After teaming up to found the Flawless by Gabrielle Union hair care line, the award-winning actress and her business partner Larry Sims recently launched “Lift As We Climb,” an initiative to uplift Black businesses and organizations. of which nearly half have closed due to effects from the coronavirus pandemic.

“We just wanted to be able to use our Black-owned company in Flawless by Gabrielle Union to lend our support by way of highlighting other Black-owned brands across our social channels and our webpages, to elevate visibility and opportunities,” Union said.

Nearly half of Black businesses have closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sims, co-founder of Flawless, spoke of his firsthand experience with Union’s commitment to uplifting others. This mission has translated from their brand partnership to the basis of this new outreach project.

“I’m in business with someone who has a massive platform obviously,” Sims said. “She basically talked the talk with even bringing me on as co-founder–you know–she lifted me up and brought me on to help support the vision of Flawless. She, in return, is also initiating this ‘Lift As We Climb’ program for everybody to be helped during this pandemic.”

“Lift As We Climb” is in partnership with Amazon and has so far featured five brands that are sold on the platform. Among those selected were nationally recognized feminine care brand The Honey Pot Company and BLK & Bold, which sells specialty coffee and teas.

“We wanted to give a variety of options,” Union said. “Just to remind people that we are everywhere. We’re literally doing everything. We didn’t want to kind of stick to beauty, we wanted to show the diversity of Black entrepreneurship and Black business ownership.”

With this initiative Union and Sims chose to support the Black Women’s Health Imperative, a national nonprofit which has fought for Black Women’s health equality since 1983. They provide feminine hygiene kits and wellness guides to marginalized communities, among other advocacy efforts. Through the Amazon Smile Foundation, 0.5% of proceeds from eligible purchases through Union’s store page will be donated to the organization.

“It’s like the oldest and it’s the only national nonprofit specifically focused on improving the health outcomes for Black women so that was a no-brainer for us,” Union said. “It’s one of one. I’m surprised more people were not all racing to get on board.”
Sims described the feeling of seeing their work come into fruition as “gratifying.” Increasing the exposure of Black-owned organizations and businesses nationally has allowed both business owners and consumers to reap benefits.

“You know people are serious about their coffee and when they saw the fact that we were highlighting of Black-owned coffee company they were so excited,” Sims said. “We’ve spoken to a couple of the people that we have highlighted in our initiative and they’ve been so gracious, it’s just great to see. Even if it’s just one person that we are turning their business to, one is better than none and we’ve definitely been able to do more.” 
Union and Sims look forward to expanding their reach with more hands-on guidance for new entrepreneurs, to help propagate and sustain Black success for generations to come.

“It starts with the upliftment and the amplification of Black-owned businesses,” Union said. “We’re hoping that Black-owned companies do the same––reach out and use whatever resources and platforms and spotlight that we have on our businesses to share the wealth. Then hopefully create this beautiful, highly productive cycle of us supporting us––you know–– really dig into that ‘FUBU,’ for us, by us, where we take care of each other.”