A dozen minority-owned small businesses were just awarded Power Forward Grants.
The Celtics teamed up with Vistaprint and the NAACP to gift each winner $25,000 along with marketing assistance. It’s all part of a social justice initiative.
The grants went to a variety of local businesses including Dorchester-based Coils to Locs, a wig business started by Dianne Austin.
Austin’s line was inspired by personal experience. Diagnosed with cancer in 2015, Austin was given a prescription for a wig but said she couldn’t find one that reflected her look.
“I was armed with my prescription,” Austin said. “(I) went to several cancer center boutiques at major hospitals here in Boston, and I was looking for a wig like my tightly coiled hair. What I found was just straight-haired wigs.”
Disheartened to discover that lack of representation, she took action. In 2019, she launched her business geared towards women with medical hair loss.
“People can underestimate how important it is to have a wig that looks like you, that reflects your identity,” she said. “A wig is not a vanity product for someone who has medical hair loss.”
Austin said the Power Forward grant couldn’t come at a better time. It will not only help her expand her line, but she said it will also help her keep up with demand.
“It’s huge for us because it’s going to help us actually build out our online store,” Austin said. “There are so many women who potentially could use these wigs. Unfortunately, one in three black women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.”
The Celtics have countless community outreach programs, team president Rich Gotham said he hopes this one has a ripple effect.
“We all know that small businesses have been hit disproportionately hard during the pandemic and they need help,” he said. “Hopefully in helping those small businesses, we’re also helping those communities that they’re in.”
Minority business owners can still apply for a Power Forward grant. They will continue to be awarded on a rolling basis.
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