For the second edition of The Dream Big Project, the retailer has handpicked select entrepreneurs as “Small Business Heroes” to help grow their businesses ahead of Small Business Saturday and the upcoming holiday shopping season.
The recipients — Solise White and Evita Colon, founders of A Concrete Rose Book Bar, which is currently a digital platform promoting Black writers, as well as Omar Tate and Cybille St. Aude-Tate, founders of the Honeysuckle Community Center, a Philadelphia-based food pop-up — will each receive a $10,000 grant and a digital Times Square billboard ad, featuring the emerging businesses’ content. Marketing materials from both start-ups will be featured across the Express web site, social media channels and other national Express advertisements.
“Small businesses employ 47 percent of all U.S. workers, and since the pandemic [started], more than 100,000 small businesses have closed,” Sara Tervo, Express executive vice president and chief marketing officer, told WWD. “The dreams of the Express community have been impacted and challenged and we wanted to help. We chose our Small Business Heroes for their passion, confidence and dedication to bringing positive change to their local communities.”
In a joint statement, White and Colon of A Concrete Rose Book Bar called the award “a humbling feat.”
“This puts us in alignment with the reason we named our business A Concrete Rose: despite all of the challenges we faced, we continue to grow and blossom,” the duo said.
The pair said they plan use the grant money to apply for licenses and to pay for construction expenses in the hopes of opening a physical bookstore and wine bar in Lancaster, Pa., one that promotes Black voices, along with their favorite wines.
Meanwhile, Omar Tate and his wife Cybille are planning to use the funds to turn Honeysuckle Community Center, their pop-up dinner series, into a permanent brick-and-mortar venue in West Philadelphia.
“We’re excited to get things rolling, to finally be able to break ground and we feel beyond blessed that so many folks from all over are supporting us in more ways than one,” Omar said. “Honeysuckle has always been about the community and for the community, so every little cent counts toward a larger picture of what we envision for not only our Philly community, but for marginalized communities everywhere.”
Express launched the Dream Big Project last September during New York Fashion Week in an effort to help various organizations. The first installment supported GoFundMe’s Small Business Relief Fund. Express has pledged to continue helping a new cause each quarter.
Express will also match in-store and online donations, up to $50,000, starting on Small Business Saturday on Nov. 28, through Giving Tuesday, which is the following Tuesday, Dec. 1.