The festive paraphernalia surrounding Christmas carries an undeniable charm, evoking feelings of warmth, love, and joy. However, an issue persists within this festive cheer – the lack of racial inclusivity. The representations on holiday items, from gift bags to wrapping paper, often feature the same demographic, excluding the diversity that truly defines our communities. It is this void that the Black Paper Party has taken up to fill and came to the 8th episode of the 15th season of ‘Shark Tank’ to give this vision a bigger platform. Recognizing the importance of making these festive adornments culturally relevant and inclusive, Black Paper Party stands as a beacon of representation and celebration for all. With three remarkable women steering the ship, their story unfolds as an inspiring journey toward a more inclusive and representative holiday season.
Black Paper Party: Who Are They and What Do They Do?
Amidst the complex political landscape of our time, the aftermath of the pandemic, and the profound impact following the tragic death of George Floyd, a call for change reverberated through communities worldwide. It was during these transformative moments that three extraordinary women, Madia Willis, J’Aaron Merchant, and Jasmine Hudson, recognized an opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to their community. In the face of societal challenges, they harnessed their collective expertise and personal passions to establish the Black Paper Party. This innovative initiative emerged as a response to the need for greater visibility and representation in the most fundamental aspects of celebration.
Madia Willis, a Columbia graduate and CEO of the company, discovered her passion for textiles, furthering her studies in textile design at renowned institutions such as Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design in London, Drexel University, and Philadelphia University. With a background as a textile designer at Target, she later transitioned to pivotal roles in product development and sourcing at Walmart and Five Below. It was during her tenure at Walmart that she crossed paths with J’Aaron Merchant and Jasmine Hudson. Merchant, an accomplished illustrator with extensive freelance experience, joined the company as the Chief Creative Officer, aiming to channel her passion for diverse representation through storytelling and digital media. Hudson, an entrepreneurial retail professional with a proven track record in developing, launching, and scaling major national brands and products, now serves as the Chief Merchant at Black Paper Party. Together, their collective vision has come to fruition, defining the ethos of the Black Paper Party.
What began as Black Paper Party’s initial venture into gift wrapping paper has now evolved into a diverse array of products, showcasing an extensive selection that includes stockings, ornaments, gift bags, stickers, ceramics, and even apparel. Their product lines have expanded to cater to various aspects of celebrations and cultural representation. Impressively, some of their exclusive lines are now accessible at over 6,000 retail stores, including major outlets like Target, Walmart, Dollar Store and Macy’s.
Where is Black Paper Party Now?
Even before their appearance on Shark Tank, Black Paper Party had already secured a strong foothold in the market, with many of their products consistently selling out on their website. The brand’s competitive pricing strategy adds to its allure, with gift wrapping paper available at $5 each, and a three-pack gift bag set priced at $15. Additionally, all their ornaments are priced under $20. These affordable price points not only make their products accessible but are a testament to their astute understanding of market needs and their ability to meet those needs with quality and affordability.
As Black Paper Party continues to thrive, the dynamic trio of Madia Willis, J’Aaron Merchant, and Jasmine Hudson have ambitious expansion plans. The brand is gearing up to broaden its offerings by venturing into providing culturally inclusive merchandise for various holidays and occasions, including birthdays, Valentine’s Day, and more. With their proven track record and the success of their current product line, anticipation is high that their expansion will yield similar triumphs. It’s noteworthy that Black Paper Party began its journey with the founders’ funds and support from friends and family, showcasing their commitment, integrity, and dedication. This sense has played a significant role in propelling them forward, and it sets a strong foundation for their continued growth and success in the future.