2022 Innovator Award Winner

Young Alumnae Graduate | Honors

Jae’da Turner, DMSB’14, MBA’16

Founder and Managing Director, Black Owned Bos.

There’s a New Boss in Town: Jae’da Turner of Black Owned Bos.

by Molly Callahan   |   November 15, 2022

A creative, a community builder, and an innovator, Jae’da Turner poured her time and energy into elevating her business services and consulting agency, Black Owned Bos., amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The fast-growing agency highlights the people moving Black culture forward in the Boston area; advances Black-owned businesses, places, and spaces; and helps close existing gaps in Boston’s Black-owned community.

Every few weeks, weather permitting, a section of Boston’s Seaport District is transformed into a lively, bustling marketplace. Vendors selling all-natural soaps, handmade jewelry, decadent baked goods, and more, appear under white tents—an outdoor bazaar that’s impossible to walk past without stopping.

Their wares are entirely unique, but each vendor has something in common: They’re part of Black Owned Bos., a network of Black-owned businesses in the Greater Boston area.

The brainchild of Northeastern alumna Jae’da Turner, Black Owned Bos. is more than just an event company. It also provides business services and consultation to local, Black-owned businesses. In addition to hosting in-person marketplaces, Turner maintains a directory of more than 1,600 businesses in Massachusetts. To date, the services that Black Owned Bos. provides have helped Black-owned businesses realize an additional $2 million in revenue.

“The goal was to expand the businesses people might consider,” she says, “Similar to a White Pages, here you check out the business, and check out the reviews. People can only find the businesses they know to look for. This is a way to expand that knowledge.”

As the driving force behind Black Owned Bos., Turner was recognized with a 2022 Innovator Award, a competition hosted by Northeastern’s Women Who Empower that drew more than 100 entries this year.

Turner, a Double Husky who earned her bachelor’s from Northeastern University in 2014 and her master’s in business administration from the university in 2016, started Black Owned Bos. in March 2019 as a hobby and creative outlet. Turner was a small-business owner herself and knew what the entrepreneurial landscape looked like for non-white businesses in the city.

“I just recognized this disconnect—people weren’t always finding out about or getting connected to Black-owned businesses in Boston,” she says. Students who came to colleges and universities in Massachusetts from other states or countries also didn’t always know where to go for familiar services and goods, or even how to search them out. When she was a student at Northeastern, Turner says she fielded lots of questions along these lines.

“As far as the future, it’s really just about breaking down these barriers for small, Black-owned businesses in the Greater Boston area.”

—Jae’da Turner, Founder and Managing Director, Black Owned Bos.

“As far as the future, it’s really just about breaking down these barriers for small, Black-owned businesses in the Greater Boston area.”

—Jae’da Turner, Founder and Managing Director, Black Owned Bos.

“People would ask where to get their hair braided, or where to find the best soul food,” she says. “They were looking to connect to a home within a home.”

Having grown up in the city—Turner is from Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood—this disconnect was puzzling. The many Black-owned businesses in the area were alive and well, just not on everyone’s radar. So, Turner started an Instagram account, where she would post photos and information about local businesses.

“I wanted to highlight and amplify those businesses I grew up with,” she says.

The page had a healthy and steadily growing following. In March 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Turner pivoted to focus on Black Owned Bos. full time, building out a website with more information and more businesses. By then, the Black Owned Bos. Instagram page had about 3,000 followers, she says.

Then, in May 2020, Minneapolis police officers killed George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, by kneeling on his neck. The incident sparked protests across the U.S. and around the world, as millions rallied against police violence and for racial and social justice. It was a turning point in the movement for racial equity—and for Black Owned Bos.

“The catalyst was this awakening around racial justice,” Turner says. “People were looking for an immediate way to help. They were flocking to Black businesses, to amplify them and lift them up.”

Black Owned Bos. gained 14,000 followers over the course of three weeks that summer, Turner says. “It was overwhelming at first, but I appreciated the value of the platform and watching it grow.”

Elaine Ellis-Phillip is one half of the mother-daughter team behind Sweet Glam, a beauty, cosmetics, and self-care business in the city that’s part of Black Owned Bos.’s network of local businesses.

“I don’t know that we would’ve had the same opportunities without Jae’da,” Ellis-Philip says. Through exclusive Black Owned Bos. programming, Sweet Glam has hosted events in partnership with Puma and State Street, she says.

The business, which turned two at the end of September, has grown exponentially in the year that it has been associated with Black Owned Bos., Ellis-Phillip says. “It’s really helped a lot.”

Turner has big plans for the future of Black Owned Bos. She just opened the first permanent, brick and- mortar storefront for the business in Boston’s South End, which features goods from some of the many businesses in the network, as well as Black Owned Bos. branded merchandise.

“As far as the future, it’s really just about breaking down these barriers for small, Black-owned businesses in the Greater Boston area,” Turner says. “It’s that whole mentality of ‘lift as you climb.’ And it’s been an exciting journey so far.”