India Rose said she was both surprised and thrilled to learn that she had been nominated by state Rep. Dylan Fernandes, D-Falmouth, for her leadership in the Black business community.
On Monday, during a virtual ceremony hosted by the Black & Latino Legislative Caucus in commemoration of Black History Month, Rose’s hard work was celebrated as a 2022 Black Excellence on the Hill Honoree.
“It was a lovely email I received from our representative, Dylan Fernandes,” Rose told The Times. “It was completely out of the blue. It was a great opportunity to be acquainted with the event and great work in the state.”
According to a press release, Rose was recognized for her “strong desire to make the community a better place for future generations,” as well as her “passion for entrepreneurship” as a small business consultant and owner.
Rose is the founder of Thriving Inc., a charitable organization supporting small businesses and student-athletes, and in the midst of the pandemic she opened Sideline, a motivational sportswear and streetwear company on Main Street in Vineyard Haven. She acknowledges that opening during the COVID-19 crisis was a bit of a gamble. “Some were not able to pivot, but the pandemic created new opportunities for businesses to open and thrive,” Rose said. “My motto is ‘Ambition fuels the journey.’”
But it’s not just about her own business success. Rose has looked for ways to promote other Black business owners on the Island.
In 2019, she created the Martha’s Vineyard Black-Owned Business Directory, a digital platform that highlights Black-owned businesses on-Island. With the political climate in 2020, people were looking for ways to support Black-owned businesses. Seeing that people were going onto her website and printing out pages gave Rose the idea in 2021 to create a print edition of the directory.
“I was looking to grow it and make it a hub of culture that people look forward to each year,” she said. “The feedback has been wonderful.”
Over the summer, Rose also helped to promote the first-ever Martha’s Vineyard Black Restaurants and Retail Week. Through her work and advocacy, Rose continues to strengthen and support small and Black-owned businesses in her community.
“India’s leadership on the Vineyard has empowered many small businesses to grow and thrive, and her tireless work to support Black-owned businesses has lifted up the community,” Fernandes said in the release. “I am proud to have nominated India for this well-deserved award, and am grateful to the Massachusetts Black & Latino Legislative Caucus for hosting this event and giving us the opportunity to celebrate Black leaders across the commonwealth.”
Along with her successful business career, Rose is a mother of two children.
“As a Black woman who was raised on Martha’s Vineyard, it is important to me to be an active citizen and make my community a better place for my children and future generations,” Rose said in the release. “Knowing the additional challenges that business owners of color face, my priority is making sure that Black-owned businesses in my community have access to growth and can stay in business. Which is especially hard in a seasonal tourist economy.”
Rose said 2021 was a successful year for many Black-owned businesses, and she’s optimistic about what 2022 will bring. She has several events planned for her Main Street shop throughout the season that will promote local artists and authors.
“It looks like 2022 is going to be a busy season for the Vineyard and our economy. I’m already getting busy now,” she said.