From Hashtag to Powerhouse: Jae’da Turner’s Black Owned Bos. Journey

Meet Jae’da Turner, the founder and CEO of Black Owned Bos. (BOB), a mission-driven shop platform that has united over 1,000 emerging Black-owned businesses.

Jae’da, a native Bostonian, launched Black Owned Bos. with a mission to curate and showcase an array of Black-owned businesses for consumers. What began as a modest social media presence has since blossomed into a booming shopping hub, catalyzed by the racial awakening of 2020.

As BOB approaches its fifth anniversary this summer, Turner’s unique perspective on Black businesses offers invaluable insights into the challenges and accomplishments of minority-owned businesses. TJae’da continues to make waves in her community through initiatives like the annual “Buy Black. Buy Local.” marketplace and the Retail Incubation Program. These efforts have not only increased visibility for Black-owned businesses but have also addressed long-standing barriers to entry, resulting in soaring revenue growth for many local entrepreneurs, particularly women of color.

Check out our full interview with Jae’da Turner below!

Jae'da Turner
Jae’da Turner

What initially inspired you to start Black Owned Bos. and how has it evolved since its inception?

Jae’da Turner: As a Boston native and entrepreneur, I wanted to be able to create a platform that lifted others through my work.

It initially started as a creative outlet to create content and spotlight local Black-owned brands I had grown to know and love on Instagram. It transformed into discovery and building a network as the ecosystem and my own exposure grew.

Then, the notion of a platform took flight in various ways, from a digital directory to help folks expand where they think about spending their dollars to hosting in-person retail opportunities such as pop-ups and vendor marketplaces.

The goal with all activations was to make a business that creates space for all sales and marketing opportunities. The way that manifested in execution was fluid and remains so. We offer a finite set of services, but this remains fluid.

Can you give us a behind-the-scenes look at a day in your life and what keeps you motivated?

Jae’da Turner: I love this work, as my days and weeks look so different. As a program manager, a day in my life means supporting local small businesses through crowdfund coaching and program management. It means interacting with businesses, sending emails, making coaching calls, etc.

I love learning and connecting so much that I often attend small business events to learn and network. It can also look like lifting and carrying event equipment, preparing for an upcoming marketplace for Black Owned Bos., project management, admin work, creating content, managerial tasks at the shop, and so much more.

I am always motivated by what folks in my community are doing to grow. I know more people need to know about the different stories and families these businesses represent and for everyone to know that Boston has a vibrant Black business ecosystem.

Looking back, how significant was the impact of the 2020 racial awakening on the growth of Black Owned Bos.?

Jae’da Turner: 2020 was very significant for the business. With a global pandemic and a spotlight on racial inequities, many conversations were being had about how individuals and institutions were being held accountable. There was pressure for everyone to look at their current role, privilege, and responsibility and, in turn, to act.

This was short-lived for some, but it did spur action that had ripple effects on spending. Our social media platform grew from about 3,000 to 10k in a matter of weeks. We have nurtured this community, but the growth has never been so concentrated, which is a great reflection of that impact.

Can you share some of the challenges you faced while developing Black Owned Bos. into a thriving ecosystem for Black-owned businesses?

Jae’da Turner: The biggest challenge has always been finding the balance between doing good and doing business. Five years later, we have gotten a better grasp on that balance, but as a purpose-driven for-profit business, that approach is more challenging from the outside. We are not a charity or a nonprofit. It is a business that provides services and goods and is a unique approach. It requires a great deal of education.

What role has social media played in the development and expansion of your business network?

Jae’da Turner: Social media has played a very critical role. The business started on Instagram, and to this day uses social media as a powerful tool for marketing, discovery, and engagement.

How do you select and support the businesses that join the Black Owned Bos. network?

Jae’da Turner: Black Owned Bos. represents an informal network. We have a directory that we use as a tool for the business, which provides other businesses with the option to opt in. Businesses self-identify and submit their information to be published in the directory. Any vendor or marketplace that we host has a public application. Businesses apply to participate and we curate the marketplace to create a diverse mix of products that anyone can come attend and shop.

The Bos. shop products are sourced through the network of businesses that we have had the opportunity to connect with through vending events and general research.

Jae'da Turner
Jae’da Turner

Could you tell us more about the “Buy Black. Buy Local.” marketplace and its impact on the community?

Jae’da Turner: That was the name of a specific holiday marketplace for 2023. We held it at a cafe for a few Saturdays leading up to Christmas, with a lot of positive reception from the local community.

We may roll it out as a signature recurrence because of how successful it has been, however we’re still exploring this as it was just one event.

What partnerships have been most significant in advancing the mission of Black Owned Bos.? And how did these partnerships come about?

Jae’da Turner: Guiding and maintaining a network has been critical to the growth of the business. From small businesses to community organizers, city and state officials, as well as peers.

Our partnership with WS Development has been a powerful asset, and they have been great partners since 2020. We hosted our first marketplace with them in August 2020. My cousin, a multi-hyphenate entrepreneur, had been spearheading an indoor marketplace for Black businesses and provided the introduction as she began her transition into owning her current business, Emerald City Plant Shop. She provided the connection for Black Owned Bos. to become a partner and began producing this marketplace with WS.

From there, there was a ripple effect of opportunities.

The Retail Incubation Program sounds like a game-changer. Can you explain how it works and highlight one of its success stories?

Jae’da Turner: For some micro or small business owners, exclusively, vending at markets or online works for them. Others have decided they want to have their own space, but having a physical space is a completely new experience. The retail landscape has been changing, and there are more opportunities than ever to try something new. However, with the rising cost of commercial rent and start-up costs, testing the market can be a challenge for some and impossible for others.

The Shift Space located at Bow Market was created to provide a low-risk, high-support environment for sustained success in an effort to close the opportunity gap for Black-owned businesses.

The space is crafted as a launchpad for emerging brands with the support of our partners. While a physical space is a core component of the program, the wrap-around services provided during the incubation trial period are what is essential to its success.

This controlled environment allows businesses to test out brick-and-mortar retail, expand their network, develop their business acumen, and gain exposure through various Black Owned Bos. direct business services.

The Shift Space is currently closed as of August 2023 and is no longer accepting new clients at this time.

The Little Cocoa Bean Co. and House of Art and Craft are great examples of businesses that used the space as a testing ground and have transitioned to their own permanent brick-and-mortar space.

Jae'da Turner
Jae’da Turner

As a leader, what are the core values that guide your decision-making process?

Jae’da Turner: Genuine connections, doing the best I can, and saying no to things that don’t fit my path, purpose, passion, and profit. You can’t have a business without it.

With the 5-year anniversary of Black Owned Bos. approaching, what future initiatives can we look forward to?

Jae’da Turner: The first five years have really felt like the building phase. Building a community, building a vendor and partner network, building systems that work, etc.

We are looking into scaling up and growing the reach of our retail arm, the Bos. Shop in-store and online with our personal and corporate gifting offerings to ensure the perpetuity of the brand and the business.

What advice would you give to young Black entrepreneurs starting out today?

Jae’da Turner: Focus on why you’re starting a business. If you’re passionate about something and you want to monetize it, make sure you focus on the things that bring you joy as you grow. To grow, you will need to grow your team of people who have the skillset and capacity to do the rest.

You can’t scale attempting to do everything. You make a lot of avoidable mistakes trying to do so.

Is there a specific mantra, quote, or affirmation that you hold close to your heart?

Jae’da Turner: “Keep showing up.” It’s a phrase my mom always says, but it is very powerful. You can’t make a difference or a movement without being present.

Show up in whatever way you can in whatever season you’re in. That may look different, but you have to keep showing up to keep moving forward.

Be sure to follow Jae’da Turner and Black Owned Bos online at:

Published in Featured Articles, Featured Women
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Emily Sprinkle, also known as Emma Loggins, is a designer, marketer, blogger, and speaker. She is the Editor-In-Chief for Women's Business Daily where she pulls from her experience as the CEO and Director of Strategy for Excite Creative Studios, where she specializes in web development, UI/UX design, social media marketing, and overall strategy for her clients.

Emily has also written for CNN, Autotrader, The Guardian, and is also the Editor-In-Chief for the geek lifestyle site