The past year we’ve seen many beloved indie businesses that relied on in-person transactions shutter their windows due to COVID-19 — this has been a tragic blow not only to the people behind each business, but also to the communities that house and support them. Insert Phoebe Tagoe, a trailblazing tech entrepreneur who leveraged her unique perspective into the creation of Sohlo.
In conversion with Phoebe in Episode 06 of Thriver Podcast, we learn about how, even in unprecedented moments, it’s possible to spearhead creative tech solutions that support businesses and inspire others to invest in their communities. Here’s why she’s amazing.
When Phoebe was in her early 20s, she saw a friend losing a scheduled makeup artist last minute on prom night. “Prom for a young girl is everything,” Phoebe says. “We were trying to rack our brains, trying to find [an artist] who does makeup who’s actually near us,” she says. It shouldn’t be this difficult to find someone, she thought, especially when she knew first-hand that in every community there are many talented people providing freelance services. This is when the idea for Sohlo really started to grow in Phoebe’s mind. Having launched last year, Sohlo now connects people with home-based and mobile beauty talent near them. The platform houses talent specializing in everything hair and beauty, allowing clients to find them via an easily-navigable platform.
It’s no secret by now that diversity drives growth — a greater number of employees from intersectional ethnicities within a company makes for an environment that is more accepting of creative ideas. In tech, however, women are few and far between: Pinterest made headlines a few years ago for employing the most women of colour in executive roles, but even then this number sat at just 8% of all employees. This is something that contributed to Phoebe’s biggest challenges in creating Sohlo. When searching for supporting software engineers, “one of the biggest problems is getting someone to relate to this problem.” With numbers like 8%, the challenge is finding someone who not only relates, but believes in Sohlo and is more willing to be on board long term.“One of the biggest problems is getting someone to relate to this problem.”
The service providers Sohlo works with are from diverse backgrounds. Many have experienced adversity when applying for bank loans and/or renting retail spaces. This is where Sohlo shines, empowering at-home and mobile businesses by connecting them to clients in a far more efficient way than word of mouth or hashtag-surfing.
Ways you can support local businesses
One of the best ways to support local is by consuming local, but given the current conditions of 2021 this might not always be feasible. Support can look like buying gift cards for various friends, promoting small businesses on your social media, purchasing merch with the business’s logo on it, and even giving all your favourite stores a follow on Instagram. And make sure to leave a review if you had a positive experience!
Supporting communities looks different for everybody, but at its core, this support is all about empowering and encouraging. For more ways to support Black-owned businesses and Black talent, have a look through Official Black Wall Street, the largest #BlackOwned business discovery app that helps you search and discover thousands of Black-owned businesses near you. Also have a look at Support Black Art, an organization that works for the exposure of Black artists no matter where they are in the world. And finally, if you’re in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), and looking to get beautified, visit Sohlo to find your incredible local talent.
Follow Thriver Podcast to keep up with the latest in what drives a thriving workplace culture and check out our post on the many resources out there to help you start supporting Black-owned businesses today.