Queen City News

MercEmpower program promotes diversity in downtown Rock Hill

ROCK HILL, S.C. – The Mercantile is kicking off a new program for black women entrepreneurs called, MercEmpower. 

Owner Brittany Kelly said after the many George Floyd and Breanna Taylor protests, she wanted to do more to support black owned businesses. 

“I just wanted to do more. We can march all day long, but that’s ultimately not impacting in anyway,” she said. “I just felt like what can I do. How can I use our store?”

Kelly and her husband decided to create a store, in their store. 

The 12 by 8 space has windows and areas to display a generous amount of merchandise. Kelly said she received more than a hundred entries, but this go around, Ayesha Murphy of Beary Sensitive got the top spot. 

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Murphy said she heard about the program from her sister and decided to go for it. 

“I applied. Read more about it. Then luckily I was selected… and upon meeting Brittany and her husband, it just took off from there.”

Not only is the program free for these entrepreneurs, but Kelly and her husband serve as mentors.

They teach about finances, branding and overall business management. 

Murphy admitted she’s encountered endless challenges maintaining her business, and she believes being black owned can sometimes be the issue. 

“We aren’t financed in the same way that other companies are able to. I think that a lot of times that’s what hinders us from really getting out there and being able to be as forward and vocal as other businesses are, because of funding.”

Beary Sensitive will be displayed in The Mercantile for three months until a new business owner is choosen. 

The program is open for women between the ages of 18 and 40. For more information about the program or how you can get involved, email: info@cdmercantile.com.