SHOPPE BLACK

Black Owned Plant-Based Hair Extension Brand Raises $1.4 Million

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Many Black women and men wear their hair in protective styles such as twists and braids that use hair extensions that are often made from plastic.

According to a 2020 report by Refinery29, synthetic hair is made up of “ultra-fine strands of plastic” and non-biodegradable materials like polyester, acrylic, and PVC that contribute to landfills. Synthetic hair can also cause severe scalp irritation and itchiness on contact.

black Owned Plant-Based
Image credit: Rebundle

This scalp irritation is what inspired Rebundle, a Black owned plant-based hair extension brand, to offer a biodegradable alternative to synthetic braiding hair.  They are the first beauty brand to address both the health and environmental disparities in the hair extensions industry.

Black Owned Plant-Based
Image credit: Rebundle

The St. Louis-based startup is led by co-founder and CEO Imani May and co-founder and chief marketing officer Danielle Washington.

May got the idea for Rebundle after experiencing discomfort from her braids while wearing braids back to back as she grew her hair out.

When the brand officially launched its first product, Braid Better hair, in Jan. 2021, the pre-order inventory sold out within a month, with over 14% of sales coming directly from Instagram. The page also grew from 1,000 followers to now over 14,000.

Black Owned Plant-Based
Image credit: Rebundle

The product is made from naturally extracted banana fiber, which is sourced internationally. The hair can be cut, dyed, and manipulated the same as any other hair. It is also resistant to heat and can be flat ironed.

Yesterday, the Rebundle announced that it has raised $1.4 million in a pre-seed round.

Several investors participated in Rebundle’s financing, including St. Louis startup funder Arch Grants, a nonprofit. Other investors included RareBreed Ventures, M25, Closed Loop Partners’ Ventures Group, Sku’d Ventures, Chicago Early, Big Delta Capital, Precursor Ventures, Evergreen Climate Innovations and Innocreative Capital.

The new investment will be used to plans to add additional team members and establish a new local manufacturing facility.

Tony O. Lawson


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This Black Owned Kitchen Lifestyle Brand Helps You Prepare and Serve Meals with Style

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Kitchen Strong is a Black owned kitchen lifestyle brand that offers high-quality kitchen essentials that provide the best experience in both preparing and serving your food in style.

The company was founded in 2020 by native Detroiters and husband and wife duo Donnie Morgan and Dr. Dayna Morgan. We caught up with them to find out more about their business.

Black Owned Kitchen
Kitchen strong founders, Dr. Dayna Morgan and Donnie Morgan

What inspired you to start your business?

The pandemic afforded us the opportunity to take daily walks, in which we were able to talk about our next move in life. We lost some family members during the pandemic, and that forced us to reflect on the importance of following our dreams and building a legacy for our family. 

During one of our walks, we brainstormed different ideas, and we decided we wanted to create something that truly reflected our lifestyle and was useful, practical, and elegant. We thought, “We love to cook, we have ‘strong’ cooking skills, and we love to entertain at home.” Then BOOM, Kitchen Strong was born – a lifestyle kitchen essentials brand. 

Black Owned Kitchen

The Kitchen Strong brand is reflective of both our lifestyles. Donnie is a healthy lifestyle content creator, who shows his YouTube followers how to prepare healthy flavorful meals using high quality multifunctional cutting boards.

Dr. Dayna, who loves to entertain at home and was always looking for modern stylish serving boards or trays. Therefore, we decided to create a line that included the kitchen essentials we needed and always wanted. 

As a couple how do your individual skills or personalities compliment your business?

Our individual skills are what contribute to the success of our business. We have been together for over 10 years, and through this time we have learned each other’s strengths and challenges. We were able to leverage that information to define our roles within the business, which helps to create healthy boundaries.

For example, Donnie is more technical and directs the integration of technology into the business, whereas Dayna is highly structured and enjoys engaging with people and therefore manages customer and manufacturer relationships. Both of us provide input on the products.  

Black Owned Kitchen

What are some of the most important business related lessons you’ve learned as business owners?

There are so many, LOL. 

  • It is important to document all processes and procedures. 
  • We often underbudgeted for necessary items so we learned to include cushion in all the line items. 
  • Be very specific in contracts and agreements – including manufacturers and brand partners – especially when funds are exchanged. 
  • Patience. It takes time to build a business. You must accept the good with the bad. 
  • Note that things are not ever as bad as they seem at that moment. 

What are your long term goals for your business?

We aim for Kitchen Strong to be a household name and the go to company for kitchen and dining essentials. 

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?

Follow your dreams and let your passion motivate you. It is easy to be overwhelmed but remember companies that last are not built overnight. Talk with other like-minded business owners to create a support system.

Don’t let your toughest days end your journey – it will be tough but remember your why to get through the challenges. Lastly, make sure to have the right team – vet people out to make sure they are qualified to do the job that you hire them for. 

Tony O. Lawson


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Black Owned Cannabis Brand Raises $13 Million To Expand Operations

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Viola is a Black owned cannabis brand that is a producer and licensed wholesaler of premium cannabis products.

In 2011, NBA veteran Al Harrington was inspired to launch the brand by his grandmother, Viola, who suffers from glaucoma and diabetes and found solace in cannabis remedies.

black owned cannabis
Viola founder, Al Harrington

Through initiatives like Viola Cares, the company seeks to create entrepreneurial opportunities for communities of color in the cannabis industry, offering education, expungement, and incubation programs for minorities.

“We’re trying to change the stigma and change people’s lives,” Harrington said, adding, “especially when Cannabis was something used to destroy our community,” said Harrington in a statement.

Today the company announced the closing of a $13 million equity funding round. DelMorgan & Co., an internationally recognized investment banking firm headquartered in Santa Monica, California, acted as an exclusive strategic transaction advisor to Viola in connection with the transaction.

The news follows a series of milestones in 2021 that include the celebration of the brand’s 10th anniversary and a partnership with Basketball Hall of Famer Allen Iverson on an exclusive cannabis strain.

black owned cannabis

This latest round of funding allows Viola to expand into several key new markets, including Pennsylvania, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland, and continue executing on strategic marketing initiatives.

To keep up with demand and pursue further expansion, Viola is also considering raising additional capital aimed at increasing supply to meet market demand.

Tony O. Lawson


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Black Owned Pet Food Business Raises $19 Million

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PetPlate is a Black owned pet food business that sells ready-to-eat meals and organic treats and supplements for dogs through an online subscription service and the independent pet retail channel.

PetPlate founder Renaldo Webb credits the inspiration behind the company to his work as a consultant for pet food companies, where he learned about the ingredients going into kibble. When he saw the ingredients being used in traditional dog food he was appalled. He realized that pet owners wanted a fresh option.

Black owned pet food business
PetPlate founder Renaldo Webb

All products are made in a USDA facility and are developed by Webb in collaboration with veterinary nutritionist Dr. Renee Streeter, DVM, DACVN.

According to Packaged Facts, U.S. retail sales of pet food will reach $37.1 billion in 2021, up 6.4% over 2020. Sales are projected to reach $47.9 billion in 2025, equating to a robust 6.6% compound annual growth rate.

By 2025, it is estimated that e-commerce will account for 55% of total U.S. pet food sales, including purchases initiated online through the digital storefronts of brick-and-mortar retailers.

Black Owned Pet Food Business

The demand for super-premium pet food is likely to invigorate the industry for years to come, spurred by natural formulations and science-based foods and the advance of non-traditional forms, most significantly fresh (refrigerated/frozen).

“PetPlate is uniquely positioned to respond to consumer demand for healthier pet food options that lead to better health outcomes for our pets,” said Webb. “Unlike traditional kibble, PetPlate products do not contain rendered meats, by-products, or artificial ingredients that can make a dog sick. Each meal is gently cooked and made with healthy ingredients for a complete and balanced diet. Dogs on a PetPlate diet experience an array of health benefits, including better digestion, weight control, more energy, and allergy relief. ”

Black Owned Pet Food Business

Last month, the New York-based startup announced that it had closed $19 million dollars in series B funding.

The investment round was led by Pendulum, with follow-on investment from existing investors DF Enterprises and 301 INC. Other investors include Conversion Venture Capital (CVC2), plus existing investors Marco Polo, Inc., Fernbrook Capital Management, and Amity Supply.

Tony O. Lawson


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Meet Sangu Delle, one of Africa’s Most Successful Investors

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Sangu Delle is a Ghanaian investor, entrepreneur, activist, and author. He has received several international accolades including being named Africa’s “Young Person of the Year”, a TEDGlobal Fellow, one of Forbes’ top 30 most promising entrepreneurs in Africa.

Sangu serves as CEO of Africa Health Holdings, an innovative company focused on building Africa’s healthcare future.

In November, African Health Holdings raised $18 million to expand its telemedicine service beyond Ghana to Nigeria and Kenya, and scale its network of health facilities.

He is also the Chairman of Golden Palm Investments (“GPI”); an investment holding and advisory company focused on building world class technology companies in Africa.

Via GPI, Sangu has been an early investor in several African tech startups including Andela and Flutterwave, two of only three West African companies valued at one billion U.S. dollars.

In this interview, Sangu and I discuss:

  • His journey from Ghana to the U.S. and back to Ghana.
  • Why he pivoted from investing in agriculture to focus exclusively on technology
  • What inspired his passion for building Africa’s healthcare future.
  • The importance of Africans and the Black diaspora collaborating on economic and social issues.
  • Advice for those interested in investing in startups based on the continent.

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Tony O. Lawson


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AMP Global, Empowering Creators and Giving a Voice to Music Fans Across the Continent

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Three-time Emmy-nominated producer and host Derrick N. Ashong is the CEO and co-founder of AMP Global Technologies, the company behind the Take Back the Mic (TBTM) app, and The Mic: Africa, the first interactive TV format born on the continent.

This tech-enabled entertainment company helps content producers build a direct relationship with their audience and be rewarded for discovering and sharing trending content.

amp global

The “AMP-powered series”, Take Back the Mic: The World Cup of Hip Hop was the first 100% fan curated series to get an Emmy nod, becoming a back-to-back Emmy Finalist for Outstanding Interactive Programing and proving itself in the market with deep engagement, media impressions, and ROI across Mobile, Digital, TV, VR and Live media.

AMP Global also gives brands and media companies deep insight into global youth audiences.

amp global

In this interview with Lucia and Derrick, we discussed:

  • The inspiration behind “The Mic: Africa”, the first interactive TV format on the African continent
  • Why the Take Back the Mic app, is sometimes described as “Netflix meets Instagram.”
  • How the Take Back the Mic app empowers artists and creators.
  • How the pandemic influenced a key feature of the app, benefiting users.

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Watch all 5 episodes of “The Mic: Africa” Season 1 and download the Take Back the Mic app at www.takebackthemic.com.

 

Tony O. Lawson


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America’s Black Holocaust Museum Receives $10 Million Commitment To Fund Reopening

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America’s Black Holocaust Museum has received a $10 million commitment from an anonymous donor to fund its reopening next year and sustain its operations moving forward.

The donation, which was made through the Greater Milwaukee Foundation will support the museum’s plans to open its new space at 401 W. North Ave. on Feb. 25 and a strategic plan developed by consultant NMBL Strategies that “provides a roadmap to growth and sustainability for generations to come,” the museum said in an announcement.

America’s Black Holocaust Museum

“At a time of hyperpolarization, we are in dire need of safe spaces and opportunities created to bring us together to explore difficult issues, to learn, and to celebrate our history,” said Dr. Robert Davis, president, and chief executive officer of America’s Black Holocaust Museum. “The reemergence of the museum is critical at this time for Bronzeville, Milwaukee, and nationally, and I am honored and humbled to continue the work and the legacy of our founder, Dr. James Cameron, as a result of this generous commitment.”

The commitment will be carried out in two phases, an initial $5 million gift that has already been made and a future commitment of another $5 million. The first will support expanding and enhancing the building’s exhibits, along with adding key staff positions and community programming.

The expansion will include ABHM’s recent acquisition of the adjacent former Community Warehouse Inc. building at 324 W. North Ave. for academic programming. State records show ABHM acquired the 36,900-square-foot building for $950,000. The building will provide office space, classrooms, exhibits, a small auditorium and parking.

The late James Cameron, who survived a lynching in 1930 when he was 16 years old, founded the original America’s Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee in 1988 to explore under-told stories of the African American experience and the harmful legacy of slavery and to promote racial repair, reconciliation and healing. Cameron died in 2006 when he was 92.

America’s Black Holocaust Museum
James Herbert Cameron, founder of the Black Holocaust Museum

The museum closed its doors as a result of the Great Recession in 2008 and has provided virtual programming since 2012. The new space was built as part of a larger mixed-use project at the corner of Vel R. Phillips Avenue and North Avenue. At one time, ABHM planned to reopen during the Democratic National Convention, but the COVID-19 pandemic rendered the convention a largely virtual event and the museum put its reopening plans on hold.

Davis said work still needs to be done on the museum’s exhibits, as well as most of its AV.

America’s Black Holocaust Museum 

“This is just a start to a journey that is continuing the legacy of Dr. Cameron,” Davis during the donation announcement Wednesday. “… This is a jumpstart. And one of the things the donor was really, really crystal clear about is that this gift is not going to be the end-all; this significant gift is going to plant the seeds that will be nourished by the community and this organization to grow a tree of life. And that is what this gift is supposed to do.”

The second funding phase will support “long-term goals of sustainability and development of the museum to ensure the mission and vision can be carried out in perpetuity,” the museum said.

“With this new investment, America’s Black Holocaust Museum is poised for growth as an unparalleled destination for knowledge and connection – a jewel in our city that enhances the surrounding neighborhoods and serves as a beacon for racial justice everywhere,” said Ellen Gilligan, president and CEO of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. “The generational work of ABHM aligns with the foundation’s vision of a Milwaukee for all, and on behalf of our anonymous donor, we hope this commitment inspires others to support and sustain the museum in its vital mission.”

Source: Biz Times

Meet The Black Woman Rocket Scientist who is Building in the Metaverse

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Mary Spio is a deep space engineer, tech innovator, and entrepreneur. She is also the CEO and Founder of CEEK VR Inc, a blockchain based streaming service for virtual events and other virtual experiences.

The CEEK VR platform includes a patented VR headset currently available at major retailers like Best Buy and Target. In addition, CEEK VR features artists like Ziggy Marley, and much more.

The platform simulates the communal experience of attending a live concert, being in a classroom, attending a sporting event and other ‘money can’t buy’ exclusive experiences with friends from anywhere at anytime.

ceek vr

In this interview, with Mary, we discuss:

  • Creating several patented products.
  • Presenting the idea of the metaverse to Facebook in 2015.
  • The role of NFT’s in the metaverse.
  • How her cryptocurrency, CEEK coin helps creators monetize their content.
  • CEEK’s role in the upcoming Black-In Festival.

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Tony O. Lawson


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Former NFL Player Frank Gore Discusses His Debut Boxing Match on the All Boxes Checked Podcast

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Former NFL running back Frank Gore sat down for an interview with All Boxes Checked Podcast, National Standard Abstract’s (NSA) new multimedia platform to discuss his career transition, family legacy, advice for pro athletes, and his outlook on the debut boxing match.

frank gore
Former NFL running back Frank Gore, above, will make his boxing debut against former NBA guard Deron Williams. Jose Pineiro/Showtime

Gore, a 16-year NFL veteran and potential Hall of Famer, is a living testament of what it takes to play on the field. Despite the numerous career obstacles and injuries, he ranks third in league history with 16,000 rushing yards. Although Gore has not announced his retirement, he opted not to play during the 2021 season to spend more with his family while exploring his odds with a new sport – boxing – swapping out his cleats for a pair of gloves.

Like many parents balancing a career while building a family legacy, the father of two shared an important decision that he had to make regarding his son’s career aspirations. Being the child of a high-profile athlete comes with many expectations and spectators. 

“Since he was like three or four years old, I knew that he wanted to play ball. As a dad, I never pushed him. I let him enjoy being a child. I knew when he got into high school  his junior year that was when I took him under my wing and let him start training with me,” said Frank Gore Sr. “Don’t try to be me, be the best you can be. He’s been doing it. I just want him to keep his head down and keep working his behind off. Keep having fun.” 

The father-son duo has trained rigorously for years alongside NFL players. Today, his eldest son and namesake, Gore Jr., is a running back for the University of Southern Mississippi. 

frank gore
Lynne Sladky/AP/Shutterstock (Gore Sr.); David E. Klutho (Gore Jr.)

“NFL All-Time Great Frank Gore has such an important voice that we wanted to feature on the All Boxed Checked Podcast because of who he is and what he represents. Frank has heart, persistence, respect for the game and his teammates.

His life experience resonates with so many Black fathers raising sons and doing their best to set the right example. As a father, I recognize the weight of responsibility we shoulder and how crucial it is to create a path that our children can follow to live responsibly and financially free. Our struggles may not be the same, but we share a common goal – legacy building,” said Osei Rubie, president and founder of National Standard Abstract

“Being part of a family that also works together can be challenging at times, especially with a parent-dynamic and societal pressure to follow in their footsteps. However, I would never trade the opportunity to work alongside my dad, mentor, and business partner because the experience is worthwhile.

In the six years since he started National Standard Abstract, we have collaborated on projects to build our communities and generational wealth. We plan to continually open more doors to help break the cycle of poverty holding many families from achieving financial security,” Nadir Rubie, a partner at National Standard Abstract.

frank gore

Although it remains unclear if or when Gore Sr. will return to the game, he is mentoring his 19-year-old son and hopes to do the same for the next generation of NFL players.

“Take it one day at a time. You’ve got to go out there and give it your all because the game can be taken from you. The NFL won’t be promised to you; I had to grind to get it. Don’t listen to anybody trying to judge you just because another man couldn’t do it. It’s all in you. Work your behind off, keep your head down, respect your elders, respect the guys that you’re on the field with, and respect the game. And you can go as far as you want,”  said Gore Sr.

On Saturday, December 18th, Gore Sr. will face former NBA point guard Deron Williams within the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida, as the undercard of Jake Paul vs. Tommy Fury. According to Gore Sr., people will be surprised. 

Watch the “All Boxes Checked” interview with Frank here.

frank gore

About National Standard Abstract

National Standard Abstract is a full-service title insurance agency with expertise in faith-based developments, residential and commercial real estate transactions. Since launching in 2015, the family- and black-owned firm has closed over $1 billion in transactions within the New York metropolitan area. As the bridge to building one community at a time, National Standard Abstract expanded its footprint into philanthropy through the Osei Rubie Charitable Fund to help end racial inequity and support the organizations working on the ground to create real change.

About the All Boxes Checked Podcast

From commercial and residential real estate to financial investment and community empowerment, the All Boxes Checked podcast educates listeners on building wealth while circulating money within the Black community. Featured guests include business professionals and philanthropists to public officials and government agencies that will share their insights on the real estate and title insurance industries in addition to the growth of Black-owned businesses.

The All Boxed Checked Podcast is now available on all streaming platforms. 

Black Owned Pet Daycare Now Run By Former Employee Who Has Revived and Expanded The Business

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Paws and Tales Puppy Playgroup is a Black owned pet daycare business that provides daycare for the furry members of families in the New York metro area.

The company is owned by certified dog handler, Curtis Giddings, whose mission is to provide a safe and healthy space daycare and for pups to learn to socialize with other dogs as well as humans. 

According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), pet ownership rose to an all-time high of 70% due to people seeking companionship while sheltering in place as a result of the pandemic. As a result of the company’s growth, Curtis recently added grooming services.

We caught up with Curtis to find out more about his business.

black owned pet daycare

What inspired you to get into the dog training business?

I grew up in a New York apartment that didn’t allow pets but once my family and I moved to New Jersey, I was able to finally get a dog.

My love for dogs grew into a passion for learning about how to support a happy pup, as well as all the different attributes of an effective dog trainer.

When I was older, I went through a dog training program in Queens, NY, and was eventually hired as a dog trainer at a local pet sitter Paws & Tales, which I took over as owner in 2017.

black owned pet daycare

When you took over the business in 2017, it wasn’t doing well. Explain what was done to bring it back to life?

The business was in a rut, and I made it my mission to bring it back. I was perfectly qualified to run the dog training aspect of it, but not so much the business side. That’s when I discovered Rising Tide Capital where Cynthia Pullen, an RTC mentor, guided me through the process of registering the business and expanding its reach.

Unfortunately, she has since passed, a loss I wasn’t prepared for. But Cynthia, along with the Rising Tide family, was an integral part of my success as an entrepreneur and my growth as a person.

She provided much needed guidance to me, and it is of the utmost importance to ensure that I continue to make her proud. The business itself has been around since 2009 but I’ve been expanding over the years. My two locations are in Jersey City, where I have ample space for neighborhood pups to run around and socialize safely.

They are located in McGinley Square for small dogs up to 30 lbs and Downtown Jersey City for pups 30 lbs and over, serving Jersey City and the surrounding areas.

black owned pet daycare

How has the pandemic affected your business?

During the pandemic, I recognized the importance and worth of my work. While the world was in limbo, dog owners stayed home with their dogs and many families adopted new dogs.

But due to COVID-19 restrictions, many were unable to socialize their dogs or develop a healthy regimen for when they returned to work.

We’re in the process of implementing new services such as pick-ups and drop-offs, which follow coronavirus guidelines. Many of the businesses that provide similar services aren’t as comprehensive as what we offer.

Our mission is to be a leader in the pet care and socialization industry and place a priority on the mental and physical needs of pets.

Where do you see the business 5 years from now?

We are currently doing market research for an upcoming rebrand that I’m really excited about. And in 5 years, my team and I see ourselves as a micro-franchise that provides a myriad of high-quality services.

We want to support the dog owner’s lifestyle and are looking to offer products and services that cater to this demographic in the form of educational services where dog owners can consult with me for personalized advice on dog ownership, as well as branded apparel.

Additionally, we will be moving towards more of a structured daily routine for the dogs. Based on the feedback from clients, I want to ensure their dogs go home with the benefit of emotional, physical, and mental stimulation from a hands-on approach.

We’re also adapting our approach to a more customized method so that, in addition to free roam and play, each pup gets individualized, focused attention.

We have been working to improve our internal processes so that every client’s needs are met with grace and consideration, particularly being that we have hired more experienced staff to assist in this transition.

Tony O. Lawson


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