new-mexico-opening-resource-centers-for-minority-owned-businesses

New Mexico Opening Resource Centers For Minority-Owned Businesses

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KRQE) – With two new business centers in the state, the New Mexico Minority Business Development Agency is gearing up to better support minority-owned businesses.

The business centers received more than $380,000 in federal funding and more than $20,000 from the City of Albuquerque. With the funding, Las Cruces and Las Vegas, New Mexico each received a new minority-focused business center.

“We can play a pivotal role in bridging service disparities and extending our support to an even broader reach of business owners,” the Las Cruces Business Center’s Business Advisor, Candle Baca, said in a press release.

The hope for the business center in Las Vegas, New Mexico, is to help the local business community rebuild after the devastating Hermit’s Peak-Calf Canyon wildfire.

“Assisting local business owners affected by recent wildfires is not just a necessity, but our ethical responsibility,” Business Advisor Gloria Ortiz said in a press release. “These entrepreneurs are the backbone of our community, and we must provide them with the support and resources they need to rebuild and thrive.”

The business centers are available to help local businesses of all sizes. They offer consulting services, help with loans, and development help. The new centers are located at:

  • Las Vegas: 366 Luna Drive
  • Las Cruces: 277 E Amador Ave, Suite 275

A business center is also located in Albuquerque (within the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce Barelas Economic Opportunity Center located at 1309 4th Street SW.).

black-entrepreneurs,-frustrated-by-high-rates,-look-to-the-election

Black Entrepreneurs, Frustrated By High Rates, Look To The Election

In the battleground state of Georgia, some Black entrepreneurs are frustrated over the impact of higher interest rates, a source of economic anxiety.

Kimberly Jolasun, a 32-year-old entrepreneur in Atlanta, has never voted for the Republican candidate for the presidency. That may be about to change.

Her company, Villie, is an online platform that lets new parents share photos and updates about their babies with friends and relatives and register for gifts like strollers and playpens. Not yet profitable, her company needs financing to grow. But venture capitalists struggle with her untraditional profile, she said. Technology is dominated by white men in places like Silicon Valley and Austin, Texas. She is a Black woman in Georgia.

Banks want to charge her interest as high as 14 percent for business loans. The interest rate on the credit card debt she used to start the company has spiked to 25 percent, tripling her monthly payments.

Ms. Jolasun knows that borrowing costs are driven by the Federal Reserve. She does not blame President Biden. But she assumes that his Republican opponent, former President Donald J. Trump, is more in tune with the needs of business owners. So she is seriously contemplating giving him her vote.

“For the first time in my life, the ball’s in the air,” she said. “I haven’t made my decision.”

Despite indications of vigor in the economy, higher borrowing costs are a source of financial anxiety that could prove pivotal in the 2024 presidential election — especially in Georgia, one of six battleground states expected to determine the outcome.

Black voters are a crucial bloc in Georgia; four years ago, they made up 27 percent of the electorate. By many indications, Black Americans are disproportionately affected by higher interest rates on mortgages, credit cards, student loans and business debts. Start-up companies owned by people of color — especially Black Americans — confront substantial barriers in raising funds, making them more vulnerable to increased borrowing costs, according to a survey of minority-owned small businesses by the Federal Reserve. Though their companies are typically smaller and less profitable, Black and Hispanic entrepreneurs tend to be rejected on applications for financing even after accounting for differences in credit ratings, suggesting that racial profiling is an issue.

Credit…Rita Harper for The New York Times

“It’s hard for people like me to raise capital.”

Veronica Woodruff

“It’s hard for people like me to raise capital,” said Veronica Woodruff, the founder of Travelsist, a company in Atlanta that pairs travelers who need help navigating airports with support from companions. “I’m an African-Latina woman, and I’m in the South. It just makes it hard to get in front of people who are writing checks.”

Ms. Woodruff, 40, has already raised $1.1 million, including a $250,000 grant from the Fearless Fund, a nonprofit that seeks to address the shortage of capital for businesses owned by women of color. The organization has been hamstrung by a lawsuit from an activist group that says directing funds to minority women is racial discrimination.

Ms. Woodruff is seeking $8 million in additional investment to expand her business. Rising costs have forced her to increase wages to $20 an hour from $15. Venture capitalists are demanding sweeter terms for their investments.

Raised in California, she considers herself a liberal who values civil rights. But as the overseer of a business, she is struggling to decide how to vote.

“I’m taking a lot of risk here,” Ms. Woodruff said. “It’s for everyone, for all of my employees, for everyone who has equity in this company and the communities that we operate in.”

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Hartsfield Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. Black entrepreneurs flock to to the city, where Black Americans are prominently represented in the ranks of business, government and culture.Credit…Rita Harper for The New York Times

The significance of the Black vote in Georgia is hard to overstate. From 2000 to 2019, the number of eligible voters in the state increased by 1.9 million, with Black people making up nearly half that number, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center.

Mr. Biden captured 88 percent of the Black vote in Georgia in 2020 and is expected to win over that bloc again by a whopping margin in this year’s election. Yet in a state decided by fewer than 12,000 votes four years ago, even a slight reduction of support could be decisive.

Vice President Kamala Harris visited Atlanta on Monday at the start of an economic tour of battleground states to underline the administration’s efforts to support Black business owners and entrepreneurs and narrow the racial wealth gap.

Mr. Trump was the chosen candidate for 16 percent of Black voters nationally in a recent poll by The New York Times and Siena College. The same poll found that 81 percent of Black voters rated the economy “fair” or “poor.”

By headline indicators, Georgia appears in robust economic shape. In March, the unemployment rate was 3.1 percent, below the national level, 3.8 percent. Inflation is down from its heights. Atlanta has gained jobs by turning itself into a venue for filming Hollywood movies and by attracting multinational companies that have established corporate headquarters there.

Northwest of the city, Hyundai, the South Korean auto giant, is joining forces with another company, SK On, to pour $5 billion into the construction of an electric vehicle battery plant. A $2.3 billion solar panel factory is going up nearby, the work of Hanwha Qcells, another South Korean business. And the state has seen a surge of food processing factories.

“We’ve been landing lots of new projects, setting new records,” said Jeffrey M. Humphreys, an economist at the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia. “They all kind of build on each other.”

On the state’s coast in Savannah, expansion is underway at what is already one of the country’s largest container shipping ports. The docks are gaining cargo diverted from the port of Baltimore after a container vessel ran into a major bridge there, causing the bridge to collapse and halting cargo traffic.

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Atlantic Station, a retail, office and residential neighborhood in Atlanta. By headline indicators, Georgia appears in robust economic shape. The unemployment rate was 3.1 percent in March, below the national level of 3.8 percent.Credit…Rita Harper for The New York Times

But the effect of higher borrowing costs is not directly captured in official measures of inflation, and increased debt payments tend to erode the benefits of economic growth.

A recent paper by economists at Harvard and the International Monetary Fund concluded that larger payments for mortgages, credit cards and other forms of debt largely explained the gap between rosy economic assessments from experts and glum prognoses from ordinary people.

“Everybody feels like they are stagnant or struggling,” said John Lawson, who sells hip-hop-related shoelaces online and coaches small businesses in the Atlanta area. “The cost of living has skyrocketed. Everybody’s got jobs and still hustling at the same time.”

Black Americans typically suffer rates of unemployment twice those of white Americans. In Georgia, that gap has widened: Black unemployment reached 5.7 percent at the end of last year, while white unemployment was at 2.2 percent, according to an analysis of federal data by the Economic Policy Institute.

Part of this increase appears to reflect how Black-owned businesses have responded to higher borrowing costs: by slowing hiring, reducing hours and cutting jobs, according to a report by the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute.

Many Black entrepreneurs flock to Atlanta, a city where Black Americans are prominently represented in the ranks of business, government and culture. But start-ups in Atlanta typically struggle to secure adequate financing, local entrepreneurs said.

Credit…Rita Harper for The New York Times

“I’m sitting on what I know is going to be a unicorn. There’s no precedent for what we’re doing.”

Charles Wright

“Silicon Valley types, they have so much capital that they will throw money at any absurd idea,” said Charles Wright, the chief executive of Mechanized AI, a start-up that is building robots powered by artificial intelligence. Venture capitalists in the Southeast are more conservative, he added. “They don’t believe in fairy tales.”

Mr. Wright has abundant finance for his next venture, given the sale of his start-up data management company for $22 million in 2018. He drives a red electric Porsche, one of four cars parked in front of his home in Stone Mountain, a leafy, majority-Black suburb alongside a park that is an enduring monument to the Confederacy. He exudes certainty that Mechanized AI is on the verge of being worth billions.

“I’m sitting on what I know is going to be a unicorn,” he said. “There’s no precedent for what we’re doing.”

He is also confident that Black voters will turn out dutifully, if not enthusiastically, for Mr. Biden, whom he credits with returning stability to the economy after the tumult of the Trump administration.

That may prove so. Yet conversations with Black entrepreneurs in Atlanta revealed an overarching sense of uncertainty.

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After pandemic restrictions were lifted, Omar Whilby saw a surge of business at his nightclub. But last year, with interest rates spiking and prices climbing, business fell.Credit…Rita Harper for The New York Times

Right after pandemic restrictions were lifted, Omar Whilby saw a considerable surge of business at his nightclub in East Atlanta Village, a hive of bars and music venues.

“Everyone was tired of being at home,” Mr. Whilby said. People had money in their pockets, courtesy of the pandemic relief programs established under President Trump.

But last year, with interest rates spiking and prices for gas, groceries and rent climbing, Mr. Whilby’s club, iLounge Atlanta, saw business drop by one-third.

In response, he is slowing the development of his technology business, Sound Capsul, which streams music shows online and allows independent artists to upload and share their music.

“We’ve had to shrink our growth strategy,” Mr. Whilby said.

Credit…Rita Harper for The New York Times

“We’ve had to shrink our growth strategy.”

Omar Whilby

Ray Woods, 34, an Atlanta-area real estate entrepreneur, distills the electoral choice as one between a Republican Party that does not care about Black people and a Democratic Party that takes Black voters for granted.

He voted twice for Barack Obama as president and admires Denmark, where high taxes finance a comprehensive and generous social safety net. He supported the candidacy of Senator Bernie Sanders, the self-proclaimed democratic socialist, in the Democratic presidential primary in 2016. Then, he cast his ballot for Mr. Trump in the general election.

Mr. Woods is set to vote for Mr. Trump again this time, seeing him as the best way to advance the interests of business.

“America has been built on capitalism,” he said. “We need somebody who understands business.”

Peter S. Goodman is a reporter who covers the global economy. He writes about the intersection of economics and geopolitics, with particular emphasis on the consequences for people and their lives and livelihoods. More about Peter S. Goodman

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Black-Owned Businesses Are Finding A Home In Chestnut Hill

In Chestnut Hill, newly opened storefronts like Multiverse, NoName Gallery, Serenity Aesthetics & Wellness Medical Spa, and others have breathed new life into the historically affluent neighborhood known for 18th-century architecture, and a bustling commercial corridor. These businesses, owned by people of color, are servicing an evolving and increasingly diverse Chestnut Hill.

“We’ve had more than 24 businesses open in the last two years,” said Courtney O’Neill, executive director of the Chestnut Hill Business District. “The majority were African American owners, young couples, or women — and sometimes all the above.”

While 70% of Chestnut Hill residents are white, the neighborhood has seen a 7% increase in Black residents over the past decade, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Black Philadelphians now make up 19% of the community, and there’s an increasing number of multicultural businesses attracting them to the Hill.

Fitness trainer Kim Harari, who moved to Chestnut Hill a year ago, said she relocated for a “homier” feel, and to find a deeper sense of community as a first-generation immigrant and queer resident.

For Harari, the growing diversity of Chestnut Hill is one of its best qualities. “If I could put a blueprint for what I wanted it to be, it’s here,” said Harari, a trainer at the Balance Chestnut Hill gym. “I never felt in place [in Center City], but [here] it’s diverse, queer-friendly, and a lot of Black-owned businesses. I love it.”

The speculative fiction bookstore Multiverse, which is owned by Sara Zia Ebrahimi-Hughes and Gralin Hughes, hosts monthly showcases for modular synthesizer artists. DanceFit studio owner Megan Kizer has led Beyoncé- and Lil John-inspired after-dark dance sessions. And NoName Gallery’s Jonene Lee has put on First Friday celebrations on the Hill.

Lee has welcomed graffiti artists, local musicians, and hip-hop DJs to her First Friday events, and said the presence of BIPOC-owned spaces and programs like hers has added much-need vibrance to the area. She feels more late-night, block party-style events is something the community has been wanting for some time.

“I’m happy that we’re bringing more color and culture here,” Lee said. “Even little old white women say they love what I’m doing, and that makes me happy.”

Lee says she knows no community is perfect. She’s dealt with “silent racism” all her life — the kind that’s felt through glaring eyes and disturbed faces rather than insults or derogatory statements. But she’s certain there’s real opportunity to grow in Chestnut Hill.

“It’s known for old money, and when you have old money, it’s white and it’s racist, I get that. But it’s not like that here. [Residents are] really open to art and culture, so I found a good spot.”

Tensions over change

While BIPOC business owners have been welcomed into Chestnut Hill in recent years, TC Unlimited Boutique owner Keia Chesson says that wasn’t always the case.

When she first opened her boutique eight years ago, Chesson was attracted to the “quaint” and walkable district, and the general ritziness of the area. At the time, there were only a few Black-owned storefronts in Chestnut Hill, and Chesson said moments of resistance from longtime residents occasionally surfaced.

“When Barack and Michelle Obama were in office, I highlighted purses and other items [with the Obamas’ faces on them] in my window, and some people didn’t like it,” said Chesson, who previously served on the board of directors for the Chestnut Hill Business Association. “Being a Black owner and supporting a Black president may not have been liked among some people [here], but for the most part, people embraced it.”

The increased diversity, O’Neill said, has brought a welcomed and organic change to the area, which has been largely “homogenous” for decades.

“It’s not just the business corridor, it’s just Chestnut Hill overall,” O’Neill said. “It’s an affluent neighborhood, but there’s a lot of affluent African Americans who have found their way here and made homes.”

Emerging unity

Beyond the rise in BIPOC-owned spaces, Will Brown of the Duke Barber Co. said there’s a real sense of unity that’s present throughout the commercial corridor. That’s why he’s kept his business in the area for 15 years, and why other entrepreneurs have gravitated there.

“We all go into each others’ businesses and support each other,” he said.

Brown said the growing diversity doesn’t mitigate the challenges businesses still face. Newly-established entrepreneurs can’t serve just one demographic to be successful — it has to be all of Chestnut Hill.

Owners like Gina Charles are up for the challenge.

Charles, the founder and medical director at Serenity Aesthetics & Wellness Medical Spa, moved her practice from Mt. Airy to Chestnut Hill in November. She wanted to find a ground-level location with greater visibility and easier access to its doors, and a space on the 8100 block of Germantown Avenue was a perfect match.

Charles is excited to see what the future holds, and for Chestnut Hill’s evolution to lead to more job opportunities, business collaborations, and networking events among all residents and patrons. “That’s a win for everyone,” Charles said.

the-state-of-underrepresented-entrepreneurs-in-dei-clawbacks

The State Of Underrepresented Entrepreneurs In DEI Clawbacks

Latino and Black entrepreneurs are generating new businesses at significant rates. But in the … [+] broader ecosystem of unfulfilled promises made in the name of DEI, paired with economic risks in 2024, underrepresented founders face a non-negligible level of uncertainty moving into the rest of the year.

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Serial entrepreneur-turned-investor Felecia Hatcher is no stranger to building a venture amid uncertainty. She recalls the time she and her husband started a gourmet popsicle and ice cream catering company in 2008, during an economic downturn.

“If I would have known that we were in the middle of an economic downturn in probably one of the worst times to start a business, I probably would have never started,” she says. “But it also created a lot of unique opportunities. Silver lining exists only during economic uncertainty.”

Hatcher is now CEO of Pharrell Williams’ organization Black Ambition, which invests in high-growth startups founded by Black and Hispanic entrepreneurs. All the while, underrepresented entrepreneurs continue to grow. Black-owned businesses have experienced a 14% bump in new creation since 2020. Latino-owned businesses made for 36% of debuts in 2023, according to the Census Bureau.

“We are almost 20% of the population, with a $3.2 trillion dollar purchasing power,” says Rocio van Nierop, co-founder and CEO of Latinas in Tech, about the Latino population. “It is time to flip the script and own our power.”

However, in the broader ecosystem of unfulfilled promises made in the name of DEI, paired with economic risks in 2024, underrepresented founders face a non-negligible level of uncertainty moving into the rest of the year.

Following George Floyd’s murder and pressure on Wall Street in 2020, 50 of the largest U.S. public companies committed almost $50 billion to address racial inequality, according to The Washington Post. A McKinsey report cited that racial equity commitments had reached $340 billion by fall of 2022. But an analysis by The Washington Post published 14 months after George Floyd’s murder reported that 37 of the 50 largest companies had deployed only $1.7 billion.

Felecia is the CEO of Pharrell William’s Black Ambition Opportunity Fund.

Black Ambition

“A lot of entrepreneurs were put on this really high cliff [in 2020]. There was a huge injection of cash and opportunities, and now in a lot of ways, those things have quietly gone away,” says Hatcher.

A rejection by the U.S. Supreme Court of affirmative action opened the door for initiatives serving underrepresented communities to be questioned at large across funds, programs and businesses.

Among the challengers of DEI policies have been conservative organizations like the American Alliance for Equal Rights which sued the Fearless Fund over $20,000 small business grants for Black women.

“We have missed out on upwards of eight figures in potential investments that were coming through prior to the litigation,” said Fearless Fund CEO Arian Simone in a CBS News interview in February. “Right now, we are looking for anybody that does believe in DEI and believes in funding programs like this. We’re looking for corporations to step up.”

Another group, America First Legal, filed a lawsuit against Hello Alice, a platform for business owners, calling its grant program for Black-owned small companies discriminatory.

“We are not changing anything. If we change preemptively, they will also win,” Hatcher says of her work with Black Ambition. “We are very specific and intentional about who we serve and we’re not changing anything right now. I implore all my peers to hold the line and to not change.”

Despite the new generation in business, it is underrepresented founders who continue to experience challenges in accessing capital to grow. When it comes to loans, white business owners are more likely to be fully approved for loans compared to Hispanic individuals, who do so at a 38% rate, or Black business owners, who do so at a 20% rate, according to Bankrate. Access to investment looks similarly bleak. Black founders in 2023 only got only 0.48% of all venture dollars. Latinos get less than 2% of this pie.

“The numbers are showing that entrepreneurship in diverse communities is significantly growing,” Hatcher says. “The problem is no longer that we aren’t starting businesses — the problem is that there are all these interruptions that are happening in us growing the businesses.”

What do founders need? Hatcher contributes real mentorship, representation within corporations and healthy relationships with money, in addition to the big unlocking of access to capital.

In the last three years, Black Ambition has invested in more than 100 Black and Hispanic-led companies that have gone on to raise more than $95 million.

“These are the companies that have been overlooked, and look at what $10 million in investment has done – almost a 10X return on that,” Hatcher says. “Wouldn’t you want to be a part of the upswing and share in that success?”

black-owned-breweries-unite-to-break-down-barriers-in-beer

Black-Owned Breweries Unite To Break Down Barriers In Beer

Full Circle Brewing Co has merged with Crowns & Hops Brewing Co in an alliance that will assist in better Black representation in beer.

The new business, named the Circle of Crowns Beverage Group (CCBG), combines Full Circle Brewing Co, based in Fresno, California — known as the largest Black-owned production brewery in the US — with Inglewood, California’s Crowns & Hops Brewing Co.

The creation of CCBG will, according to reports, assist in tackling the systemic challenges that Black-owned businesses face in the sector and signal a new era in the craft beer industry.

The CCBG alliance aims to streamline operations, focusing on production, sales, and marketing and, by pooling their strengths, the breweries are geared up to make their brands more accessible to consumers and retailers worldwide.

Speaking about the merger, Full Circle Brewing CEO and founder Arthur Moye said: “This strategic alliance leverages the strength of our infrastructures and distributor networks to bring our unique brands to retail shelves around the world. Together we are better positioned to maximize growth and bring more consumers craft beverages with an aspirational, relevant connection to black culture.”

Crowns & Hops co-founder, COO, and head of brewing operations Teo Hunter explained: “We can each apply our No Big Deal skills, those areas where we naturally excel based on our previous knowledge and experiences. Arthur at Full Circle is amazing with production, scaling, and the financial side of the business, while Beny and I are experts in branding, marketing, community, and partnerships.”

Crowns & Hops CEO and co-founder. Beny Ashburn added: “Crowns & Hops and Full Circle share the same visions, values, and strategies. Our collective mission extends beyond production, marketing, and sales; we aim to be a supportive resource for other Black-owned craft beer brands, fostering community and growth within the industry.”

Each of the businesses have repeatedly encountered barriers in accessing production facilities, distribution networks, and retail partnerships. However, it has been alleged that through the CCBG the new alliance will help to dismantle these barriers and create a platform that promotes equity and inclusivity within the industry.

As such Black Business outlined how the CCBG represented “more than a merger” and “symbolises progress toward a more inclusive and supportive craft beverage industry” setting “a precedent for collaboration and empowerment within the brewing community”.

this-black-entrepreneur’s-dog-grooming-business-makes-$1.3m-a-year

This Black Entrepreneur’s Dog Grooming Business Makes $1.3M A Year

Gabriel Feitosa, a Brazilian dog grooming artist based in San Diego, California, and the owner of Gabriel Feitosa Grooming Salon, has turned his passion for grooming into a thriving business, making headlines for his artistic transformations of dogs.

Originally from São Paulo, Brazil, Feitosa ventured into the booming global pet grooming market, which now exceeds $1.3 billion. His salon, staffed by 10 employees, handles around 20 dogs daily and 500 dogs monthly, with each pet receiving a personalized makeover rather than just a haircut.

Feitosa’s signature style blends traditional grooming methods with unique designs, often incorporating vegan, pet-friendly dyes. With over 2.5 million TikTok followers and 1 million on Instagram, his creations have garnered widespread attention on social media.

Each intricate design takes between 3 to 5 hours to complete and can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,200. Despite the long hours, Feitosa’s passion drives him. In 2022 alone, his salon generated $1.2 million in revenue, supplemented by $125,500 from brand deals and sponsorships.

“This salon is a dream for me,” Feitosa told CNBC. “I came to the U.S. with two scissors and a clipper, and now I have a place where I feel like an artist and show the world that this career is possible.”

Feitosa’s journey began in São Paulo, Brazil, where his fascination with dog grooming started at the age of 12. He learned the ropes by working at a local grooming shop after school, eventually making dog grooming his full-time career. His determination led him to the United States at 23, where he honed his skills through internships and working with dog shows.

In 2018, Feitosa seized an opportunity to purchase a small grooming business in San Diego, where he began crafting his unique designs. Despite challenges, such as the salon’s temporary closure due to the pandemic, Feitosa’s business has flourished. He was also a finalist on ABC’s “Pooch Perfect,” a dog grooming competition show, further propelling his career and attracting clients nationwide.

Looking forward, Feitosa envisions opening a second salon in Los Angeles and hosting his own dog grooming TV show.

“I’ve learned that success is a consequence of following your passion and your purpose,” Feitosa said. “If grooming dogs is the most random thing, but that’s what you love doing and you do it to the fullest and hardest you can… why can’t you achieve wealth and success?”

Learn more about the business via its official website at GabrielFeitosaGroomer.com and follow the brand on Instagram @GabrielFeitosaGrooming

Also, you can support the business by visiting its location at 4219 Park Blvd, San Diego CA 92103

dc.-united-partners-with-black-owned-apparel-brand-‘the-museum-dc’-on-new-merchandise-collection-|-essence

D.C. United Partners With Black-Owned Apparel Brand ‘The Museum DC’ On New Merchandise Collection | Essence

This collaboration merges the energy of the sports franchise with the unique lifestyle fashion scene of the District of Columbia.

What do you get when you combine one of D.C.’s most dynamic sports franchises with one of the city’s most coveted apparel brands? A harmonious pairing that sets the stage (or field) for something truly remarkable.

D.C. United and The Museum DC recently unveiled an exclusive line of merchandise tailored just for Black-and-Red fans. This collaboration merges the energy of sports with the unique lifestyle fashion scene of the District, offering supporters a fresh and dynamic way to showcase their team spirit. Fans will be able to elevate their game-day style with pieces that capture the essence of both sport and city life in Washington, D.C.

“We take pride in supporting local businesses as they are the lifeblood of our communities,” Danita Johnson, President of Business Operations for D.C. United, tells ESSENCE. “This collaboration is a prime example of how personal expression, fashion and sport collide. As sports continue to influence fashion, our goal is to continue to push the envelope and be innovative in this space.”

Nestled in the vibrant Northeast section of Washington, D.C., The Museum DC stands as a beacon of creativity and cultural expression. More than just a retail boutique, this local Black-owned retail establishment serves as a premium destination for fashion and art enthusiasts alike. Its unique blend of curated collections and event spaces offers visitors a platform to explore and celebrate the intersection of fashion and artistic inspiration. 

“Our brand is rooted in the vibrant tapestry of Washington, D.C.’s creative essence,” says LeGreg Harrison, co-founder of The Museum DC. “Our Museum DC x D.C. United collection is a celebration of urban streetwear heritage and artistic innovation. Every stitch, every line, and every detail within this collaboration embodies the spirit of our capital city, intertwining history with modernity in a seamless fusion of style and substance.”

At the Museum DC creativity knows no bounds, fostering an environment that encourages self-expression and artistic exploration. According to Harrison, the collection with D.C. United is “more than just apparel,” and instead representative of the uniqueness and beauty of D.C.

“We are thrilled with how this collection has evolved and we think our fans will be equally as excited,” says Lisa Franklin, D.C. United Chief Marketing Officer. “This clothing line transcends sports, and it is our hope that it will also appeal to a wider audience. Not only will fans get access to an exclusive collection, but this collaboration will also help serve our community with a portion of proceeds from the sales going back to DC SCORES; a vital non-profit organization that provides free access to soccer, poetry, and more for the local youth.”

The collection is available to purchase online at MLSStore.com.

two-major-black-owned-breweries-merge-to-become-fastest-growing-alliance-in-the-industry

Two Major Black-Owned Breweries Merge To Become Fastest-Growing Alliance In The Industry

In a groundbreaking move, two prominent Black-owned breweries, Full Circle Brewing Co. and Crowns & Hops Brewing Co., have united to form the Circle of Crowns Beverage Group (CCBG), signaling a new era in the craft beverage industry.

Based in Fresno, California, Full Circle Brewing Co. is the largest Black-owned production brewery in the U.S. On the other hand, Crowns & Hops Brewing Co., headquartered in Inglewood, California, sparked a global movement advocating for Black representation in craft beer.

The CCBG alliance aims to streamline operations, focusing on production, sales, and marketing. By pooling their strengths, these breweries will make their locally crafted brands and authentic experiences more accessible to consumers and retailers worldwide.

“This strategic alliance leverages the strength of our infrastructures and distributor networks to bring our unique brands to retail shelves around the world,” said Arthur Moye, CEO and Founder of Full Circle. “Together we are better positioned to maximize growth and bring more consumers craft beverages with an aspirational, relevant connection to black culture.”

“We can each apply our No Big Deal skills, those areas where we naturally excel based on our previous knowledge and experiences,” said Teo Hunter, Crowns & Hops Co-Founder, COO, and Head of Brewing Operations. “Arthur at Full Circle is amazing with production, scaling, and the financial side of the business, while Beny and I are experts in branding, marketing, community, and partnerships.”

“Crowns & Hops and Full Circle share the same visions, values, and strategies,” said Beny Ashburn, Crowns & Hops CEO and Co-founder. “Our collective mission extends beyond production, marketing, and sales; we aim to be a supportive resource for other Black-owned craft beer brands, fostering community and growth within the industry.”

This partnership not only streamlines operations but also addresses systemic challenges that Black-owned businesses face in the craft beverage sector. Historically, these businesses have encountered barriers in accessing production facilities, distribution networks, and retail partnerships.

Through the CCBG, Full Circle and Crowns & Hops aim to dismantle these barriers, creating a platform that promotes equity and inclusivity within the industry. Leveraging Full Circle’s established infrastructure and distribution network, the alliance will ensure wider availability of their unique beverages across the country and potentially beyond, fostering increased brand recognition and growth for all involved.

The Circle of Crowns Beverage Group represents more than a merger; it symbolizes progress toward a more inclusive and supportive craft beverage industry. This strategic alliance sets a precedent for collaboration and empowerment within the brewing community.

Learn more about the companies via their official website at FullCircleBrewing.com and CrownsAndHops.com

Be sure to follow both brands on Instagram @FullCircleBrewingCo and @CrownsAndHops

melannaire-marketplace-‘derby-night-market’-highlights-local-black-owned-businesses

MELANnaire Marketplace ‘Derby Night Market’ Highlights Local Black-Owned Businesses

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – With just over a week to go until Kentucky Derby 150, a Derby-themed pop-up marketplace highlighting Black-owned businesses took over Fourth Street Live Friday night.

MELANnaire Marketplace held a 150th Derby night market featuring over 30 local vendors.

Founder and CEO Nachand Trabue got the inspiration to start MELANnaire Marketplace in 2020 as a way to help Black-owned businesses that were struggling during the pandemic.

It first started at an event space she owned in Smoketown. Now, the traveling pop-up market makes its way to different locations throughout the city.

Trabue estimates that well over 500 businesses have been a part of the marketplace since it started.

“Now we’re probably well over 500 easily that have come through the journey of MELANnaire Marketplace,” Trabue said. “The beautiful thing about it now is we have a lot of our businesses who have elevated and are now in brick-and-mortar stores.”

The marketplace took on a new meaning for Trabue last year when her son, Makel Coleman, was killed in a shooting near the Pleasure Ridge Park neighborhood back in July. He was just 23-years-old.

His case is still unsolved. Trabue is trying to keep it in the public eye, hoping one day a tip will bring her closure. Makel was an aspiring entrepreneur himself, with dreams of starting a music label and clothing brand.

“It’s really helping me because one thing my son would want is for me to continue on and move forward,” Trabue said. “I’m going to be reaching out to help those in his age bracket, 18 to 24.”

Although her son didn’t get to see all of his business aspirations through, she’s now able to help other young entrepreneurs make their businesses become a reality.

“I feel Makel so much and it really helps me to keep going and driving on and keep doing the work that I’m doing because I know he’s here with me,” Trabue said.

No matter how long they’ve been a part of MELANnaire Marketplace, business owners say the exposure goes a long way in helping to get their business off the ground.

“I don’t have a lot of opportunity to display something like this, so this is absolutely crucial,” Ogy Tayo with Our Eye for Beauty LLC said.

Our Eye for Beauty sells clothing and accessories made in Nigeria, with a portion of the proceeds going back to the women who make them. Tayo said her pieces are a mix of Kentucky Derby fashion with African style.

“I’ve been with the MELANnaire Marketplace I think ever since they started and I love the exposure that we get,” said Taylor Frazier, the owner of Boujee Ears LLC.

Frazier sells handmade earrings made from polymer clay, with each piece named after “boujee” characters or real-life women.

“It’s very important. You’re out in front of a lot of people, you get people from out of town, you get the locals, you just get the exposure,” said Tiffany Johnson, the owner of Kipani’s Kloset, an online and mobile women’s boutique.

“It’s such an exciting moment and every year more and more people come out and support Black businesses and I’m so grateful for that,” said Monnai McDowell, the owner of St. Lucian Sea Moss by J. Cortez.

You can visit the MELANnaire Marketplace Facebook page and website for information on future events and to sign up to become a vendor.

Copyright 2024 WAVE. All rights reserved.

cincinnati-woman-creates-app-designed-to-connect-tourists-to-black-owned-businesses-–-blavity

Cincinnati Woman Creates App Designed To Connect Tourists To Black-Owned Businesses – Blavity

A Cincinnati woman is helping to shape tourism in the city for visitors by providing the ultimate guide to local Black businesses. 

In July 2023, Azizah Nubia launched Cincy Black Travel Guide to make it easier for people to get a pure experience of Black culture, FOX19 reported. When she participated in Black Tech Week during its run in the Tri-State area (New York, New Jersey and Connecticut), she noticed other people of color weren’t familiar with the annual events and activities hosted by Cincinnati’s Black community. This sparked the idea to create a platform that makes it easy for travelers to find and enjoy what her people have to offer in the city, especially since it’s the new home for the annual event since 2022.

Through the Cincy Black Travel Guide’s website, people can find amazing deals for events happening in Cincinnati. She offers affordable packages so visitors can have a high-quality experience that gives you the best bang for your buck. An app was developed for the company, and since it hit the marketplace it has “been the second most downloaded app in the country,” according to the entrepreneur per the news station.

“We have thousands of people who come to Cincinnati during that week in July and like it’s a big tourist destination for black travelers,” Nubia told FOX19, “And so I said we need a map to guide people so they can know to go to Nostalgia, go to Soul Secrets or you know if you want a restaurant where you can sit down and bring the family we have a lot of restaurants in Forest Park. I just wanted it to be an inclusive app where black people go to places where they feel comfortable and can enjoy.”

In addition, she recently secured a partnership with Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport to help her clients get the cheapest flight deals.

She’s also created the Natural Woman, which debuted as a media outlet and has since expanded into a personal brand that hosts events and set in motion a podcast. In addition, the self-made businesswoman is the CEO of AZ Media, an advertising agency she launched to continue making her dreams a reality.

“I’m living my dreams, and every day I wake up to come into this and see AZ media suite 315 to know that my office started in my bedroom with a laptop on the bed and into where it is now, where it supports me and my family. It’s amazing,” she said.

Watch Nubia’s full interview with FOX19 below!