Category: Business/Finance

business and finance

A New Generation of African-American-Owned Bookstores; Numbers No Longer in Decline

Mahogany Books opens in Washington D.C. (photo via publishersweekly.com)

by Alex Green via publishersweekly.com

When Troy Johnson began tracking the number of black-owned bookstores in the U.S. in 1999, there were more than 325. By 2014, that number had dwindled to 54, a decline of 83%.

“They were closing left and right, and the major ones were struggling,” said Johnson, who runs the African American Literature Book Club, an online book database. Today, Johnson estimates, there are at least 108 black-owned independent stores, a number of which have opened in the past six months, marking a substantial reversal. “Last year was the first year I added more stores to the list than I took away,” he noted.

The surge in black-owned indie bookstores is notable at a time when both bookselling and publishing are wrestling with issues of workforce diversity.

Ramunda and Derrick Young, wife-and-husband owners of the newly opened MahoganyBooks, looked for a physical location for years, but a wave of gentrification in Washington, D.C., left them with few promising options. That changed in early 2017, when they found a location in the Anacostia Arts Center, in the historically African-American neighborhood of Anacostia in Southeast D.C. Ramunda, a former general books manager of the Howard University Bookstore, said opening a store was a logical step toward diversifying the couple’s business after having run a books website serving predominately African-American readers for a decade.

MahoganyBooks opened in February and is the first bookstore in Anacostia in 20 years. The 500-sq.-ft. store has an adjacent events space for large readings. With tablets for readers to locate books online while they browse, the store fulfills the couple’s vision of “a bookstore 2.0,” Derrick said.

“Bookstore 2.0” is shorthand for the Youngs’ effort to integrate the physical store and the long-standing digital operation, creating independent sources of revenue that stand alone but point to one another. In-store technology points to the website, and the website now points to the physical store’s events. “We thought, if there were another big crazy economic downturn, how would we prepare ourselves so that we would have multiple streams of income?” Derrick said.

Opening the bookstore is also a homecoming. Derrick’s grandmother lived in Anacostia when he was a child, and he frequented the neighborhood’s black-owned bookstores. He later worked at the black-owned Karibu booksellers with Ramunda. Speaking about himself and Ramunda, he paid tribute to those earlier stores: “We were both kind of nurtured in that way. We both made an effort to be mentored and to understand the experience that readers want when they come into a bookstore.”

When forensic anthropology professor Christina Benton opened Janco Books in Las Vegas in October 2017, readers asked if she would model her store after Native Son, a neighborhood African-American specialty bookstore that closed in 2008. Benton expanded the store’s African-American section, but she said her interest is in catering to as broad a community as possible. “It’s a general bookstore owned by an African-American person,” she said. With a selection of new and used books, Janco caters most of all to families that homeschool in the area. “They buy the most, because they need to have the resources,” Benton said.

In Brooklyn’s rapidly gentrifying Crown Heights neighborhood, a general bookstore is as far from what Afro-Latina owner Kalima Desuze and her Caribbean husband, Ryan Cameron, wanted to open when they launched the Afro-feminist Cafe Con Libros in late December. Desuze, a retired U.S. Army JAG corps member with master’s degrees in social work and public administration, grew up in Prospect Place and credits her trajectory in life to reading feminist African and African-American authors.

“A lot of the reason why I opened up the store is because feminism has not always been the province of women of color,” Desuze said. “Part of my challenge as a black woman, calling my bookstore a feminist bookstore, is that some black women do not identify with the word feminism. But if they took the time to explore they would discover that they are already living it.”

To read more, go to: https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/bookselling/article/76545-a-new-generation-of-african-american-owned-bookstores.html

Former Goldman Sachs Partner Edith Cooper Joins Board of Directors of Etsy

Edith Cooper (photo via business insider.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to etsy.com, Edith Cooper, the former Partner and Global Head of Human Capital for Goldman Sachs, has been appointed to Etsy, Inc.’s Board of Directors, effective April 5, 2018.  Etsy, Inc. (Nasdaq: ETSY), is known as an online leader in the global marketplace for unique and creative goods.

“With Edith joining the board, we gain significant talent-management expertise, based on years of experience at leading global financial institutions. We are also honored that a person who called Brooklyn her home for many years is now working hand-in-hand with us to make our tech company even more successful,” said Josh Silverman, Etsy, Inc. CEO. “We are looking forward to Edith bringing her wealth of knowledge to Etsy, providing guidance as we continue driving growth and empowering the 1.9 million creative entrepreneurs who rely on our marketplace.”

Throughout her career, Ms. Cooper has used her broad experience in finance and focus on human capital to unlock innovation and collaboration in the workplace. At Goldman Sachs, she pioneered the use of data, analytics, and technology to maximize investments in people and leverage talent across the enterprise. She spearheaded Goldman Sachs’ groundbreaking company-wide conversation series on diversity and inclusion, designed to tie business goals to equity and social issues in order to empower all of the talent of the firm.  Cooper was also responsible for the recruitment, development, promotion, and well-being of the firm’s 35,000 people around the world. She has held various leadership roles as well at Morgan Stanley and Bankers Trust.  Cooper also is a member of the Board of Directors of Slack, the Museum of Modern Art and Mt. Sinai Hospital.

“Etsy’s mission to ‘Keep Commerce Human’ and its culture is revolutionary in the tech space. I have long admired Etsy’s drive to create value by investing in its people and fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace,” said Edith.  “I am honored to join the Board as Etsy continues to connect creative entrepreneurs with buyers around the world.”

With Edith’s appointment, Etsy’s Board has expanded, while retaining gender parity. She is also joining the Compensation Committee of the Board. Etsy was founded in 2005 and is headquartered in Brooklyn, New York.

‘Black Panther’ Becomes Top-Grossing Superhero Film of All Time in U.S. with $630.9 Million in Domestic Box Office

The Disney and Marvel tentpole wrests the crown from 'The Avengers.'
‘Black Panther’ (Courtesy of Marvel Studios)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Director/writer Ryan Coogler‘s Black Panther, as of this weekend, has officially become the highest-grossing superhero film in North America, taking the title from another Disney/Marvel tentpole, The Avengers.

According to hollywoodreporter.com, the Chadwick Boseman/Lupita Nyong’o/Michael B. Jordan starrer achieved the milestone on Saturday after passingThe Avengers, $623.4 million gross from 2012. Black Panther is also only one of seven films to ever earn $600 million or more domestically, finishing Sunday with $630.9 million, putting it at No. 5 on the all-time list.Black Panther finished the weekend with $1.237 billion in ticket sales internationally, surpassing Iron Man 3 ($1.214 billion) to rank as the No. 3 superhero title of all time at the worldwide box office, just behind Avengers ($1.518 billion) and Avengers: Age of Ultron ($1.405 billion).

Black Panther finished in second-place overall in its sixth weekend with $17 million in sales, behind the newly-released Pacific Rim: Uprising, which earned approximately $28 million in its debut weekend.

Producer/Director Deon Taylor Launches Dark Circus Banner, Sets Snoop Dogg-Produced Series “The Thrill”

Deon Taylor (Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic/Getty Images)

by Mia Galuppo via hollywoodreporter.com

Producer/director Deon Taylor and his Hidden Empire Film Group have launched a new shingle, Dark Circus, that will produce film and television content aimed towards urban audiences, with a focus on the comedy and horror genres.

The first project set up under the banner is a Snoop Dogg-produced horror anthology series, The Thrill. It centers on a mysterious hotel, The Last Stop Inn, situated on a lonely stretch of foreboding highway, where the unlucky guests who check in each week struggle to understand the supernatural events that unfold during their stay.

The first feature release under the new label will be The House Next Door, the previously announced sequel to Meet the Blacks. Taylor directed the comedy that stars Mike Epps and Katt Williams.

“We have the resources and market expertise to deliver branded content with a unique voice — one that speaks to an urban audience,” said Taylor. “I won’t say that this market is underserved, as there are a great deal of films still finding their way to the marketplace. However, our intention is to raise the bar with Dark Circus and create an enduring brand. Partnering with Snoop on this first anthology series will have us coming out of the gates strong, and we couldn’t be more excited.”

Taylor — who directed and produced the upcoming Paula Patton-starrer Traffik and is attached to direct the police drama .38 — runs Hidden Empire with partners Roxanne Avent and Robert F. Smith.

Source: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/deon-taylor-lauches-dark-circus-banner-sets-snoop-dogg-produced-anthology-series-1094982

Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios Acquires Weather Channel

Byron Allen (photo via thereelnetwork.com)

by Cynthia Littleton via Variety.com

Adding another pillar to his growing TV and film portfolio, Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios has reached a deal to acquire cable’s Weather Channel in a transaction valued at about $300 million.

Entertainment Studios is buying the Weather Group, parent company of the cabler and the Local Now streaming service, from Comcast and private equity giants Blackstone and Bain. That group purchased Weather Channel for $3.5 billion in July 2008. The digital operations of Weather Channel were acquired in 2015 by IBM in a deal pegged at around $2 billion.

“The Weather Channel is one of the most trusted and extremely important cable networks, with information vitally important to the safety and protection of our lives,” said Allen, who is chairman-CEO of Entertainment Studios. “We welcome the Weather Channel, which has been seen in American households for nearly four decades, to our cable television networks division. The acquisition of the Weather Channel is strategic, as we begin our process of investing billions of dollars over the next five years to acquire some of the best media assets around the world.”

The Weather Channel, which made its on-air bow in 1982, is one of cable’s most well-known brands but its linear prospects have been challenged by the ubiquitous availability of weather-related data via digital sources. Nonetheless it’s a big step for Allen’s company, which already operates eight linear TV channels including Pets.TV, Comedy.TV and Cars.TV that target niche audiences. Weather Channel will be the most widely distributed outlet in Allen’s portfolio.

“We are excited to join Entertainment Studios, and we are especially proud to be part of one of the largest emerging global media companies,” said Dave Shull, CEO of Weather Channel. “Byron Allen’s purchase of our innovative and forward-thinking organization will increase the value we bring to our viewers, distributors, and advertisers.”

Allen’s Entertainment Studios has also been moving aggressively in the independent film arena in recent years with the launch of Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures. Last year the fledgling distributor saw respectable box office returns last year from the thriller “47 Meters Down” and the Western “Hostiles.” Allen Group is the sole owner of Entertainment Studios.

Source: http://variety.com/2018/tv/news/byron-allen-weather-channel-acquire-entertainment-studios-1202733511/

Box Office: ‘Black Panther’ Earns $27 Million, Spends 5th Straight Weekend at Number One

Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER L to R: Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) and W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya) with some of his border tribesman. Ph: Film Frame ©Marvel Studios 2018

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to Variety.com, “Black Panther” has maintained its momentum at the domestic box office, winning its fifth consecutive weekend with $27 million earned at 3,834 locations. “Black Panther” has become only the seventh title to pass the $600 million milestone at the North American box office, and is the second-fastest film to do so. It’s the fourth-highest fifth weekend of all time, and the first time a film has held the top spot for five weekends in a row since 2009’s “Avatar.”

“Tomb Raider” finished second in its opening weekend in line with expectations with $23.5 million from 3,854 sites. Lionsgate-Roadside Attractions’ faith-based drama “I Can Only Imagine” outperformed forecasts with $17.1 million at 1,629 venues.

Disney’s second weekend of time-travel adventure “A Wrinkle in Time” followed in fourth place with $16.6 million at 3,980 locations, lifitng its 10-day total to $61.1 million. Fox’s launch of gay teen comedy-drama “Love, Simon” took fifth with $11.5 million at 2,402 venues.

“‘Black Panther’ continues to astonish as it shows incredible strength fully five weeks into its amazing run as it takes on another batch of notable newcomers and comes out on top,” said Paul Degarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore.

Black Construction Companies Working on $350 Million Obama Presidential Center

Michelle Obama Barack Obama theGrio.com
(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

via thegrio.com

Now that Barack Obama is out of the White House, he’s making a statement on support for Black businesses with a huge deal for the Obama Presidential Center.

The OPC is set to cost about $350 million, and an alliance of minority firms is set to get a large chunk of that. Powers & Sons Construction, UJAMAA Construction, Brown & Momen, and Safeway Construction, all part of the Presidential Partners consortium, have all come together as part of the Lakeside Alliance working on the presidential center, according to Black Enterprise.

The minority companies will be getting a 51% stake, while Turner Company, which is one of the nation’s largest construction companies, will have a 49% stake. It’s a historic move, not just because of the companies involved but because most minority firms will be hired on as subcontractors and not given majority stakes like this.

“The Obama Foundation believes in creating opportunities for diverse and local businesses and building pathways to meaningful jobs for minorities and other underrepresented populations,” said David Simas, CEO of the Obama Foundation.

“The development of the Obama Presidential Center gives us an opportunity to make a major, unprecedented impact on the South Side in terms of hiring talented, local businesses and individuals. We look forward to working with Lakeside Alliance to achieve our goals, set new benchmarks and make the Obama Presidential Center a landmark that our neighbors can be proud of.”

It’s a big win not just for the companies but the communities, because the alliance of minority companies has promised that they will be employing minority workers and people who live in the surrounding area for the massive project. That way, the companies will be giving back to the community and the presidential center will be a boon to Chicago’s South and West sides.

Ground will be broken for the project later on this year.

Ava DuVernay, Netflix, Issa Rae, Dan Lin and Others Partner With City Of L.A. on Inclusion Initiative, the Evolve Entertainment Fund

by Dominic Patten via deadline.com

“As we radically reimagine Hollywood, it is critically important that young people are included in our vision,” Ava DuVernay said today at the unveiling of the Evolve Entertainment Fund in Los Angeles.

“Real change happens when we take tangible action, and that means giving young women and people of color opportunities in the industry early on so they have the chance to shape its future,” the A Wrinkle on Time director and ARRAY founder added of the new partnership between the City of L.A, studios, networks and nonprofits that seeks to provide placement in the industry for those traditionally left on the outside.

“What is one thing that people can do to instigate inclusion on film set? Hire a woman,” Oscar nominee DuVernay also made a point of noting. “Films directed by women have 76% percent more inclusion across people of color and women.”

Teaming-up with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Issa Rae Productions, Dan Lin’s Rideback, ARRAY, WME, Netflix, HBO, Film Independent, CAA, UTA, Anonymous Content, Lionsgate, Charles D King’s MACRO, Oprah Winfrey Network, the Sundance Institute, Shondaland, Ryan Murphy, Innovative Artists and Warner Bros, among others, the EEF intends to raise over $5 million to fund programs up to and beyond 2020.

With emphasis on creating TV, film and digital career opportunities for people of color, women and low-income residents of the City of Angles and securing mini-grants and placement for eligible filmmakers, the newly announced EEF has already established 150 paid summer internships for students participating in the HIRE LA’s Youth program working with 9-1-1 EP Murphy’s production company, DreamWorks Animation and Kobe Bryant’s Granity Studios. The hope is that the trajectory of those internships will expand to 250 by the end of the year, and up to 500 placements by 2020. Continue reading “Ava DuVernay, Netflix, Issa Rae, Dan Lin and Others Partner With City Of L.A. on Inclusion Initiative, the Evolve Entertainment Fund”

Target Adds Melissa Butler’s Black-owned and Vegan Beauty Brand, The Lip Bar, to its Shelves

Target to carry Melissa Butler's The Lip Bar in stores. (Melissa Butler) thegrio.com
Target to carry Melissa Butler’s The Lip Bar in stores. (Melissa Butler)

by Nekea Valentine via thegrio.com

According to Allure, Target has partnered with the Black-owned beauty brand, The Lip Bar, and will launch their line of vegan and cruelty-free products this spring. Melissa Butler, a former Wall Street financial analyst, is the founder of the brand after spending years frustrated and dissatisfied with the lack of representation for black women in the beauty industry.

Butler states, “Everyone deserves to have representation. Without it, we are left seeking validation.”

Butler also states in the initial stages of her building her brand, The Lip Bar, she pitched it to Shark Tank. The sharks decided to pass on what is now a business she says is worth nearly half a million dollars.

(image via allure.com)

The 30-year old Detroit native’s brand has skyrocketed since starting The Lip Bar in 2012 out of her own kitchen in Brooklyn, NY. Fast forward to 2018 and the entire line is already available in 44 Target stores and will be available in 100 more stores this May.

Target launched the line with two exclusive shades: Unimpressed, a liquid matte lip color, and Baddie, a lip gloss. Lipstick lovers can also choose from The Lip Bar’s Cream Lipstick ($12), which is full of moisturizing ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, avocado oil and vitamin E or the Liquid Matte Collection ($13) with almond oil to keep your pucker moist.

Finally, there’s the line of lip glosses ($14) which are organic, nourishing and provide a slight glaze for a touch of glamour.

Butler pledges: “Everything we do at The Lip Bar is about empowering women to be their best selves. We give representation to the underserved so that every girl has the privilege of being socially accepted as beautiful. And in in my free time, I mentor young women in the inner city of Detroit (my hometown) to show them that they are better than their surroundings and to prove that they don’t have to be a product of their environment.”

Source: https://thegrio.com/2018/02/15/target-sell-black-owned-beauty-brand-lip-bar/

Musician/Filmmaker Boots Riley Sells “Sorry to Bother You” at Sundance Film Festival to Annapurna Pictures

by  via Variety.com

Annapurna Pictures has purchased the film “Sorry to Bother You” following its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. The workplace satire sold in a competitive seven-figure deal, with the studio picking up worldwide rights.

“Sorry to Bother You” centers on an Oakland-based telemarketer named Cassius Green who discovers a magical key to professional success. It takes on such topics as racism and corporate greed — some buyers felt its satire was deft, while others griped that it juggled too many ideas.

Boots Riley via supportagentsfilm.com

The film stars Lakeith Stansfield (“Atlanta”, “Get Out”), Tessa Thompson (“Creed”), Armie Hammer (“Call Me by Your Name”), David Cross (“Arrested Development”), and Terry Crews (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”). It was written and directed by Boots Riley, who is better known as a musician. He provides vocals for The Coup and Street Sweeper Social Club.

Annapurna, which specializes in auteur-driven fare such as “The Master” and “Detroit,” was pretty blunt about its love for the picture. “We f—ing love this movie,” the studio said in a statement.

The film was produced by Nina Yang Bongiovi, Forest Whitaker, Charles D. King, George Rush, Jonathan Duffy, and Kelly Williams. It was co-financed by MNM Creative, MACRO, and Cinereach.

To read full article, go to: http://variety.com/2018/film/news/sundance-sorry-to-bother-you-annapurna-1202677125/