Cookies and crossword puzzles. Children’s books and hair products. Fitness apps and power bowties. Those were just a few of the products visitors saw as they ventured through our Black-Owned Business Vendor Fair this month. More than 400 team members attended the event at Target Plaza Commons in Minneapolis to network, enjoy multicultural food and music, and see and sample products and services from local entrepreneurs.
The fair was hosted by Target’s African American Business Council (AABC) as part of a series of Black History Month events. The council supports career development and advocacy to enrich our team’s inclusive culture. Members often share insights with our planning teams to help the business, and hosts community engagement activities throughout the year. Ahead of the celebrations, a cross-functional planning committee was formed, including members from our merchandising, marketing, product design & development, localization and supplier diversity teams.
“The idea for the fair was a light bulb moment,” says Katonya Strickland, events lead. “We were already planning a black economics forum for the team, and we wanted to expand the idea to support the community and give diverse suppliers some exposure.” Target’s commitment to working with diverse suppliers and vendors is one important way we bring our guests products and services that truly resonate.
As preparations got underway, vendor recommendations came pouring in from across the team, and the lineup came together. “There’s plenty of appetite to support local businesses, but it can be so hard to find them,” says Melanie Gatewood, merchandise lead. “This event brought 16 vendors together in one place where our team members could come and learn about several black-owned businesses, many based in Minnesota.”
Some had already worked with Target, and others came to meet our teams for the first time. A few of the exhibitors were former Target team members who started their own businesses—among them, Renay Dossman of Fat Chance Sandwich Shop, who collaborated on the event menu, and James Jones of Spark DJ, who supplied the music.
The mix was electric. “There was so much great energy in the room that day, so much culture and local pride,” Melanie says. All throughout the space, vendors drew in curious viewers with elaborate displays, samples and interactive games to showcase their products.
“It was inspiring to not only see the great employment culture Target has built, but to meet with category representatives and share our product attributes,” says Courtney Adeleye, founder and CEO of The Mane Choice, which offers a line of hair products at Target now. Guests to her booth could spin a wheel and win samples of several hair care products.
“It was a great event, and we’re already thinking about how we might do more like this in the future, because it’s so important for our team to see what’s out there,” says Erika Telkamp, who led the Black Owned Business Vendor Fair event. “Having exposure to up-and-coming businesses is the only way we can land on the right mix of products and services for guests.”
Want to hear more about the work our business councils and team member networks do? Check out diversity & inclusion at Target.
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