A black female-owned feminine hygiene company was bombarded with negative reviews and online abuse after it was featured in a Target commercial, but its founder says the experience has “turned out to be a really beautiful thing.”
The ad showcases The Honey Pot Company and has been running since early February, but it got thousands of one- and two-star reviews over the weekend from people complaining it was racist.
In the commercial, founder and CEO Beatrice Dixon says, “The reason why it’s so important for The Honey Pot to do well is so the next black girl that comes up with a great idea – she can have a better opportunity.”
The Honey Pot Company has been selling its plant-based wipes, pads, cleansers and other products in Target stores since 2017, Dixon told CNN. The commercial was part of Target’s “Founders We Believe In” campaign.
A spokesman for the review site Trustpilot told CNN it got almost 18,000 reviews between Sunday night and Monday morning. Many of the posts were blocked by artificial intelligence filters because they contained hate speech, but staff had to jump in to remove offensive comments that slipped through.
Dixon told CNN she found out what was happening when her mother texted her.
“Our customers were the ones that really got on top of it,” Dixon said. “I think one of our customers put it up as a social media post. And then it completely got turned around.”
She said the company’s rating went from two stars to a 4.9 in less than a day because of all of the comments from people who said they love their products.
“It was really beautiful to see so many people supporting us, you know, and lifting us up and speaking words of encouragement,” Dixon said.
Trustpilot has turned off the ability to review The Honey Pot Company, but there are dozens of reviews of Target from people who vowed to never shop there again because of the commercial.
“Target has a longstanding commitment to empowering and investing in diverse suppliers that create a broad variety of products for our guests,” a Target spokesman said in a statement. “We’re proud to work with Bea Dixon and The Honey Pot team to highlight Bea’s journey to build her brand and bring her products to Target. We’re aware of some negative comments about the campaign, which aren’t in line with the overwhelmingly positive feedback we’ve received from guests who love and have been inspired by Bea’s story.”
Dixon said the company isn’t trying to exclude anyone.
“Our tagline is ‘Made by humans with vaginas, for humans with vaginas,’” she said. “That means anybody.”
Dixon said her company has gotten a lot of support despite calls for a boycott.
“This is the best way for me to put it, is things have gone very well,” she said, but she didn’t want to talk about how much sales have increased.
About the money, she said, “it’s just the cherry on top.”
Dixon said she hopes the attention will highlight the fact that only a tiny percentage of venture capital funding goes to businesses run by black women.
“I wish that it was a human thing. I wish that we didn’t have to have the conversations. I wish that this wasn’t a topic of conversation, right. But it still is. And so I’d be remiss not to state the facts,” she said.
Dixon said many investors want to see businesses like hers succeed before they back other women of color.
“It wasn’t me being racist. It was me understanding the responsibility that we have to take as a black-owned business in America in 2020,” she said.
Dixon said she plans to keep growing her company and helping other women navigate the complex art of getting their ideas funded.