Browse Tag


3 mins read

New research shows link between Vitamin D and COVID-19

According to a recent study by researchers from the Azrieli Faculty of Medicine of Bar-Ilan University in Safed, Israel and the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya, Israel—vitamin D deficiency may contribute to the severity of the disease from Covid-19 infection.

The role of vitamin D in protecting against severe COVID-19 is less well established. Continue reading to find out the link between vitamin D and COVID-19.

What Does the Research Suggest?

When comparing patients who had sufficient vitamin D levels before contracting COVID-19 with those who did not, scientists found “striking” differences in the chances of serious illness.

According to a study published in the journal PLOS One, people with vitamin D deficiency before getting COVID-19 were more likely to develop a severe illness than those who had an adequate amount of vitamin D in their blood.

Dr. Amiel Dror, a physician at the Galilee Medical Center and author of the study, said, “It was quite remarkable and striking to see the difference in the chances of becoming a severe patient when one lacks vitamin D as opposed to when one does not.”

The findings are based on 253 admissions to Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya, Israel, between April 7, 2020, and February 4, 2021—before the highly contagious Omicron variant emerged.

Is Vitamin D Effective against COVID-19?

ACCORDING TO DROR, Vitamin D is believed to be a key player in the immune system’s ability to deal with viruses that attack the respiratory system.

According to the UK Health Security Agency, the research does not advocate avoiding vaccinations and taking supplements instead. Vaccines reduce the risk of Omicron hospitalization by up to 90%, especially after a booster shot.

The many health benefits of vitamin D include:

  • Promoting healthy bones and teeth.
  • Lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Supporting the immune system.

During the pandemic, physicians advised their patients to take vitamin D to boost their immune systems. However, there is little evidence to support this advice.

The majority of vitamin D is obtained from direct sunlight on the skin. It can also be found in foods like fatty fish, mushrooms, egg yolks, and supplements.

For most people, vitamin D levels of over 20 nanograms per milliliter are considered sufficient, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—which is also the benchmark used by researchers at Bar-Ilan University and Galilee Medical Center.

Research conducted before the emergence of COVID-19 found that vitamin D reduces the risk of other respiratory infections compared to dummy drugs.

In their published report, the researchers concluded—”Our study contributes to a constantly evolving body of evidence that suggests a patient’s history of vitamin D deficiency is a predictive risk factor associated with poorer COVID-19 clinical disease course and mortality.”

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6 mins read

Black Owned FinTech Firm To Disburse $2 Billion in COVID Relief Grants

Back in November of 2020, Lendistry, a Black owned Fintech firm was selected to administer $500 million in grants to small businesses, nonprofits, and cultural institutions impacted by the pandemic across California.

After successfully disbursing the grants on behalf of the California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program, Lendistry has now been tasked with administering quadruple that amount, to the tune of $2.075 billion.

Lendistry will provide grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 for qualified small businesses and nonprofits, with $50 million allocated specifically for California nonprofit cultural institutions.

“The demand for funding has been immense, with small businesses and nonprofits reaching out for relief and support as they endure through this pandemic,” said Everett K. Sands, Lendistry’s founder and CEO. “During the initial funding rounds, we successfully connected small businesses and nonprofits with grants across all 58 counties in California, and we’re eager to use our platform to swiftly deploy this critical, additional funding so business owners can keep their lights on and serve their communities during this trying time.”

black owned fintech firm
Everett Sands, CEO of Lendistry

The latest round of funding was recently approved by the California legislature, and the relief program is being administered by California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA), part of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz).

According to a recent press release, since the launch of the initial funding rounds more than 40,000 grantees have been selected to move forward, more than 350,000 grant applications have been successfully submitted, and 87% of selected applicants represent underserved and disadvantaged small businesses.

Demand for grant funding has far surpassed supply, and this latest financing for small business relief presents an additional and necessary opportunity for eligible applicants still seeking support.

The new funding will be distributed in four additional rounds, beyond the initial funding rounds Lendistry has already completed, in the following order:

New Funding Rounds:

Round 3 (waitlisted from Rounds 1 and 2): Friday, March 5th through Thursday, March 11th, 2021

    • Eligible applicants: This is a closed round and only available to eligible applicants who were waitlisted in Rounds 1 and 2 – only existing applicants will be selected. If you were waitlisted, you do not need to reapply. New applications will not be accepted in this round.
    • Eligible grant award: $5,000 to $25,000
    • Details: This is a closed funding round; no new applications will be accepted

Round 4 (nonprofit cultural institutions only): Tuesday, March 16th through Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021

      • Eligible applicants: Only nonprofit cultural institutions with any revenue size that meet eligibility criteria found at
      • Eligible grant award: $5,000 – $25,000
      • Details: Eligible nonprofit cultural institutions must complete a new application even if they already applied in Rounds 1 and 2; grants will only be available to nonprofits that did not receive funding in Rounds 1, 2 or 3; grants will be prioritized based on the documented percentage revenue declines based on a reporting period comparing Q2 and Q3 of 2020 versus Q2 and Q3 of 2019

Round 5: Thursday, March 25th through Wednesday, March 31st

    • Eligible applicants: current waitlisted small businesses and nonprofits not selected in Rounds 1, 2, or 3 and new applicants that meet eligibility criteria found at
    • Eligible grant award: $5,000 – $25,000
    • Details: Applicants not selected to receive a grant in Rounds 1, 2, & 3 do not need to reapply as they will be automatically moved into Round 5. New applicants will need to apply at

Round 6: Date to be announced soon

    • Eligible applicants: current waitlisted small businesses and/or nonprofits not selected in Rounds 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 and new applicants that meet eligibility criteria found at
    • Eligible grant award: $5,000 – $25,000
    • Details: Applicants not selected to receive a grant in Rounds 1, 2, 3 & 5 do not need to re-apply and will be automatically moved into Round 6. New applicants will need to apply at

Lendistry is again providing application assistance through its statewide network of partners, consisting of fellow mission-based financial institutions, small business advisory and technical assistance providers, and State-supported small business centers to facilitate the application process in multiple languages and formats.

Grants will not be issued on a first-come, first-served basis and will be awarded after the close of each application round.

For funding rounds focused on small businesses and nonprofits (3, 5, & 6) the funding for California small businesses and nonprofits will again prioritize regions and industries impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, disadvantaged communities, and underserved small business groups.

For application assistance and more information on application deadlines, grant requirements, and eligibility, please visit

7 mins read

The Xavier Dillard Experiment: Two HBCU Presidents Pushing the COVID Vaccine On Their Students

The presidents of Xavier and Dillard University, C. Reynold Verret and Walter M. Kimbrough, sent an open letter last Wednesday to announce their participation in the Ochsner Medical System’s vaccine trial. This outreach strategy sounds progressive because Black people are 2.5x more likely to die from COVID-19 than white people. We do indeed need a race/informed solution to this public health crisis. 

The letter encouraged Black and Brown students and faculty to participate in the vaccine trial while still acknowledging the medical apartheid that our health system sanctions. These HBCU presidents stated that “It is of the utmost importance that a significant number of black and brown subjects participate so that the effectiveness of these vaccines be understood across the many diverse populations that compromise these United States.” However, stating that we are the most harmed and affected by the virus does not justify encouraging us to once again put our bodies on the line for the advancement of medicine. Specifically mentioning the Tuskegee syphilis experiments to reach the generations that were directly harmed, plays into our sensitivity in an extremely distasteful manner.

While HBCUs are supposed to uplift and invest in Black futures, we can not at the same time ignore racist infrastructure or make light of the history of torture, sterilization, and experimentation. As a Howard University student, I am too aware of the anti-Black structures of our HBCUs and how that internalized White supremacy negatively impacts the student body that generates the culture, research, and excellence that we revere. Black Institutions that carry our history are well-informed on this truth and yet perpetuate it too often. We are used for science but seldom gain access to the benefits garnered from the sacrifices on our bodies.

Dr. J. Marion Sims is considered the father of gynecology and performed experiments on enslaved African women, in order to advance medicine for White women. Between 1846 and 1849 he performed surgeries on African women without anesthesia. Once he perfected the procedures, he moved to New York, opened a hospital, and operated on White women, but this time with anesthesia. Black women still face this trauma today when entering reproductive health practices that still reflect that history within their current practices. Ultimately, the origins of gynecological research is a direct correlation to why Black women are 3 to 4x more likely to experience maternal mortality or morbidity. The sickening reality of our personal treatment extends to medical research.

 Modern cancer treatment also owes everything to a Black woman —Henrietta Lacks. While even today, Black women like Lacks receive inadequate care and face discrimination.  “She’s the most important person in the world and her family living in poverty. If our mother is so important to science, why can’t we get health insurance?” says one of Lacks descendants. 

“Whether you think the commercialization of medical research is good or bad depends on how into capitalism you are.” Rebecca Skloot, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

I wonder whether or not funding played a role in both presidents offering up not only their young people, our community’s future leaders, but also themselves, their families, and faculty and staff. Poverty is government sanctioned. There is an intentional withholding of health and wellness from our communities in order to perpetuate racialized capitalism. 

If we can’t expect our local hospitals and urgent care centers to treat us with equity and dignity, then we can no longer use our bodies to advance science for the rest of y’all. 

In North Carolina, for over 40 years, a statewide eugenics program forcibly sterilized thousands of Black people. The program was designed to decrease the Black population in the state. In fact, a recent Duke University study showed  that the program’s disproportionate effect on Black people was no accident—“program was designed explicitly to ‘breed out’ nonworking Black residents.” The racist political agenda that exists in science has to be demolished not for our ‘advancement’, but for our survival. 

The aforementioned stories only scratch the surface of the realities of our community’s relationship with the American health care system. For these reasons and countless others, we don’t trust it. “According to a May report from the Pew Research Center, Black Americans trust doctors less than their White counterparts, but they trust medical researchers a whole lot less, with only 53 percent expressing a positive opinion of people in that profession.” 

Xavier and Dillard University must rethink this outreach program that asks Black students to be on the frontlines of COVID research. There cannot be spontaneous trust in our medical facilities. Our bodies must be respected as much as our white counterparts. We must first heal from the experiences we carry from these traumas. Reparations and dependable reassurance of our safety are necessary for medical advancement. 

If we can’t expect our local hospitals and urgent care centers to treat us with equity and dignity, then we can no longer use our bodies to advance science for the rest of y’all. 

– Naima Bandele, Howard University, African Studies Major and student-activist

Further Readings

 New Paper Examines Disproportionate Effect of Eugenics on NC’s Black Population 

Black newborns more likely to die when looked after by White doctors 

Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Experimentation on Black Americans From Colonial Times to the Present

6 mins read

16 Year Old Secures Government Contracts, Makes International Coronavirus PPE Deal

When America needed 50,000 coronavirus masks, it turned to Wesley Ross. America didn’t care that Wesley was 15, living in Woodbury and operating from a messy desk laden with Legos and an Xbox.

Businesses were screaming for the masks, and Wesley’s young company, NorthStar Dynamics, managed to track them down in a Chinese factory.

“I got them for 41 cents per mask,” he said proudly. The disposable three-ply masks are only a small part of the business that the brash and unstoppable Wesley has been able to grab.

“I have always tried to do big things,” he said. “I was not meant to be an everyday high-schooler.”

Now 16, the rising junior has carved a niche in the business world as a bottom feeder for government contracts. He bids on contracts too small to get the attention of most businesses.

Day after day, he taps his keyboard to dig up tiny contracts for things the government needs. He then finds a manufacturer to make it, a trucking company to deliver it and the right bid for the buyer to accept it.

He’s not filling orders for $2 billion B-2 stealth bombers. But if a prison needs copy paper, or a hospital needs 50 office chairs, Wesley is on it.

He has discovered that even though the contracts are small, there are many of them – enough for $10,000 in sales last month.

“That’s how you beat the big dogs,” said Wesley. His mom, special-education teacher Rasheida Ross, remembers Wesley’s first business transactions – selling bracelets made of rubber bands, as a 7-year-old.

Wesley founded his first real business on his 15th birthday – a line of car accessories and electronics called SpeedLabs, to raise money for a car club. “I made $5,500 in one summer,” he said.

But he didn’t get serious about business until he watched the 2016 movie “War Dogs,” a fictional account of a true story. He watched, fascinated, as two young entrepreneurs landed a contract to supply $300 million in weapons to the U.S. military.

“I saw Jonah Hill in that movie, and I said, ‘I do not need to sell electronics.’ It was mind-blowing for me.”


Last July, with no startup capital or experience but plenty of self-confidence, Wesley started NorthStar Dynamics and got certified as a small and minority-owned business.

Just as in the movie, he looked over government requests for supplies and began bidding.

“I am persistent when it comes to contracts,” he said.

“A military base in Oklahoma will say they need 5,000 cans of corn. Well, I know many, many manufacturers of canned corn.”

He’s bid on lockers, paper, salt for highways. “I sent canned beans and kosher condiments to a prison in Arizona,” he said. He recently sold diesel fuel, to be loaded onto a Mississippi River barge.

His largest contract was for $115,000, for gravel delivered to a military base. On that deal, he made $11,000, which he split with a one-time contract partner.

Now, with about $3,500 a month in profit, he can afford to hire two other high school students to help the business.


Unlike his other deals, the coronavirus masks purchase did not come through the federal government. Instead, he bought the cache straight from a company in China and had them shipped to his grandparents’ house in Georgia.

He placed ads online and before long, trucks began backing up to the house.

“My goal with the masks was to get them to the public as fast as possible,” he said. He donated 250 masks for every 1,000 masks he sold, and gave 25 percent of his revenue for coronavirus relief.

Since finding success with the masks, he has branched out into supplying businesses. The website now has 285 products, but he says he can get anything a business needs. “I want to be a one-stop shop for businesses,” he said.

Wesley has no immediate plans for a more impressive headquarters.

He sheepishly describes his “quote-unquote home office” as a bedroom desk with a computer, TV, Xbox, Legos, and a 4-foot stack of papers that essentially is the filing system for NorthStar Dynamics.

“I am a creative teenager,” he shrugged. “I don’t see any other high schoolers doing this.”



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3 mins read

New $45 Million Government Grant Program Prioritizes Black Owned Businesses in New Jersey

Good news for Black owned businesses in New Jersey. The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) recently announced that applications for the expanded Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program will be available at 9:00 a.m. on June 9, 2020.

Only 12% of minority-owned businesses received federal relief funding from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). To address this disparity, NJEDA is reserving $15 million for businesses in Opportunity Zone-eligible census tracts and launching an aggressive and targeted outreach campaign so that businesses in historically underserved communities have increased access and priority for relief.

A sample application that small business owners can use to prepare is available at

The NJEDA received $50 million from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund established under the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to support small businesses.

In Phase 1 of the NJEDA’s Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program, the agency provided more than $8 million in grants to date to nearly 2,500 businesses across all 21 counties.

The NJEDA will now provide an additional $5 million to fund businesses that were waitlisted during Phase 1 and will use $45 million to fund Phase 2.

The new round will provide grants up to $10,000 to qualified applicants and aims to support a wider variety of companies, including home-based businesses and sole proprietorships. The funding is also open to churches and nonprofit organizations.

Eligibility changes for Phase 2 increase the employee cap for businesses from 10 full-time employees (FTEs) to 25 FTEs and remove the NAICS code restrictions that were in place for Phase 1 to allow almost all businesses as well as 501(c)(3), 501 (c)(4), and 501(c)(7) nonprofit organizations to qualify for funding.

Applications for Phase 2 of the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program will be available on June 9, 2020. NJEDA staff will process the applications on a first-come, first-served basis. There will be no application fee.

As part of the application, the business’s Chief Executive Officer or equivalent officer must certify that the company was in operation on February 15, 2020, has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, and will make a best effort not to furlough or lay off any employees.

To comply with duplication of benefits provisions within the Stafford Act, all applicants will also be required to fill out an affidavit identifying all funding previously received related to COVID-19, including Small Business Administration loans and grants, forgivable portions of Payroll Protection loans, and Economic Injury Disaster grants.

To learn more about NJEDA resources for businesses call NJEDA Customer Care at 609-858-6767 or visit and follow @NewJerseyEDA on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.


-Tony O. Lawson

Related: 24 Black Owned New Jersey Businesses

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Feature image: (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

3 mins read

Magic Johnson’s Insurance Company To Fund $100 Million For Black Owned Businesses

The Magic Johnson company EquiTrust Life Insurance Co, will be reportedly providing $100 million for Black-owned businesses. EquiTrust Life Insurance Co will fund the money via the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) PayCheck Protection Program, as they believe minor businesses are being ‘overlooked’ during the COVID-19 pandemic. EquiTrust Life Insurance Co is majority-owned by the Magic Johnson enterprises.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Magic Johnson company owned by Magic Johnson enterprises will be teaming up with MBE Capital Partners to provide PayCheck Protection Program loans. MBE Capital Partners is a non-bank lender that focuses on funding women-owned and minority businesses. While talking to the Wall Street Journal, Johnson stated that their initiative is important as small businesses cannot walk into a bank and ask for a loan.

Johnson added that he became aware of the problems faced by these businesses through news reports. MBE Capital’s chief executive Rafael Martinez also noticed that people applying for the PPPP were facing problems as they were reportedly favoring companies with previous relationships. After Martinez started receiving calls to help, their collaboration with the Magic Johnson company took place.

Many big companies, including Johnson’s former NBA team the Los Angeles Lakers, received the funding as they have less than 500 employees. However, they returned the funding after facing public criticism. The Magic Johnson company was aware of the reason behind small businesses not receiving the funds, especially when larger companies had good relationships with banks.

MBE and the Magic Johnson company finalized their deal this month. They were brought together by the National Action Network, which is a civil rights organization.

According to Martinez, Johnson’s $100 million will be promptly forwarded to the 5000 PayCheck Protection Program’s loans that MBE Capital had approved with the Small Business Administration. 80% of the minority-owned businesses have reportedly asked for around $25,000 owing to their small size. Their companies are apparently choosing people no one else is willing to help.

The government had reportedly instructed SBA to guide lenders in helping the small businesses. However, they reportedly failed to do so.

Magic Johnson is also looking for different ways to help minority communities, as per the Wall Street Journal. This includes raising money to help give meals to inner cities while looking to extend their deal with MBE Capital. During his interview, Johnson stated that priority will be minority communities. As per Johnson, this is a ‘life and death’ matter for many business owners and they will help them as they have ‘nowhere else to turn’.

Tony O. Lawson

Related: Black Owned Health products brand receives investment from Magic Johnson

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3 mins read

Relief Funds May Soon be Used To Provide Grants To Homeschoolers

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos plans to use $180 million in federal coronavirus relief earmarked for the hardest-hit states to create voucher-like grants for parents and to expand virtual education.

The education department will allow states to apply for a share of that money.

For DeVos, those priorities include directing more public education dollars to families, rather than school districts, and creating alternatives to traditional schools and instruction.

“The current disruption to the normal model is reaffirming something I have said for years: we must rethink education to better match the realities of the 21st century,” DeVos said in a statement Monday. “This is the time for local education leaders to unleash their creativity and ingenuity.”

In awarding these grants, the department says it will consider the coronavirus’ impact on a state — the stated purpose of the money, as allocated by Congress. But its criteria go far beyond that, raising the possibility that grants will end up in states that have not been hit hardest by the virus. Forty of the 100 points of the scoring rubric relate to a state’s coronavirus cases and ability to transition to remote instruction.

State education agencies can apply for federal money by proposing one of three things.

The first is “microgrants” — what some would call “vouchers” — meant to give families more options for remote learning. Those grants could be used to pay for tutoring, summer programs, tuition to a private or public school online program, counseling, test prep, or textbooks, among other things. The state must allow private organizations to provide those services.

The second option is for states to create a statewide virtual school or another program allowing students to access classes that their regular school doesn’t offer. States can either expand an existing program or create one from scratch.

The final option is nebulously defined: For a state to create “models for providing remote education not yet imagined, to ensure that every child is learning and preparing for successful careers and lives.”

The department says it expects to award grants of $5 million to $20 million for winning states — a tiny fraction of state education budgets and of the main pot of coronavirus response relief money headed to states. 

But during an economic downturn, states will likely be eager to get any extra money they can, and some of the ideas, like the creation of a statewide virtual school, could have a lasting impact.

The department’s regulations emphasize that students who attend private schools must be eligible to participate.


Source: Chalkbeat

2 mins read

Black Owned Telecom Company Donates Over 700,000 Units of Personal Protection Equipment to Healthcare Workers

Figgers Communications is one of the only Black owned telecom company in the United States.

Committed to making the world a better place by donating a percentage of the company’s profits to pro-social efforts, philanthropist and CEO Freddie Figgers has spearheaded a campaign to provide critical assistance to thousands of healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis.

The Florida-based non-profit is donating and distributing approximately 700,000 units of personal protection equipment (“PPE”) to Coronavirus outbreak hotspots around the country.

These hotspots include hospitals and healthcare workers in New York, Washington State, California, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, Florida, and Michigan. The donations include some of the most crucial PPE equipment such as surgical masks, N95 masks, face shields and hazardous material protective coveralls.

“When I saw the virus in China and how it affected the nearly 1.5 billion population, I knew it was only a matter of time before it struck home here in America,” said Figgers. “I knew the pandemic could potentially overwhelm our healthcare system and began planning to gather critical supplies, such as PPEs, anticipating that access to protective gear could become an issue for healthcare professionals on the front lines.

I was able to purchase these supplies directly from manufacturers before they would be overwhelmed themselves. We are grateful to be able to make this contribution and stand with American first responders as they work tirelessly to battle this global health crisis. I am personally committed to doing everything in my power to make the world a better place.”

Distribution of PPE donations will continue while supplies last – if you are a healthcare provider in need of PPE for your patient care staff, please submit a request by visiting The Figgers Foundation website at


Source: PR Web

Related: Black Owned Telecom Firm Donates 500 Free Phones to Help Families in Puerto Rico

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2 mins read

Black Millionaire Pledged $1 Million To Help The Unemployed During COVID-19 crisis

In March, Chicago based businessman and philanthropist, Willie Wilson announced he would be sending $100 to 10,000 people who have recently lost their job due to COVID-19.

Wilson has a rags-to-riches life story that began when he left his humble Louisiana home at age 13 with only a seventh-grade education. He went from earning 20 cents an hour in cotton and sugar cane fields to founding Omar Medical Supplies Inc., a business that distributes gloves and protective clothing to restaurant chains, governmental institutions, and hotels.

He has donated hundreds of thousands of masks to Sinai Health System and 22 other community organizations, 20,000 to Jackson Park Hospital, 10,000 to the Westside NAACP, 50,000 to the Chicago Transit Authority and 10,000 for correctional officers at the Cook County Jail.

He also has given masks to ministers and aldermen to hand out in the community and donated others to senior citizen facilities.

“Folks are anxious. Folks are afraid, and their future is uncertain. We’re all in this together. So, we must pull together. [In] just a small way I can help bridge the gap until the government steps up and does what’s right, quickly, for those in need. I am blessed to be able to do it,” Wilson said in a statement.

Per the Willie Wilson Foundation website, “We have exhausted our funding for this $1 Million Dollar Giveaway. If you would like to be considered for our next event, please continue to register.  ”

Willie Wilson
Looks like some folks actually got their $$

To learn more about his next event, visit the Willie Wilson Foundation website.


-Tony O. Lawson

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5 mins read

This Black Owned Candle Business Won’t Let a Pandemic Put Its Fire Out

Scent & Fire Candle Company is a Black owned candle business that makes products for those who enjoy using aroma-driven mood enhancers to beautify their environment.

We caught up with founder, Monisha Edwards to find out what she did to increase her sales in a time when many businesses are struggling.

Scent & Fire Candle Company founder, Monisha Edwards

What inspired you to start your business?

I started Scent & Fire Candle company because I have suffered from anxiety, stress, and depression for many years.

I started looking into holistic ways to alleviate stress and anxiety and stumbled upon aromatherapy. From there, I started getting into candle making. I created three signature scents for myself and being a brand strategist, I decided to design a mockup of my labels and posted them on Facebook.

Everyone wanted to buy my candles, so I set aside some time over a weekend and designed a website, ordered supplies to make more candles, come up with the name Scent & Fire, and registered the business.

I decided to use my candle company as a platform to educate about mental health, wellness, and the importance of practicing self-care.


What were your initial thoughts when you learned about the Coronavirus outbreak?

When I initially heard about the Coronavirus outbreak, I thought that it would be another Ebola or Swine Flu phase. I felt bad for the people who were contracting it and becoming ill, but I had no idea that it was what it is now.

Once I started hearing about the seriousness of the virus, I started taking extra precautions in my daily routines and started going out less often. When we were all encouraged to stay home, I basically self-quarantined even though I wasn’t sick. I have chronic asthma, so I definitely couldn’t afford to get sick.

How has it affected your business?

The Coronavirus crisis affected my business tremendously.  Sales from my online store decreased and by the time March came around, I had no income lined up, so I had to figure out how to make money to help me pay bills.

Black Owned Candle Business

What new strategies have you implemented or do you plan to implement in your business? 

My sales increased after I created a Quarantine based theme and playlists that came with the candles. The names are Socially Distant, Shelter & Chill, Living Room Flex, and Therapy In Place.

People thought that the names were really creative, and they also liked the fact that you could scan a QR code on the box that the candles come in, light the candle, and vibe out to some good music to create an experience right at home.

Once I did this, my story was picked up by the news, and sales increased even more due to people loving my story about how I basically “turned lemons into lemonade” during this tough time where many small businesses are struggling to keep doors open. I definitely made a great pivot with my candle brand, and I feel like things will do even better in the coming months.

I also plan to do more marketing via social media. I feel its essential because even after the Shelter-In-Place mandate is lifted, many people will still be cautious of going out in public or be in big crowds, and they will still be online more often than not.

Black Owned Candle Business

If you had one ask of your community right now, what would it be?

If I would ask that my community pray for and support all small businesses right now, especially black-owned businesses and establishments. We need you the most.

Share a post, buy a gift card, or patron a black-owned establishment as often as you can. Times like these are difficult and we are in dire need of support from our very own community.


–Tony O. Lawson 

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