Black Paper Party was created by three colleagues who believed the holidays lacked representation.

In 2019, Madia Willis, Jasmine Hudson, and J’Aaron Merchant met while working at the Walmart’s headquarters in Arkansas, CNN reported. After garnering a friendship, they realized they all loved Christmas decor. They also noticed something was missing from many holiday furnishing stores and departments, characters that looked like them. One day, a lunch conversation turned into a business meeting when they began brainstorming how to combine their talents to create an inclusive business that makes the Black community feel seen.

This discussion led to them initially selling one-of-a-kind Christmas gift wrapping paper and tree ornaments with Black figures on them through Zazzle, an online marketplace. After receiving positive feedback and requests for new releases from customers who purchased their product, they knew it was just the beginning of their entrepreneurship journey.

“We knew we had something good going,” Merchant said.

When racial tension in America hit an all-time following the death of George Floyd in 2020, companies were looking to support Black Lives Matter by investing in small and large black-owned businesses. The partners knew this was the perfect time for their business to shine and flourish since their target audience is Black Americans and they provided quality goods that embody “the spirit of inclusivity and authenticity.”

“We were like, ‘Alright, this is the time for us to put our brains together and see what we can come up with,'” Willis said.

The team established the Black Paper Party to design and manufacture products that showcase Black families. Their award-winning illustrations offer customer items like ornaments, wrapping paper, stockings, gift bags, cards and T-shirts. The characters reflect cultural aspects and physical attributes like distinct facial features curly hair textures and hairstyles.

“These are not your average characters painted brown,” Hudson told CNN. “These characters have the nuanced features of the Black diaspora, and they are culturally representative.”

Willis, Hudson, and Merchant’s business became a hot commodity, which allowed them to forge great partnerships for expansion as their merchandise is now available at retail heavy hitters like Walmart, Target, Macy’s, Dollar General and CVS.

After they agreed to accept an investment from their new stakeholder and well-known TV shark Barbara Corcoran, who offered $250,000 for a 10% stake in the company, during a recent appearance on ABC’s Shark Tank. Hudson shared with CNN that the large lumpsome of funds will help the ladies keep up with the evolution of Black Paper Party as they will be used to hire more employees, increase inventory, and design a high-quality website for online shoppers.

“You can’t beat that type of exposure,” Hudson said. “We definitely want to make sure we are bringing the message of representation during seasonal celebrations to the masses.”

After creating a small collection of Valentine’s Day and Easter materials in collaboration with Walmart in 2022, Willis, Hudson and Merchant want to continue down this path of expansion. They will kickstart 2024 with more inclusive merch to commemorate Black History Month that will be available at Kohl’s and Dollar General in February, which aligns with their goal to celebrate the beauty of Black culture 365 days a year.

“It’s time for the seasonal industry to reflect different perspectives of life,” Willis said. “A lot of retailers were behind the curve.”