Toast-its Rings in the Holidays with a Nordstrom Partnership

| By Andy DiAntonio
“Retail is a long game, but I’m very patient and persistent.” — Jeremy Black, Jasper + Black
 
As the Managing Partner of Jasper + Black, a trend-forward stationary, gift, and office supplier manufacturer, Jeremy Black knows that working your way into the retail business can take time. He also knows that it can pay off. After more than a year of discussions and negotiations, Jeremy saw his products on the shelves of Nordstrom for the first time. But getting there was no quick or easy process.
 
It all started in 2014 at the NGLCC’s International Business and Leadership Conference, where Jeremy’s business partner DyShaun Muhammad started a conversation that would land Jasper + Black a partnership with the retail giant. While networking at the Business Expo, DyShuan met Sandra Loza, Nordstrom’s Supplier Diversity Program Director. 
 
Sandra saw that Jasper + Black had a special spark that could make them a hit with Nordstrom customers. So, she introduced DyShaun to two merchants, and the partnership developed over the next year. 
 
“We are excited about having Toast-its at Nordstrom,” said Sandra, “and we hope it resonates with our customer.”
 
In November, Jeremy and DyShaun’s hard work paid off, and they shipped their Toast-its gift wrap for wine to Nordstrom. The gift wrap will be featured in select stores and online at Nordstrom.com for everyday and holiday programs.  
 
While Jasper + Black’s story is certainly one of success, Sandra admits that it can be difficult to find certified suppliers and to connect them with merchants at the right time. But it is definitely not impossible. With a certification from the NGLCC, Jeremy and DyShaun gained access to the networking opportunities they needed to launch their product forward. 
 
For other LGBTBEs looking to partner with retailers, Jeremy emphasizes that patience and persistence are key.
 
“As a merchandise vendor to retailers, this is especially true for our company, as lead times to a successful product placement are long, retail organizations are in major flux, and buyers are constantly shifting roles,” said Jeremy. “We’re still pursuing — 18 months later — opportunities from the conference.”
 
Moving into 2016, Jasper + Black will continue working with Nordstrom and pursue new opportunities afforded by the NGLCC’s 2015 conference with retailers like Office Depot, Target, and L Brands. In the meantime, Jeremy encourages other creative and innovative LGBT manufacturers to certify their business and share in his success.