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“This is a movement, not a moment”

At Brand Licensing Europe this week, Saphia Maxamed, founder of Black Lives Matter Licensing Movement, has highlighted the importance of authentic products being stocked throughout retail to reflect the black community.

Founded in 2020, after a conversation with bought the licensing community together to support the Black Lives Matter movement, the Black Lives Matter Licensing Movement is now calling on retailers to expand their black product ranges to reflect everyday people.

At Brand Licensing Europe this week, founder Saphia Maxamed remembered the beginning of the organisation last year. Following her conversation with LicensingSource, and the ensuing news story, she said: “Within minutes, I had the whole industry contacting me. I had licensing agents, licensors, licensees, retailers, everyone was asking how they can take the licence from me. I realised, ‘oh my god, what have I done?’”

The company quickly created a style guide, and launched a number of projects including a collaboration with designer Samira Ebrahimi for a limited edition at London Fashion Week, and joined with Black Lives Matter UK to ensure all funds raised by the movement were put back into the black community.

Saphia explained that the next steps for the Black Lives Matter Licensing Movement are to increase product offering at retail. She said: “In retail at the moment, we are lurking on the shelves. There’s more in the online platforms, D2C, there’s more gifting areas in places like Selfridges, but no more than that.

“So we want to look at ways to change that. How can we give a platform to black-owned businesses, to actually be part of this movement, part of that equality journey we are going through, to offer product to reflect the black community.”

Alongside licensed Black Lives Matter lines, Saphia highlighted the importance of authentic products created by black-owned businesses to reflect the black community, from dolls to food products, to beauty and fashion.

She continued: “For us, change must come. For most retailers, it’s about influencers and celebrities, but this is not about celebrities, this is about everyday people. They are the change makers, they are the families we are talking about. Everyday families are who is going to buy this product. They are our celebrities, they are our influencers.

“We need to focus on the subtle things. Certain products won’t fit into retailers’ Black Lives Matter core message, but they can fit into that subject, just subtly done. Target’s initiative has a whole plan behind black-owned businesses in America, but also black supply chains and diversity products.

“These are meaningful changes, rather than just stocking one product, or just working with one company. This is movement, it’s not a moment. It’s something that’s going to have to change and we need to look at it together.”

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