How 'Black Owned Toronto' went from an Instagram page to opening its first store


TORONTO -- It’s been a whirlwind year for Kerin John since she created the “Black Owned Toronto” Instagram page last year.

Initially, it was just an inviting online platform to promote Black-owned businesses in the city. “My initial goal was to have a social media directory. I definitely didn’t know it was going to get so popular so quickly,” she told CTV’s Your Morning on Tuesday.

But as more and more entrepreneurs from across the country asked to be included, it grew into “Black Owned Canada” – a nation-wide online directory boasting hundreds of products from clothing and grooming, to snacks and skincare, to stationery and accessories.

And last week, John hit another milestone: opening up a physical store in the Toronto area with everything under one roof.

“I knew it was much needed for our community, so I just went for it. And it’s been amazing so far,” John said, adding that she’s “super grateful” at how far her idea has gone.

One of the goals of the store in Scarborough Town Centre is to continue her goal of giving exposure and much-needed shelf space to Black-owned products. According to a study by the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce, 34 per cent of participants started their businesses to fill a gap in the market; and what was most important to them was getting advertising and promotion.