wasn’t coming in the house,” says Merchant. Unfortunately, she faced a harsh reality once she reached adulthood. “There’s no representation for us as far as celebration and packaging, so we wanted to solve that problem. When you go into your local retailer you should be able to see products that reflect you as well. We saw the problem and we were like fine, we’ll do it’.” And they did. Whether it’s wrapping paper, cards, or stickers, you can find it all at Black Paper Party, a party goods brand that features African Americans — and celebrates our culture.
EBONY, in collaboration with Walmart, is excited to present SheEO, an ongoing series that profiles Walmart’s Black women business partners. Hosted by actress/producer/entrepreneur Marsai Martin, each episode of SheEO offers an honest conversation with an industry trailblazer. From grappling with self-doubt to scrambling for information, SheEO tells the very personal journey of what it means to be a Black woman and CEO.
This episode of SheEO features a candid discussion with the founders of Black Paper Party. The business partners dive into everything from their motivation to scaling their brand to what’s next. “I call this chapter the big girl pants,” says Willis. “We’re at the point where we’re having to make really big strategic decisions for the direction for the company, where we’re not just in survival mode anymore.”
Noting that the company has received an amazing response from consumers is an understatement.
“We get so many customer emails and comments and even blog posts that are made about us and all of it is centered around ‘I finally see me’,” adds Hudson. “And they’ll post their sons and daughters with the stocking from Walmart this holiday season. It really hits us right in the heart.”
Though their entrepreneurial journey has been filled with challenges, the founders are happy to live in their purpose and create a change for the Black community. Their advice to aspiring business owners? Focus on your passion. “If you show up for your gifts, your gifts will show up for you,” says Merchant.
Listen to Madia, Jae, and Jasmine’s episode of SheEO.