#HeartofRichmond series promotes small businesses

Brandy Varnado of The Black Market Group (TBM Skincare). (Photo provided by Richmond Main Street, and credited to Robin Lopez)
LauRiece Mills of The Point Playhouse. (Photo provided by Richmond Main Street)

By Kathy Chouteau

What do you get when you mix one part love with one part Richmond? Put them together and you get #HeartofRichmond, Richmond Main Street Initiative’s (RMSI) latest digital marketing initiative aimed at raising awareness about and sharing the voices of downtown Richmond businesses.

As part of the new visual storytelling series, RMSI will be spotlighting three Richmond businesses owners each week in June via an eblast with interview profiles/photos, social media outreach and more. Every week will have a unique theme, ranging from women-owned, to black-owned, to Latinx-owned and food and beverage businesses. 

“In the interviews, you see each business owner’s deep relationship with their client base; that love is the reason why they serve the community, and their commitment to bring out Richmond’s motto of ‘pride and purpose’ in their business practices,” said RMSI Executive Director Vivian Wong.

RMSI kicked off #HeartofRichmond’s first series this week featuring women-owned business owners and their businesses: Ghaliyah Roberts-Palmer of Gratitude Afrocentric Gift Shop; Brandy Varnado of The Black Market Group (TBM Skincare); and LauRiece Mills of The Point Playhouse. 

Brandy Varnado of The Black Market Group (TBM Skincare). (Photo provided by Richmond Main Street)
#HeartofRichmond series launches to promote small businesses
Ghaliyah Roberts-Palmer of Gratitude Afrocentric Gift Shop. (Photo provided by Richmond Main Street)

“I found the timing to be perfect and couldn’t have planned it better to show three strong, intelligent, driven women of color who own successful businesses in Richmond,” said Wong about the project’s launch.

“In light of all the pain and unrest, this series is such a breath of fresh air,” she said.

Equipped with funding from a Wells Fargo grant, the nonprofit’s #HeartofRichmond digital marketing initiative has been a true collaborative effort. RMSI Project Manager, Ronnie Mills—a Richmond native—interviewed the featured business owners; and RMSI Programs & Communications Manager Alicia Gallo wrote the business profiles and coordinated the details.

As shelter-in-place orders are eased and retail businesses begin to welcome customers back through their doors, through #HeartofRichmond, RMSI aims to usher in a return to a new normal for business owners reeling from the pandemic’s negative economic impact.

“Given our funding amount and our staff time…it’s not about doing everything haphazardly, it’s about doing a few things well. Because, [if] we can highlight a few businesses really well, then people who come to the district and shops will discover other businesses nearby,” said Wong.

“We are small but our voices are mighty,” said Wong. “Please support your local businesses and fall in love with Richmond.”

There are many ways to check out RMSI’s #HeartofRichmond series. Read it on RMSI’s blog; watch the series playlist on YouTube and Facebook; or view it on the nonprofit’s other social media channels.