GRABB grants help area Black businesses navigate COVID-19

According to Jovan Naves, owner of Bare All LLC, receiving a Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses (GRABB) Relief and Resilience grant not only kept the local business afloat but allowed them to purchase new equipment. Originating as a clothing line in Detroit, Bare All has expanded to operate its own screen-print plant since moving to Grand Rapids, Naves’ hometown. The plant not only prints original silk screen designs on the Bare All clothing line but has done apparel printing for a wide range of commercial clients including Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, Grand Rapids Public Schools and the Grand Rapids Police Department.

“We basically design everyday lifestyle wear, but we want it to represent Michigan, Grand Rapids and Black-owned urban businesses,” Naves says.  “Mostly everything we do, we do in-house. We give people something they can take pride in.”

Bare All takes its commitment to community seriously. In addition to providing jobs, Naves and his staff have mentored 15 youths to-date, not only sharing the ins and outs of a clothing business but also nurturing entrepreneurship and business connections that will serve them no matter what kind of business they’d like to start.

“We bring in students that want to learn screen printing, high school students or recent grads and pay them,” Naves says. “We teach them the due diligence of what happens in a real business.”

Other GRABB Relief and Resilience Grant recipients include B.Creativ Confections, Creative Carvings, Dolly's Delights, Lady Love by James Price, Life Addicts Studio, Nexus Power and DataCom Inc., PJDADJ Sound & Entertainment LLC, Shine Like Mine and Sitting Pretty of Michigan, LLC. Comcast donated $25,000 for distribution.

Self-described as an economic and business development organization that empowers Black entrepreneurs to launch, survive, sustain and grow their businesses, GRABB works to foster an economy that creates prosperity and supports the revitalization of predominantly Black neighborhoods. The GRABB Relief and Resilience Fund was specifically for Black entrepreneurs and business owners impacted by COVID-19’s on-going business interruptions and limitations. The grants support for-profit businesses that were unable to access adequate funding through the COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loans, and other traditional forms of business capital resources. 

“Many of the COVID-19 impacted businesses in Grand Rapids are small family operations that haven’t been successful accessing traditional sources of capital,” said Jamiel Robinson, GRABB’s founder, in an interview with Rapid Growth Media in November 2020. “The funding from Comcast for direct support of our Relief and Resilience Fund is timely. Along with our other program offerings, this support will help Black businesses stay afloat and survive these difficult times while providing some breathing room to refocus and forge forward through this uncertainty.” 

Black businesses had difficulties accessing the first round of federal funds providing relief to small businesses because, for many, the financial institutions they did business with were not among those chosen to make loans available.

In addition to selling via its webstore, Bare All Clothing has held pop-up markets in Detroit, Cleveland and Grand Rapids. COVID-19 has put the damper on the pop-up scene, but Naves is excited about getting back into it.

“Bare All turns eight in April and I turn 30 in April so we'll have something. We’re waiting to see what COVID allows us to do,” he says. “We really appreciate the grant and all of the favor we’ve gotten from the city of Grand Rapids. We are continuing to grow strong.”

Written by Estelle Slootmaker, Development News Editor
Photos by Bird+Bird Studio courtesy of Bare All Clothing
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