Meet This Entrepreneur Who Grew Her Business With Pop-Up Markets


By Ryan Velez

As entrepreneurs look to grow their businesses, one major hurdle is the fact that getting the real estate to work in can be very difficult, especially if one is already behind the 8-ball financially. This is part of the reason why pop-up markets are increasingly growing in popularity as a means to boost profits while reaching new audiences. Black Enterprise recently sat down with Selma Idris, CEO of The Brown Crayon Project and a veteran vendor of pop-up shops like The Black Owned Market, to talk about how these temporary spaces have helped her businesses.

The Brown Crayon Project is more than a simple beauty company. “We provide parents and caregivers with soulful, safe, and effective products to combat everyday kid things like dry skin, eczema, dry hair, and tangled locks. What makes The Brown Crayon Project unique is our commitment to nurture and nourish the ego of children of the diaspora. Both our products and messaging focus on enhancing (not altering) the beauty of our children. We work with physicians, families, scientists, authors, children, artists, museums, and community organizations to craft, deliver, and promote products and messaging that positively impact the physical and emotional health of our kids,” Idris explains.

It was her second year of business when Idris started using pop-up shops to her benefit. “We spent our first year making sure we built a system that can thrive under the pressure and demands that retail presents while accumulating the leverage necessary to seek more favorable terms with retailers and distributors. My background is in verbal and visual identity development and I’ve seen a lot of folks fail when they went retail. That experience has made me cautious. With the availability of fast, low-cost, automated fulfillment, we are able to sell directly to our customers and take our growth into our own hands a bit.

But nothing can replace human interaction. Shops like The Black-Owned Market (BOM) allow small businesses like mine the opportunity to speak directly to our customers, answer questions, listen to feedback, hear personal stories and see facial expressions and real-time reactions to our products. I file it all under market research and consumer-testing activities that my former and much larger clients spent beaucoup money on. In addition to research, press, and lovely visits from loyal customers, pop-up shops have proven to be an invaluable, grass-roots way to establish the presence of our brand and garner the necessary customer recognition, support, and loyalty, aka leverage, to help negotiate favorable retail terms and ensure the brand’s success.”