Image courtesy of Nappy

Every African-American understands all too well that feeling of being left out, especially when it comes to businesses and the way they advertise. Instances like Shea Moisture’s recent ad debacle immediately come to mind, but the issue is and has always been much more pervasive. By and large, ads and websites seem to target only White customers but that might not necessarily mean those businesses aren’t interested in attracting a diverse audience. A lot of times the issue is simply a lack of diversity in stock imagery.

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Enter Nappy.co, the brainchild of Jacques Bastien, a photographer, UI/UX designer, college professor and all-around hustlepreneur who has made it his mission to boost diversity in the business and marketing realm. Bastien’s new stock image website features a cache of slice-of-life photos of Black and Brown people—and all the images are completely free to download and use.

Jacques Bastien, creator of Nappy

“I deal with photos every day. That’s why I’ve always been a fan of websites like Unsplash.com and Pexels.com, which provide high-res photos of all people,” explains Bastien. “We always try to be very intentional about cultural representation in the work that we do at our marketing agency Boogie.co and our influencer management agency Shade.co. However, when searching for things like ‘coffee’ or ‘computers,’ it was always hard to find someone who looked like me in the search results. We all drink coffee, we all use computers, we all eat salads. But still, it was difficult to find photos of us on other stock photography websites (free or not).”

Image courtesy of Nappy

Nappy.co’s launch, therefore, provides a solution to the problem of stock image diversity by providing a cache of beautiful high-res photos of Black and Brown people—and all images are completely free to download and use. Nappy.co’s home page features a menu of the types of photography offered including active, food, people, things and work. Browsers can easily find images of a POC reading the business section of a newspaper or eating a slice of pizza or reading an article on a smartphone. Bastien says that Nappy.co will help both businesses and photographers alike.

“Nappy.co was built to help push our mission of bringing opportunities to POC and help increase representation,” says Bastien. “Businesses get access to beautiful high-res photos of POC for absolutely free but Nappy.co is what it is because of the amazing photographers that chose to gift their work to this initiative. Our goal and hope is to support these photographers and bring exposure to their work.”

Image courtesy of Nappy

Since the images are completely free, the site doesn’t actually generate income—but Bastien is fine with that.

Bastien explains, “Now occasionally, we do expect a few businesses to dig a little deeper in hopes of finding out who’s behind this initiative. Based on their findings, some of them may choose to hire us for one of our other services. So indirectly, we can see some of the financial benefits of a website like Nappy.co, but for us, the impact is more important.”

Image courtesy of Nappy

And the photographers are game as well.

“Early on, I got in touch with some of my dope photographer friends—Mark Clennon, Jarrod Anderson, Tolu Bamwo—and told them about Nappy.co. They were excited to gift some of their photos to this initiative. Now we invite photographers from all over the world to submit their work to be featured, and since launch, we’ve received an influx of submissions.”

Because Bastien is very much committed to promoting diversity both socially and in marketing, he is also genuinely excited to hear about similar sites such as TONL.co entering the marketplace.

Image courtesy of Nappy

“HUGE congrats to the TONL team for their recent launch. It’s amazing to see other people tackling the same issues as us. We also admire that they are a full-time business and have a fee for their services. Nappy.co is a part-time social initiative and we are 100% free.”

What do you think about the launch of this new platform? Have you had a hard time finding high-quality stock images for people of color?

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