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3 mins read

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Businesses You Should Know

For over a century, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, has exemplified the true essence of sisterhood by uplifting communities and empowering individuals.

As the first African American Greek-letter sorority with a rich history dating back to January 15, 1908, at Howard University in Washington, D.C., AKA has emerged as a formidable force in the world of entrepreneurship.

This article shines a spotlight on a selection of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority businesses. From fashion and beauty to food and home decor, these ventures are a testament to the dedication and talent of these visionary women who strive to leave a positive impact on the world.

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Businesses

The Emerald Club

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Businesses

The Emerald Club Retreat Center in Sharpsburg, Georgia is a 10-acre property that can accommodate groups of up to 100 people.

Sydney’s Sweets

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Businesses

Sydney’s Sweets is a custom cake shop and retail bakery in Long Island, NY. They offer personalized desserts for all events and ship select treats nationwide through their online store. Owner: Sydney Perry

House of Aama

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Businesses

House of Aama, established in 2015, is a Los Angeles-based brand that creates timeless garments with nostalgic references, drawing inspiration from historical research and storytelling to explore the folkways of the Black experience.  Owner: Rebecca Henry

Reminiscent Luxe Candle Lounge

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Businesses

Reminiscent Luxe Candle Lounge is a premium candle brand that draws inspiration from the vibrant essence of 90s Hip Hop and R&B. Owner: Ashley Scales

Good Cakes and Bakes

Good Cakes and Bakes is a Detroit-based, family-owned bakery, on a mission to offer wholesome and organic baked goods while fostering a positive, creative, educational, and friendly environment for its employees and the community. Owner: April Anderson

Legacy House 614

Legacy House 614 is a unique and stylish event space in Columbus, Ohio. The house can be rented for a variety of events, including photoshoots, girl’s nights in, birthday parties, bridal showers, wine nights, community meetings, and pop-up shops. Owner: Keira Chatman

Ardor Hair Co.

Ardor Hair Co. is a hair extension company that sells 100% human hair extensions. They offer a variety of textures, including straight, wavy, and curly.  Owner: Erin Butler

of Art & Fact design studio

of Art & Fact design studio is a boutique interior design studio located in Baltimore, MD focused on mult-family, hospitality, and residential spaces. Owner: Shekesia Joyner

Main Photo Credit: @riannenelwan

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3 mins read

SpelHouse (Spelman & Morehouse) Alumni Owned Businesses (2023)

In this second installment of our series featuring businesses owned by HBCU alumni, we turn our attention to the remarkable entrepreneurs who hail from Spelman College and Morehouse College, collectively known as SpelHouse.

These institutions have long been at the forefront of empowering and cultivating brilliant minds. The SpelHouse alumni have taken their education and experiences to new heights, establishing businesses that embody their dedication to excellence, innovation, and community impact.

SpelHouse Alumni Owned Businesses

World Dry Clean Inc. is an Atlanta-based pick-up/delivery garment cleaning and specialty care shop that uses the most current eco-friendly washing machines and cleaning processes.

Owner: Vernell Kimbrough, Morehouse Class of 1983


Flora & Noor is an inclusive, halal-certified, vegan, cruelty-free, and sustainable skincare brand for those who appreciate clean skincare, those needing to treat the skin concerns of melanin-rich skin, and those with chronic skin conditions starting with eczema and hyperpigmentation.

Owner: Jordan Karin, Spelman Class of 2014


Oasis Soul Scent Co. is a candle and scented goods company dedicated to creating soothing products inspired by soulful music. Its offerings include an array of luxurious candles, body scrubs, body oils, sprays, and shower steamers, all carefully and lovingly crafted by hand using 100% natural, non-toxic, eco-friendly ingredients.

Owner: Lola Pyne, Spelman Class of 1998

Oasis Soul Scent Co.

Copper and Brass is an Afrocentric Stationery and E-Commerce Gift Boutique that showcases the Black culture with exquisite illustrations, offering premium stationery, paper goods, and gifts.

Owner: Ariel Young, Spelman Class of 2014

Copper and Brass

Base Ventures is a venture capital company that invests in seed-stage technology companies.

Co-founder, Kirby Harris, Morehouse Class of 1997

Base Ventures

HBCU Prep School is a multimedia education company that creates products for children that promote Black culture, financial literacy, and technology.

Owner: Claudia Walker, Spelman Class of 1999

Frederick Benjamin offers men’s grooming products, infused with natural oils to condition, moisturize, and style normal-to-dry scalp and hydrate and soften coarse, curly hair.

Owner: Michael James, Morehouse

by Tony O. Lawson

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4 mins read

Howard University Alumni Owned Businesses (2023)

Howard University, a historic and esteemed institution nestled in the heart of Washington, D.C., has long been a catalyst for empowering Black professionals and fostering their entrepreneurial spirit.

Over its illustrious history, the university has produced a plethora of exceptional graduates who have gone on to make significant contributions across various industries. Among these remarkable individuals are the enterprising alumni who have carved their own paths as successful business owners.

In this article, we proudly highlight the achievements of Howard University alumni who have harnessed their education, determination, and unique perspectives to establish thriving enterprises.

Howard University Alumni Owned Businesses

Plots & Pans

Plots & Plants is a gardening consultation company with locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego. Plots & Plants offers a wide range of services, from landscaping to maintenance. Owner: Dominique Charles (Class of 2006)

Samantha Rose Candle Company

The Samantha Rose Candle Company is an artisan candle company that creates all-natural soy candles and wax melts with phthalate-free premium fragrance oils. – Owner: Mackenzie Ofordire (Class of 2017)

Decor Ones LLC

Decor Ones LLC is a custom handmade decor company that specializes in rugs and wooden wall art inspired by music and Black culture. – Owner: Skylar Buchanan (Class of 2016)

Marsh + Mane

Marsh +Mane is a Philadelphia-based natural beauty supply store selling a curated selection of natural hair, skin, and beard products. – Owner: Jenea Robinson (Class of 2007)

Wellspring Manor & Spa

Wellspring Manor & Spa is a luxury bed and breakfast and spa located in Upper Marlboro, MD. The property is set on a seven-acre estate and features five suites, a spa, a fitness center, and a restaurant. – Owner: Lisa Brown-Alexander (Class of 1992)

The Capstone Crate

The Capstone Crate, a premium subscription box service, is expertly curated with posh, fun, and trending products created by Howard Alumni who own their own businesses. Each quarter you will receive a themed box of products BY HU Alumni FOR HU Alumni at your door.  – Owner: Zerlne Hughes-Spruill (Class of 2099)

Rose Trolley

Howard University Alumni Owned Businesses

Rose Trolley is a local, family-owned micro-transit startup company that provides free door-to-door, low-speed, electric vehicle transportation in Palm Beach, FL. Rose Trolley primarily serves communities that are highly populated with seniors, and the disenfranchised. – Owner: Terrence Rich (Class of 1998)

The Spice Suite

Howard University Alumni Owned Businesses

The Spice Suite is a specialty spice shop and dream incubator located in Washington, D.C. It offers a variety of services, including spice retail, workshops, and a monthly pop-up shop for Black entrepreneurs.  – Owner: Angel gregorio (Class of 2008)

The LimeLight Collection

The LimeLight Collection is a luxury line of sparkling jewel-encrusted clutch purses to accessorize and celebrate the multi-faceted woman. – Owner: Ebony Sanon (Class of 2001)


Howard University Alumni Owned Businesses

BOOMBOX is the DMV’s first and only music-driven fitness boxing studio. BOOMBOX has been discribed as a “Fitness Day Party,” where you literally punch and exercise to the beat of music. – Owner: Reggie Smith (Class of 2000)

Michael Lavelle Wines 

Howard University Alumni Owned Businesses

Michael Lavelle Wines produces bold, flavorful wines made with grapes from California and Oregon. The company’s flagship wine is the Iris Rosé, which is bright and fruity with notes of strawberry, raspberry, and peach. – Owner: Terrance Low (Class of 2012)

The CEE Suite

The Cee Suite is a NY based, M/WBE certified talent management consultancy that specializes in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). They partner with companies and nonprofits committed to building high-performing, inclusive, and equitable workplaces. – Owner: Cindy Joseph (Class of 2000)

by Tony O. Lawson

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3 mins read

Howard University Swim Team Triumphs as the Only All-Black Team in College Swimming

The Howard University Swim Team is making history as the only all-Black team in college swimming, breaking barriers and paving the way for future generations of Black swimmers.

Howard’s swim meets are now packed with students, university staff, and locals, complete with a performance by the Bisonette dance team and a lively atmosphere.

Coach Nic Askew, has been making waves in the competitive swimming world. In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, Coach Askew shared his insights on what it takes to build a successful swim team.

howard university swim team
Coach Nic Askew

He sees the unique energy at Howard’s swim meets as a testament to the program’s success. “Nobody in America can offer what we have in our pool,” he says. “Where else are you going to see this?”

As a former record-setting swimmer and all-conference tennis player at Howard, Askew brings a positive attitude to the team. He encourages his athletes to always look for the next challenge and make the most of every opportunity. Askew also has big plans for the swim program, including making Howard the touchstone for underserved communities across the country. “This is about our mission as a university and the message we want to send as an HBCU,” says Askew. “This isn’t a bunch of Black people in a pool; it’s young Black men and women succeeding in a sport that, for years, has shut them out of this experience.”

As the only remaining swim program at a historically Black college or university (HBCU), Howard is taking its responsibility seriously. Coach Askew and the staff make sure each swimmer understands the history of swimming among Black people and the school requires its undergraduate students to pass a basic swim test. Howard President Wayne A.I. Frederick explains, “It’s about going into the wider world, seeing inequities and closing them down.”

Unfortunately, the statistics are grim. USA Swimming estimates that only 1.5% of the country’s 295,078 competitive swimmers are Black, and just 2% in college. This means that every year, many college swim coaches never speak to a single Black swimmer. However, roughly one-third of America’s Black college swimmers are at Howard, making a big impact on the sport. “How many of these kids would have continued swimming in college if it weren’t for Howard?” Askew asks. “How many of them would have felt the same kind of support they have here?”

Howard’s swim program is making a difference and changing the conversation about Black people and swimming. As Miriam Lynch, a former Howard swimmer and the executive director of Diversity in Aquatics, says, “Our team is on the front line of change.”

Cover image credit: Simon Bruty/Sports Illustrated

2 mins read

$1.7 Million in Student Debt Erased for Black Women at Bennett College

In North Carolina, students at Bennett College with past-due tuition bills in collection will see $1.7 million of their debts erased.

A union of borrowers known as the Debt Collective purchased and paid off the student loans of nearly 500 Black women at Bennett, an all-women liberal arts HBCU in Greensboro.

Bennett College issued this statement about the cancellation:

“We understand that this has been an exceptionally challenging time and want to ease people’s burdens. The debts that were erased for these 462 individuals were debts owed directly to the school. These debts are different from federal and private student loans, which we do not have the ability to cancel because they are owned by the federal government.”

The group describes itself as a debtor’s union, with dues-paying members. It’s partially because of those funds that the collective was able to coordinate the buyout of the Bennett College debt.

The Debt Collective acquired the debt through a sister entity known as the Rolling Jubilee, a nonprofit that buys and discharges medical, carceral and other forms of consumer debt.

Braxton Brewington, a spokesman for the organization, said they chose Bennett College in North Carolina because Black women on average have higher student loan balances than any other group of borrowers. The debt cleared does not include federal student loans, only money owed directly to the school.

“These are the people that are really taking the brunt of the student debt crisis,” Brewington said.

Bennett College pulled $1.7 million in student debts the college had sent to collections and instead allowed the Rolling Jubilee to buy it. That price? $50,000, or about three cents on the dollar.

The Debt Collective’s model for eliminating student debts isn’t going to solve the debt crisis. Rather, Brewington said, the group’s hope is to highlight how cheaply and easily debt can be cleared.

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2 mins read

157 Year Old HBCU, Lincoln College Now Closed Following Covid-19 And Cyberattack Related Struggles

Lincoln College survived the economic crisis of 1887, a major campus fire in 1912, the Spanish flu of 1918, the Great Depression, World War II, the 2008 global financial crisis, and more.

Unfortunately, the Illinois-based institution has finally met its match and closed its doors for good today.

Despite record-breaking student enrollment in Fall 2019, the coronavirus pandemic dramatically impacted recruitment and fundraising efforts, sporting events, and all campus life activities.

lincoln college
Ke’Shawn Hess, a business student at Lincoln College | Credit: (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune)/Chicago Tribune via AP)

The economic burdens initiated by the pandemic required large investments in technology and campus safety measures, as well as a significant drop in enrollment with students choosing to postpone college or take a leave of absence, which impacted the institution’s financial position.

According to a statement on the school website, Lincoln College was also a victim of a cyberattack in December 2021 that thwarted admissions activities and hindered access to all institutional data, creating an unclear picture of Fall 2022 enrollment projections.

All systems required for recruitment, retention, and fundraising efforts were inoperable. Fortunately, no personal identifying information was exposed. Once fully restored in March 2022, the projections showed significant enrollment shortfalls, requiring a transformational donation or partnership to sustain Lincoln College beyond the current semester.

A Facebook group called Save Lincoln College tried unsuccessfully to help the school keep its doors open. The school, named after President Abraham Lincoln, held its final graduation last week.

“Everyone started leaving and we said our goodbyes, but we kind of realized we weren’t coming back,” a student said. “Other universities are offering them tuition and allowing them to start into the programs there but there’s never going to be a place like Lincoln.”


Tony O. Lawson

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1 min read

Graduating HBCU Students Debt Cleared By Anonymous Donor

DALLAS — Graduating students from Wiley College, an HBCU in East Texas, were told at their commencement ceremony that an anonymous donor had paid their balances.

Wiley College said in a news release that over 100 students were gathered for graduation Saturday when the school’s president, Herman J. Felton Jr., made the announcement, informing graduates they “do not owe the college a penny.”

“If you have a balance, you had a balance,” Felton Jr. said. “You no longer have a balance.”

The news release also stated, “The estimated total for balances owed to the College by the graduating class of 2022 is $300,000.00. The anonymous gift sets graduates on a continued path to success and allows Wiley College to strengthen its commitment to providing an affordable exceptional education. As Wiley College closes the academic semester and prepares for its Sesquicentennial Celebrations beginning in July, this is a great way to end the semester and start the celebration of 150 years of the College’s contributions to the world.”

The 2007 movie “The Great Debaters” starring Denzel Washington was inspired by a debate in 1935 in which Wiley prevailed over the University of Southern California’s nationally-known, powerhouse team at a time when the nation was heavily segregated.

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3 mins read

Howard University To Invest $785 Million in new Buildings and Renovations

Howard University will spend $785 million on new construction and building renovations, the largest real estate investment in the school’s history, officials announced today.

For the first time since 1984, Howard will be constructing new academic teaching centers on its campus. The majority of the funds ($670 million) will be used for the construction of new state-of-the-art multidisciplinary academic buildings, including the Health Sciences Complex, the Center for Arts and Communications, and the STEM Center.

The remainder of the investment will go toward major renovations to existing facilities on campus, including the Myrtilla Miner Building, which will house the School of Education and the Howard University Middle School for Mathematics and Science. These new construction projects are slated to begin this year and are expected to be completed by 2026.

“This is a watershed moment in the history of our institution,” said Wayne A. I. Frederick, president of Howard University. “Thanks to the caliber of students we have enrolled, the illustrious faculty we have assembled, the dedicated staff we have hired, the committed alumni base we have cultivated, and the tremendously enhanced financial posture we have worked so hard to achieve, the state of the University has never been stronger. Now is the time for us to take decisive action for the future of our institution. We are poised to leverage the strength we possess in the present moment to solidify Howard’s status as one of the preeminent institutions of higher education in the country. The steps we are taking today will be validated by the world-changing work of our students, faculty and alumni and by the essential service Howard will provide to communities in need.”

For financial and logistical reasons, the University cannot initiate all necessary and desired construction projects at the same time.

“Major construction initiatives on college and university campuses requires years of planning. We have to strategically prioritize which projects to undertake based on numerous factors, both internal and external. The fact that we are now positioned to move forward with three large-scale new construction efforts in addition to major renovations speaks volumes to the administration’s long-term vision and execution,” said Rashad Young, senior vice president and chief strategy officer. “These capital projects are going to dramatically accelerate our ability to achieve the goals we outlined in the strategic plan. With these new buildings, we will further enhance academic excellence, inspire new knowledge and serve the community.”

Read the full statement here.

Related: Howard University Alumni owned businesses


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2 mins read

Clark Atlanta University cancels student account balances for 2020-2021 school year

Clark Atlanta University announced this week that they will cancel student account balances from the spring 2020 semester through the summer 2021 semester.

University President Dr. George T. French said all student account balances from that time period will be brought to zero. The relief also applies to alumni.

“We understand these past two academic years have been emotionally and financially difficult on students and their families due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That is why we will continue to do all we can to support their efforts to complete their CAU education,” said President French. “We care about students and want to lighten their individual and family’s financial load so they can continue their journey in pursuing and attaining their educational and professional goals.”

French said the university’s ability to provide relief is due to the substantial amount of support it has gotten from the federal government under the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.

With the funds, CAU has been able to provide emergency financial aid dollars, refund some housing and meal charges, discount tuition and fees for the 2020-2021 school year, buy WIFI hot spots for students with no internet at home and buy 4,000 laptops for every financially enrolled student.

This initiative will not impact students’ future financial aid eligibility because it is a one-time outstanding balance cancelation.

Clark Atlanta University isn’t the first HBCU to help students financially because of the pandemic.
In May, Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio, announced it will cancel student debt for 2020 and 2021 graduates. The president of the university said at the time that the total amount of cleared debt would be more than $375,000.

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3 mins read

Curtis Lawrence III Graduated High School Early, Was Accepted to 14 Colleges and Chose an HBCU

In 2014, Curtis Lawrence III began taking dual enrollment courses at School Without Walls High School and George Washington University.

This spring, he will earn his Associates Degree and head to FAMU where he will pursue a double major in computer science and biology as well as a minor in Mandarin.

Curtis Lawrence III

Lawrence has also been awarded over $1.65 Million in Merit Scholarships. He was also accepted to Howard University, North Carolina A&T University, Morehouse College, Hampton University, Morgan State University, Claflin University, Hutson-Tillotson University, George Washington University, West Virginia Wesleyan, UC Berkeley, the University of Chicago, Yale and Harvard.

Lawrence’s love for education started at a young age. His parents, both educators, instilled the importance of school into he and his younger brother Corey early on, constantly taking them on trips to different museums, colleges, states and countries to expose them to what the world has to offer.

The competition is stiff among universities to recruit top young scholars. Dedra O’Neal, director of the FAMU Scholarship Program, has conducted Zoom calls with alumni scholars and prospective students since last fall.

The recruitment effort deploys alumni based in places such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Zambia, the Caribbean, France, and across the U.S. to discuss the FAMU scholar experience with top prospective students.

FAMU President Dr. Larry Robinson lauded Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. William E. Hudson Jr. for his role in successfully recruiting Lawrence. Hudson visited Lawrence’s Washington, D.C., high school, School Without Walls at George Washington University, last fall.

Lawrence said FAMU felt like home and explained one of the reasons he wants to be a Rattler: “Especially as a young student having been able to meet other students who also started college early at FAMU, and so I was able to really know that FAMU will provide me with that academic and professional support on top of schooling.”

Curtis Lawrence III
Curtis and his family | Credit: TN Democrat

Florida A&M University is competing with the best schools in the country to get top of the line students, including sixteen year old Curtis Lawrence III.

The young scholar now with his sights set on his undergraduate degree in which he doesn’t have to pay a dime.

Lawrence III could’ve continued his education at almost any university in the country but for his undergrad degree, his parents pushed an HBCU.

“We felt that at their start, right, at those fundamental times when you figure it out yourself. Who am I? What am I going to do in life?,” explained Curtis’ father Curtis Lawrence Jr. “To be in an environment that we felt would be nurturing I’m very supportive of their development. So that was very very important for us to create that level of foundation.”


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