“Us Black-owned brands are held to a standard that is sometimes impossible, where everything must be perfect and we cannot be associated in the same lane as these bigger conglomerate brands,” he said in the video. “That’s because we’re far and few in between. We don’t really exist in the market and when we do exist in the market we must be the best, we cannot have one problem. I understand that burden.”
In the last year, the Brandon Blackwood brand has grown significantly, partly because of the popularity of the ESR tote. Before that tote, the company had modest, but healthy, sales; in the last 12 months, the company said, it has sold 10,000 purses. They are often found at resale sites like Poshmark and Tradesy, sometimes at three times the retail price.
The issues Mr. Blackwood and his customers are dealing with aren’t uncommon, according to Chris Ventry, a vice president in the consumer and retail practice of SSA & Company, a global management consultancy.
“With such tremendous growth, there is a rush to utilize different, enhanced manufacturers,” Mr. Ventry said. “As a company grows, there’s a need to bring on sometimes a different side of the brain — in this sense, product development personnel or someone with a true understanding of manufacturing and quality control. That sometimes is not the designers area of expertise, it’s the expertise of someone else in the business.”
Many of Blackwood’s customers who received purses that were not as described have committed to continuing to support the brand, even with their tainted first experience. While Ms. Henry was surprised at the state of her purse, she has shrugged the incident off.
“It definitely wasn’t what I anticipated, it just didn’t match the online description,” Ms. Henry said, adding that she reached out to the company and received an apology and a full refund for the bag within 24 hours.