Meet India Rose, Creator Of The Martha’s Vineyard Black-Owned Business Directory

Black people who visit Martha’s Vineyard every summer know there’s one person to ask about Black businesses on the island.

“Because I live on the island year-round and grew up here, people often seek me out based on stuff I do in the community for Black-owned resources on the island,” India Rose told BLACK ENTERPRISE. “So I’d get messages from a lot of people I didn’t even know that would ask if I knew a Black-owned landscaping company or Black-owned restaurant?”

So in 2019, Rose created the Martha’s Vineyard Black Owned Business Directory. The directory provides a litany of Black-owned businesses on the island, including restaurants, hair & beauty salons, private chefs, and catering. The directory even has Black-owned home improvement services and realtors you can hire.

Instead of telling people where to go, she pointed them to the website. According to Rose, the first year the directory was available, it did pretty well. However, during the summer of 2020, the directory exploded.

“In 2020, with the pandemic hitting and with George Floyd and the world sort of being on fire, people were seeking it out, so the platform kind of organically exploded with traffic, with people going through the website, with allies, with people looking to intentionally support and what I noticed was people were printing from the website, and it was a scrolling site so it didn’t look great.”

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When Rose realized the website had gotten so popular that people were printing it, she decided that wasn’t good enough and created the first physical directory to give even more people access to Black-owned businesses on the island. The first year the physical copy of the guide was released was 2021, and as the directory’s popularity has grown, so has its size. In 2021 the directory was 30 pages; this summer, it’s expanded to 92.

In addition to the physical directory, Rose, a mother of two, also owns Sideline, a motivational sportswear brand and community gathering space for events, pop-ups, and networking opportunities.

“Sideline is a motivational sportswear and streetwear brand inspired by me being a sideline mom,” Rose told Black Enterprise. “My son is a junior at the University of Rhode Island on the football team, and one of my biggest accomplishments is being a mom and attending my children’s events; I was the sideline mom, and the echos and the cheers, that’s what Sideline means.”

In the five years it’s existed, the directory has provided a way for Black visitors to spend their money with Black people, and last year Rose partnered with producer Sean “Diddy” Combs and his Ciroc vodka brand.

Rose told Black Enterprise that when she started the directory, she had no idea it would receive this much attention. She admitted she had some fears about it.

“When  I announced it, I didn’t know whether it would be embraced, particularly by the locals,” Rose said. “I wondered if there would be backlash, would people ask why are you separating businesses or highlighting Black-owned businesses instead of just a business? Luckily it didn’t; I didn’t have to deal with the negativity from people who wouldn’t support this platform.”

Last month, Rose celebrated the fifth anniversary of the directory as Black-owned businesses from the guide participated in a pop-up marketplace. The celebration also included music from DJ Smooth B, Rose’s husband. However, Rose isn’t resting on the success of the directory. She’s always trying to improve the directory and is already working on next year’s edition.

“For next year, the biggest change is adding articles, just some additional highlights,” said Rose. “Right now, it’s laid out as a resource, but the plan for next year is also to highlight some of the businesses, just sort of a journalistic component of adding some articles and highlighting some of the businesses.”