Jordyn Weaver’s personal mission statement is clear from the moment you start talking to her: She’s here to build Black wealth.
“I’ve always been really passionate about building wealth in my community, and I really believe that entrepreneurship and innovation is the key,” she told Hypepotamus.
Her latest startup, Forefront, is changing how we shop online by making it easier for consumers to buy from Black-owned businesses.
On one side is a marketplace of Black-owned fashion, beauty, homegoods, and even gaming businesses. On the other side of the marketplace are consumers looking for new brands to follow and try out. Users not only shop on the platform, but they can also share their favorite items with their followers, giving them the opportunity to become influencers.
Instead of targeting already-established influencers, Forefront is a place where “everyday people can leverage their influence with friends, families, and followers,” Weaver added.
Leveraging influencers is an important – but often expensive – affiliate marketing strategy for young brands. Yes, influencers are driving sales (upwards of 72% of all Instagram users say they make purchasing decisions based on influencers), but brands have to manage those relationships, give out free products, and pay for posts.
Forefront’s model offers a “more affordable solution for brands to step into the realm of influencer marketing,” added Weaver.
Forefront offers two tiers of pricing – $15 a month for standard and $30 a month for professional accounts. Both give businesses access to a branded Forefront shop where they can manage inventory, sales, and affiliate partnerships in one place. The professional tier matches brands with new influencers each month. Forefront earns a 20% commission for each order, half of which goes to pay affiliates.
Forefront’s MVP and early versions are built on top of Shopify.
Building Black Wealth In Atlanta
The origin of Forefront dates back to Weaver’s time as a college student in North Carolina, when she struggled to find Black owned businesses, restaurants, and brands around her to support.
Weaver, an Atlanta transplant, moved to the city from Southern California after completing her master’s degree at the University of California at Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business. Though she is relatively new to Atlanta, she has deep roots in the city. She said her parents met in Atlanta and her sister moved down several years ago.
Besides her family connections, Weaver said that it is also the right place to launch Forefront.
“It’s just a great place to be young and Black. But it is also a really great city to build this kind of company. The startup ecosystem is booming. The opportunities are here. And the people that I need to be around and the brands that I want to work with are here,” she told Hypepotamus.
Weaver has wasted no time connecting with the local startup community. She was part of Techstars’s inaugural Founder Catalyst Program in 2021and the third cohort for Zane Access, an Atlanta-based on-profit organization that prepares diverse founders to raise outside capital.
Heading into fall 2023, Weaver will be busy on the startup pitch circuit. Forefront has been selected as a semi-finalist for Black Ambition, a pitch competition founded by recording artist Pharrell Williams that gives $200,000 to $1,000,000 in convertible equity (SAFE). Weaver will also be pitching Forefront at Black in eComm in Atlanta later this month.
Outside of pitching, Weaver said she is currently focused on bringing more influencers and CPG (consumer product good) businesses onto the platform.