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Navigator Lighthouse Leading Way To Supermarket Shelves, Success

Navigator Lighthouse

Pierces found new nonprofit to boost diversity, inclusion 

In the wake of weeks of Black Lives Matter protests nationwide, Subriana and Allen Pierce decided to focus their efforts on starting a nonprofit foundation, Navigator Lighthouse, to help women- and minority-owned CPG companies get up and running and onto store shelves.

The Pierces, a husband-wife brokerage, founded Navigator Sales and Marketing about seven years ago with a vision to help small businesses get into grocery store markets.

Subriana Navigator Lighthouse
Subriana Pierce

“Helping women-owned business, minority-owned businesses, family-owned businesses,” Subriana said. “That was always our passion, and that was always what we built the company on.

“We see so many of our businesses in our communities have great innovation, but they just don’t have the knowledge, the technology, the funds to get to the grocery shelves, and we said, ‘That’s enough. We’ve got to reach out and specifically bring these companies along.’”

Navigator started as a small broker company, with the Pierces’ hope that product lines would come to them. And they did. Since then, they’ve started to work with mid-level CPG companies, gaining more traction in the industry.

“Now, because of what’s been happening with the civil rights and some of the things that we’re seeing, believe it or not, once again a retailer reached out to us,” Allen said. “Not from our community – this So Cal community – from the East Coast. And they said, ‘Navigator, we need minority- or women-owned CPG companies to bring into our space.’ 

“Let’s formalize it so the retailers can promote it and put money back into your community.’”

Subriana added, “And they also do have women- and minority-owned brands on their shelves and literally said, ‘You can help us with those. Help us train and develop the brands that we’re already carrying.”

After the company reached out to Navigator, Subriana spent the next 48 hours putting together a program, which morphed into Navigator Lighthouse. And the organization is going to serve two purposes, both of which the East Coast retailer requested.

“[It’s] going to train women-owned and CPG minority companies on the system, our community, how we work,” Subriana said. “[It’s] also going to consult retailers on minority relationships – and not only their employees, but their executives. How to develop minorities and women through their system, through consulting.”

Allen Navigator Lighthouse
Allen Pierce

As far as retailers are concerned, Allen said everyone is attempting to address the current work atmosphere. And that’s the beauty of Navigator Lighthouse.

“We’ll do it for them,” he said. “We’ll do the work. We’ll get everybody trained.

“We’ll make sure that their product line can compete on the shelves, which makes the retailers money. We’ll make sure that they’re ready to go and have the best chance.”

So why small, women- or minority-owned businesses? For starters, Subriana points to their background.

“We’re a Black-owned broker – one of the few of many that look like us out there go to industry events, but we’ve now gathered a group of like-minded individuals for the foundation,” she said.

And now, ways to make an impact on their industry is all-the-more present.

“What impact would we have…” Allen said. “We’re going to put together a machine that our retailers have input in to make people out of those communities successful.”

In terms of who can benefit from Navigator Lighthouse, Subriana said they designed it with simplicity. There will be an application process to assess the need and a committee to decide where the funding goes.

For funding, Subriana said she sees retailers as part of the group backing Navigator because “this is actually something that could generate future income or revenue for a retailer. We expect interest from all industries.”

And Navigator has brought on financial advisors to iron out the “vicious cycle” of little money being spent on women- and minority-owned businesses. 

“How do we ever succeed if we’re never going to get the funding? Just 3 percent of venture capital is awarded to women-owned businesses and only  1 percent goes to Black and Latinx founders,” she said.

And while Subriana said she could have just written a check to an important cause, she recognized the need. “This is the business we’re in. We take brands to retail.”

For more information on Navigator Lighthouse, email [email protected].

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