Feminine care brand The Honey Pot was targeted by racist reviews after sharing an inspiring message for young Black women in a nationwide Target commercial, prompting an outpouring of support online and a major sales boost.
The Black History Month and Women’s History Month ad spot features company founder and CEO Beatrice Dixon, who reflects on the struggles she faced founding the plant-based feminine hygiene brand.
“The reason why it’s so important for Honey Pot to do well is so the next Black girl that comes up with a great idea, she could have a better opportunity. That means a lot to me,” Dixon says at the end of the ad.
“The whole reason I started The Honey Pot Co was because I was suffering from bacterial vaginosis for months and couldn’t get relief. One night, an ancestor visited me in a dream and gifted me with a vision to heal myself,” Dixon writes on the company’s website. “With her help, I created the Honey Pot Co to solve for what other brands wouldn’t, using the power of herbs.”
On Monday, Honey Pot trended on Twitter after people noted that the brand’s profile on business review site Trustpilot was being targeted with one-star ratings.
People who were apparently offended by the ad’s empowering message for young Black entrepreneurs bemoaned the ad as “racist” and “uninclusive.” Other trolls left fake bad reviews about the product.
Later Monday, Trustpilot suspended Honey Pot’s profile.
A message on the page said it was under temporary suspension while the platform reviewed the influx of comments.
Trustpilot’s North America director of communications, Zach Pardes, told HuffPost its team was sifting through more than 15,000 reviews that had flooded in over 24 hours, and were removing any in violation of the platform’s guidelines ― which, according to its site, includes use of hate speech or language that has a “sexist or racial character.”
“In short, yes, our investigations team is removing the reviews because they violate our guidelines (and quite honestly our company values as well),” he said.
Hundreds of Twitter users shared support for the brand, highlighting the systemic obstacles faced by Black female entrepreneurs and the need for more messages like the one in the Target commercial, praising trailblazers like The Honey Pot’s founder. The brand’s rating was at five stars on Monday.
The outpouring of positive messages saw The Honey Pot’s sales double by almost 50% on Monday, Dixon told BuzzFeed. Following the backlash, sales across the brand’s retailers have increased 20 to 30%, she said.
“I said nothing about our product being only for black girls,” Dixon noted. She also highlighted the company’s tagline: “made by humans with vaginas, for humans with vaginas.”
In an interview with Essence, Dixon drew attention to urgent need for funding to Black women-owned businesses. She highlighted the Project Diane study from Digital Undivided that found that only 0.06% of all tech venture funding issued between 2009 and 2017 had gone to Black women-led startups.
“Until the disparity isn’t a disparity, it has to be talked about. I don’t necessarily expect the people making the [negative] comments to know that,” Dixon told Essence.
Read some of the commentary on Twitter below.