4 December 2020
Virgin Media Business awards two ambitious Black-owned startups with a digital makeover and consulting package worth £10,000 each, following a public vote.
The winning entrepreneurs – Kelly-Jade Nicholls, founder of Woke Babies, and Annie Amusu, founder of Epiphannie A – are both on a mission to improve diversity in their respective industries, children’s literature and haircare and beauty.
The announcement comes after Virgin Media Business invited the public to nominate Black-owned businesses which are stepping up, innovating, or going the extra mile to support the Black community.
The initiative, which attracted hundreds of nominations and thousands of votes after the shortlist was revealed, follows research that just 1% of VC investments go to Black-owned businesses1.
Leanna Edwards, the chair of Virgin Media’s Empower network which was behind the programme, said: “We launched this initiative to support Black-owned businesses and drive awareness of the Black business economy so we’re thrilled to announce Woke Babies and Epiphannie A as the deserving winners.
“Both businesses are making waves in their industries after less than a year of being in business. By using their online platforms to connect with communities and customers, they have enormous potential and we can’t wait to see what they get up to next!”
The search was launched during Black History Month and is part of Virgin Media’s Belonging strategy which seeks to create a culture where everyone can be themselves, achieve their potential and ensure the company represents the communities it serves.
Woke Babies is a Brixton-based subscription service that delivers children’s books and activities to homes and schools, tailored for specific age groups and levels of understanding.
Celebrity fashion stylist turned entrepreneur, Kelly, launched Woke Babies after finding that only 5% of children’s books in the UK feature a BAME protagonist2.
She said: “Representation is something that has always been important to me. Growing up, my mother made sure I was always surrounded by positive black images as a child. Wanting other children to have access to the same positive upbringing, I decided to self-publish my own black children’s book.
“While promoting the book at fairs and events and speaking to several families, it became clear that many parents struggle to find books featuring characters that their children can relate to. I wanted to come up with a way to solve this problem while also helping authors reach their audiences – which is how the idea for Woke Babies was born.
“I feel extremely grateful to be receiving this digital makeover and consulting package from Virgin Media Business, it will help me in so many ways. My advice for other Black entrepreneurs would be to take risks and put 100% into everything you do, and most importantly, don’t be afraid to change direction if you need to.”
Epiphannie A is the UK’s first black haircare and beauty price comparison site, cultivating an online community which connects BAME shoppers with brands.
The site was launched after the founder, Annie, identified a gap in the market during lockdown, noticing a lack of choice and inflated prices when buying her go-to hair product online.
Annie, who started the business from her Greenwich home, said: “We are a UK-based community where savvy black women can come to compare the best prices for their favourite hair and beauty products while discovering new products that better suit them – saving them both time and money with our specialised directory platform.
“Before lockdown, only 17% of UK BAME women bought their hair products online. As such, there is a severe lack of data on how and where this demographic shops. Not only are we making it easier for BAME shoppers to access products in a time where we rely on online shopping more than ever, we’re also offering brands and retailers unique data insights on shopping behaviours so they can better serve their community.
“I was so shocked to find out I had been chosen as a winner and feel proud that my company has resonated with so many people outside of my friends and family. The digital makeover and consulting package from Virgin Media Business will help me accelerate my website further and continue to improve the user journey.”
Notes to editors
1 BLCK VC
2 Centre for Literacy in Primary Education