“If you’re not in it, then you don’t exist”, are the sentiments of Origin Directory’s founder, Kevin Golding.
Keeping in mind the need for supporting businesses and services among people of color, the Origin Directory was created.
You can locate almost anything in the directory, from a Black dating service to Black-owned bed and breakfast establishments.
Kevin said, “right now it’s free to list any service or business. There’s no need for a license or state approval.” Cookie bakers can list their homemade baked goods, babysitters can advertise their services, anyone can list upcoming fundraising events, and much more. No business or service is too esoteric. The listings are local and international.
Though a licensed attorney, Kevin didn’t want to practice law after graduation. Plus, he knew how competitive the job market was for the law in England where he studied.
He didn’t want to be pushed into criminal law where there was a need for lawyers. “I saw more of a need for a Black publication”, Kevin said. So right after law school, he went into publishing. While still living in Great Britain, Kevin published a magazine called “Origin.”
He raised funds through government grants and using his own money to capitalize this venture. Kevin said, “It was a Afro-centric life style magazine. It was under capitalized and eventually ran out of money.” This occurred roughly in 1992-93.
Looking for a wider market and having contacts in the U.S., Kevin crossed the pond to test the waters. He met with the publishers of Essence magazine, and a New Jersey investor. The investor was having financial problems and eventually pulled out. Nothing developed with the Essence contact.
However, Kevin also had contacts in publishing and was able to get a job working with the City Sun and the Daily Challenge. After this period, Kevin took and passed the New York Bar. He now has a law practice in Manhattan.
After many years, and with the .com market booming, Kevin said, “Based on the Black Pages I decided to update the directory for the electronic age.” He was referring to a forerunner print directory.
The first stage of business was focused on building a data base. The actual process took about a year and a half to build a workable website. “When I contacted local councilmen, they didn’t have a list of black businesses. They told me, ‘if you obtain a list, I’d like to see it.’ So what I did was go out to certain areas door-to-door and find Black businesses not already on line. We got names, addresses and some emails and put them on the site. We’re going to do the same thing this summer.”
Kevin went on to say, “I used the same model that Google and Facebook had when they first came out – they didn’t charge. They had to get the business correct first and had to get users. If you have to pay to list in a directory, it’s not a real directory; just a bunch of people who pay to be in it.”
“This is a directory for any Black business whether you’re in the house sewing or in the corporate world, you don’t need to have a license”, he added.
Kevin explained some of the unique features of the web site. By clicking any business or service using this website from wherever you are, you can locate and send emails or calls with any mobile device to make a reservation, appointment or whatever you need. This is a free service.
“You don’t even have to have an email to list, although our preference is an email so we can communicate with them. For instance, if Gov. Cuomo were to give funding out to small businesses, I could email them and say ‘there’s $50 million available for small businesses’ and the notice is immediately in their boxes,” Kevin said.
Based on Craig’s list, Kevin said he got the idea to have a classified section. “Nowadays it’s not enough to be a straight up directory, people are looking for work” he said. He gave this example: Say an owner of a small Jamaican restaurant wants to hire a temporary cook for three or four days. By listing in the directory, he’s more likely to find a Jamaican cook able to prepare authentic dishes, while simultaneously advertising his restaurant. Again, all for free.
The Directory is great for newcomers to this country seeking Black cultural events. Go to the site and click upcoming events and make your choice. It’s great advertising for the business and the persons seeking a cultural experience, whether it’s dining, art or entertainment.
Presently there are 700 businesses on the site. With the Origin Directory, communities of color have choices as to where their dollars are spent. Black businesses now have a public presence. Kevin says, “The theory is that if they do well, I do well. The more you give, the more you get back.”
Call for information on the upcoming Young Entrepreneurs event tentatively scheduled for June 13th, and to list a business or service (718) 255-7603, e-mail [email protected]