Browse Tag

family owned

3 mins read

Couples, Inc: D’Vonne and KeAnna Own a Mail Service Business

The Postman is a family-run mail service business based in Seattle, WA. This company serves the community as a one-stop-shop for all mailing needs.

The business is owned by husband and wife team, D’Vonne and KeAnna Pickett. They created The Postman in honor of D’Vonne’s grandfather, Jacques Chappell, who was a USPS mail carrier for 37 years.

We caught up with the couple to find out more about how they serve their community while mixing business and family.

The Postman
Keanna and D’Vonne Pickett..Photo credit Rachel at Freshchalk

What inspired you to start this business?

In 2016, we were informed by a real estate developer that the local USPS store would soon be leaving our neighborhood. We looked at this as a great opportunity to get into the mailbox and shipping business.

We felt confident about this decision because the mail and shipping industry serves people and creates jobs. These are values that are important to us.

Photo credit Rachel at Freshchalk

What is the most challenging part of being an entrepreneur? What is the most rewarding?

The challenging part about being an entrepreneur for us is knowing the world never stops and is constantly changing. As entrepreneurs, we understand the only constant is change.

However, the anxiety and fears we experience from change also drive us to be flexible. Being flexible in our business is what helps us create solutions that serve humanity.

Like the quote says, “It’s not the strongest or the smartest of species that services, it’s the most adaptable to change.”

the postman
Photo credit Rachel at Freshchalk

How do you balance marriage and business?

Our roles in our marriage are similar to our roles in our business. In our family, D’Vonne is the CEO as well as in our company. Meaning, he is the face of the company and is responsible for maintaining our mission and vision. Keanna is the COO and handles the details in our family as well as our company.

Although we both have titles, the total responsibility is shared because we are both owners, and to have a strong successful family and business we are invested equally.

the postman

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Believe you can succeed through experiences of failure on your quest to become a successful entrepreneur. Failures should be welcomed. Through failure, an entrepreneur can test their bandwidth. Their capacity to be stretched through different experiences on their quest to expansion. The key is to become the strength of the band as you expand.

Tony O. Lawson

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8 mins read

This Family Owned Business Closed over $500 Million in Real Estate Deals In One Year

National Standard Abstract is a family owned title insurance company located in Floral Park, NY. In 2018 they closed more than $500 million in commercial real estate transactions and have since closed over $1billion in transactions.

In June 2018, NSA closed a total of $432 million in faith-based and affordable-housing development transactions. The non-faith-based deals include the $189 million Archer Green in Jamaica, Queens; the $47 million Regina Pacis Housing in Gravesend, Brooklyn; and a $42 million project in Harlem.

We spoke with NSA founder and CEO, Osei Rubie to learn more about him, his background, and future plans.

family owned
Osei Rubie

What led you to get involved in the title insurance industry?

14 years ago, I was refinancing my personal residence and once I realized that title insurance was required; I did not want to pay for this cost, perceiving it as optional. The bank attorney then explained that this was a mandatory cost that the bank required to confirm that they were no current defects in title, violations, liens, or outstanding judgments.

I then asked the bank attorney, who happened to be a friend of mine, if he had a business relationship with the title insurance company; which led to him setting up a meeting for me to speak with them after the closing. After meeting with the company, I learned that they were not only publicly traded, but the largest underwriter of title insurance in the country.

At the time I was working with a pharmaceutical company, so when a permanent position to begin as a sales executive 2 weeks after we met was offered, I accepted thus beginning my career in the title insurance industry.

NSA focuses on faith-based affordable housing development projects. Why did you decide to focus on this niche?

New York City’s independent churches represent a significant portion of land ownership. As a result of Mayor de Blasio’s housing initiative, developers are constantly looking for new opportunities to create development projects, leading to the partnering of the two entities to create a faith-based affordable housing market.

This opportunity allowed us at National Standard Abstract to achieve our business mission in conjunction with our social mission.  Here at National Standard Abstract, we strive to identify new sources of transactions to provide title insurance; as well as focusing on underdeveloped communities and advancing the growth of affordable housing.

Your father is an entrepreneur. Briefly describe his influence on your professional life.

My grandfather (Costa Rican), as well as my mother and father, were all entrepreneurs, in addition to numerous other family members.

We lived in Liberia, West Africa for several years during my childhood, during which my mother and father started multiple businesses that included, 3 clothing retail stores for men and women, a clothing manufacturing facility for school and military uniforms, as well as a restaurant.

Upon our return to the United States, my parents were driven by the void of representation for black children within the toy industry. The passion to fill this void gave birth to one of the first mass-produced black toy lines in the country, Huggy Bean Doll. This product was in all major retailers on a national basis that sold toys (Toys R US, Walmart, Kmart, Target, etc.).

I was directly involved in this process at the end of my high-school career, by actively presenting new toy product lines to these retailers. This intense exposure to entrepreneurship both domestically and internationally was the ultimate training ground.

family owned
Osei Rubie (right), founder and CEO of NSA and his son, Nadir Rubie.

In the past 5 years, what new belief, behavior or habit has most improved your life?

The Power of Faith and Overcoming Doubt.

When I started in title insurance, they were many comments made to me that it was unlikely that I would be able to succeed as an entrepreneur in title insurance. So much so that people would tell me that my aspirations of owning my own firm were time not well spent.

In October 2017 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. This potentially terminal illness also has another layer of complexity in that there has been a significant advancement in technology for this procedure (laparoscopic radical prostatectomy (LRP)). In the past, 10-12 years ago, this procedure could have a variety of results including impotence, but with new laparoscopic radical prostatectomy, this risk has been substantially minimized.

I had the surgery in February of this year and when first diagnosed I was told that because of my aggressive and intense schedule with my business, I would need to adjust my schedule accordingly and to expect my business revenue and sales goals to be reduced. Mental and physical conditioning has always been a major part of my business and life prep toolbox.

I’m happy to say that I defeated cancer this year making a complete recovery; while simultaneously having my best year in title insurance in my 14-year career.

Where do you see this business in 5 years?

Our goal within the next 5 years is to be the premier provider of title insurance nationally. We have provided title insurance for 2 multi-million-dollar commercial transactions in the state of New Jersey since we have begun in 2015, one for $15 million and the other for $35 million.

Our pipeline is filled with new out of state multi-million-dollar commercial transactions. Our focus on continuing to strengthen our position of leadership in the state of New York on multi-million-dollar commercial transactions will grow from this year’s banner accomplishment of over $600 million dollars closed and $274 million in Faith-Based development

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

First, assemble an informal team and then transition to a formal advisory team, including but not limited to legal, accounting, financing, and expert or experts within the field that you have an interest in.

By surrounding yourself with these individuals to give feedback and technical instruction on processes and procedures in your industry of interest, you can maximize your ability to bypass traditional problems and errors in a startup environment, and also maximize your ability to accomplish “stretch goals” in a short period of time.


-Tony O. Lawson

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2 mins read

9 Black Mother and Child Owned Businesses

In celebration of Black mothers, we’ve put together a list of Black Mother & Child Owned businesses.

Black Mother and Child Owned Businesses

Mr.Cory’s Cookies (Englewood, NJ) produces cookies without stuff we cannot pronounce or understand. The ingredients they add into their treats are natural and organic. (Owners Cory Nieves and Lisa Howard)

Gymnetics (Atlanta, GA) is a fitness center that offers personalized nutritional advice, customized weight loss programs and a work-out regime that is totally unique to you and your body. (Owners: Ellen Ector and her daughter Lana Ector)

Paige &Paxton (Evanston, IL) uses adorable puzzle piece characters, to teach complex STEM subjects to children as young as 3 years old. (Owners: Rachel O. Williams and her daughter, Kelley O. Cambry)

Bankable Marketing Strategies (Detroit, MI) offers client’s proven experience in the development, management and execution of marketing campaigns, initiatives and events. (Owners: Sharon Banks, her daughter Erica Banks and son, Eliot Banks)

Seasoned Vegan (New York, NY) offers vegan dishes from organic ingredients prepared with global flavors. (Owners: Brenda Beener and her son Aaron Beener)

BookCense Bookkeeping (Hayward, CA) offers affordable bookkeeping services for businesses across the U.S. (Owners: Mother and son, Lela and Donnell Dantzler)

Urban One (Silver Spring, MD) is a national cable and satellite television network. (Owners: Cathy Hughes and son Alfred C. Liggins III)

Source Booksellers (Detroit, MI) is a bookstore that offers a unique niche of non-fiction books and unusual sidelines.(Owners: Janet Jones and daughter Alyson Jones)

Martha Lou’s Kitchen (Charleston, SC) offers homemade soul food to Charleston locals and tourists. This local institution, which has been featured on the Travel Channel and Food Network and in the New York Times. (Owner: Martha Lou Gadsden and daughter Debra)


-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson (IG @thebusyafrican)