Supporting Black owned Businesses.

Shea.d, a purposeful way to find and engage black-owned businesses. By showcasing carefully curated information about these businesses and their owners, we build familiarity, before any engagement.


Emphasizing all the context.

Lists are simply not enough. Although important, we’ve found listings of businesses insufficient in driving true engagement.

Moving beyond seasonal engagement. We’ve observed that traffic at black-owned businesses increases during certain occasions, like Black History Month. However, this interest doesn’t persist much longer afterwards.


According to a 12-month graph from Google Trends for the U.S., the search term “Black owned” reached a value of 100 (the peak popularity for a term) during the May 31 to June 6, 2020 period (George Floyd protests). Since then, the interest over time for the search term has largely been on a downward trend, with a few spikes in June and July.

How can businesses build against situational engagement? Most owners have expressed desire to build long-term relationships. So how do we create opportunities for people to become invested in businesses they find? How do we move beyond simply creating a repository of businesses to be shared? 


True motivation, from within.

A theory on motivation suggests that people can become self-determined when their needs for competence, relatedness, and autonomy are fulfilled. The likelihood of people adopting a new behavior of supporting black businesses could be underpinned by how much these psychological needs are satisfied. This theory represents the foundations of Shea’d.


providing autonomy


Shea.d is designed to consistently spotlight businesses regardless of how they are discovered. Businesses are at the heart of Shea.d, whether through direct listing or owner stories. We stay focused. A sense of control and agency is important to ensure that motivations are more intrinsic and not solely driven by trends or intrusive prompts.


ensuring competence


To emphasize convenience within the platform, Shea.d carefully tailors the types of businesses shown and its distance. We typically defer only to nearby businesses. More importantly, we celebrate wins. It is crucial to emphasize the value that folks provide in frequenting black-owned businesses.


emphasizing relatedness

Consistently relatable.

Shea.d deliberately prioritizes owners and their stories within the platform. Information about owners is emphasized because we believe this will naturally create more long-lasting engagement. In showcasing an owners' story, we humanize the platform and create a network for other black owners to learn from and be inspired by.



Since launch, Shea.d has generated over 1000 app downloads, with a substantial chunk of these users spending time reading stories about owners. I was fortunate to be part of this project in its infancy. I’m no longer involved, but I’m pleased to continue to watch its growth and outreach.


“Excellent design, easy to use, great resource! Not only is the app both beautiful and helpful, it’s also important. In the past few decades, gentrification has destroyed countless black-owned businesses and communities in the Bay Area. This app makes it easier to discover and support the businesses and communities that made people want to move to the Bay Area in the first place.

Jason Y. Cai
App Store review