June 2020. It started on Twitter. Seriously. Intentionalist received a direct message from a stranger who had stumbled onto our website and wondered if he might be able to help create an Intentionalist browser extension to make it even easier for people to find and support PoC-owned small businesses when searching online.

The stranger’s name was Georges Krinker. And when we didn’t immediately respond, he sent us a similar message via Instagram. We let him know that we would love to learn more about what he had in mind, but quickly were consumed by the forty thousand people who made their way to the Intentionalist site, looking for Black-owned businesses they could support.

Eventually we connected with Georges for an initial conversation, which led to another, and then another. He explained his vision for helping to create an Intentionalist browser extension prototype, and by September, he had assembled a team of two volunteers to help him, David Han and Toricruz Mendiola.

Last month, we soft launched Intentionalist’s browser extension on Chrome, and while it doesn’t yet embody all of our intentional hopes and dreams, it provides an exciting foundation for discovering diverse local businesses along with additional engagement with our online platform. The initial product provides a glimpse into what’s possible and reflects the creativity and code contributed by Georges, David, and Tori in partnership with our Intentionalist team.

As our project neared its completion, I asked Georges, David, and Tori to answer a few questions about their inspiration and experience working to make Intentionalist’s core functionality even more useful and accessible.

What was your initial reaction to learning about the project and why were you interested in contributing?

GK: I was drawn by Intentionalist’s mission to level the playing field for diverse businesses. We often talk about how treating all people equal is actually racist and to make a change we need to be anti-racist and in a way I see this project as attempting to chip away at anti-racism with online searches.

DH: My reaction to learning about what this project would be about was one of excitement and intrigue. I was excited because I really wanted to use my skills in order to help those around me through this pandemic and this project offered me a way to accomplish just that. I was intrigued because I had never worked on a Chrome extension before and tackling this new unknown for myself would give me insight into developing for this kind of platform. Throughout the process, I learned just how powerful and influential a Chrome extension could be and it made me feel like I was doing my part in trying to make things around us feel a bit better.

TM: My initial reaction to learning about the project was, “Wow serendipity must be real”. At the time this project came up on my LinkedIn feed, I was wrapping up my time at a coding boot camp and was looking to apply what I learned ANYWHERE, whether it be in a professional job or a volunteer project. I was excited that this project has the potential to make a real positive financial impact on small businesses that NEED as much exposure as possible. I felt fortunate to use my expertise to make this project and concept a reality with other like-minded people. And that’s what happened.

What are your hopes for the project now that the MVP is complete?

GK: That the extension, while rudimentary and bare bones, can be a launching point for something that draws more people to Intentionalist and helps more people spend intentionally. 

DH: I hope that this project continues to be helpful to those that use it and hope that businesses can benefit in the end. Hopefully, new features can be added down the road and we can get more feedback from users, but I am definitely proud of the work we have done together.

TM: One of my hopes for the project is to see the download count grow as Intentionalist grows their directory. That more people see how this one extension can allow them to give back to their community while they still enjoy their day to day activities (coffee runs, dining out, etc.).

Why do you think it’s important for more people to #SpendLikeItMatters?

GK: Because intentionally diversifying one’s spending is an important way to walk the walk in the mission for a more just and equitable world. By choosing business and services from women, people of color, veterans, LGBTQ, etc. we are choosing to empower people to lift themselves up and the benefits compound throughout the community. 

DH: It is important, especially right now with everything occurring, because there are small businesses that I grew up with that have to shut their doors for good. If we want to help these struggling businesses then we need to be smarter with where our money goes and spend it where they most need it.

TM: To #SpendLikeItMatters is the most important thing to be conscious of if you want your community to continuously have a better quality-of-life. While an Instagram post does help with awareness, there’s no better return on financially supporting your local businesses and encouraging your loved ones to follow in your footsteps.

It has been amazing to witness a group of strangers come together and create the beginning of a tool that extends Intentionalist’s reach beyond our site to meet people as they are searching with a gentle reminder to #SpendLikeItMatters.

While the past year has brutal for so many in so many ways, I am heartened by how navigating the pandemic and racial injustice have reminded us of what really matters – people, and our ability to connect and collaborate, toward the creation of the more equitable, inclusive, sustainable world that we want.

Thanks for all that you do to #SpendLikeItMatters! Discover awesome brick + mortar small businesses in your community, suggest your favorites, and be sure that you’re following us on social media (InstagramFacebookTwitter).

Intentionalist is your local guide to small businesses and the diverse people behind them. We believe that where you spend your money matters, and we’re sure glad you do too! Whether you identify as a localist, activist, or just a good neighbor, we make it easy for you to connect with, learn about, and support small businesses in your community through everyday decisions about where you eat, drink, and shop.

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