Tag: black-owned business

HBCU Graduates Kevin Bradford, Kim Harris and Stacey Lee Bring Craft Beer Bar “Harlem Hops” to NY

photo of Harlem Hops owners via harlemhops.com

by Maya A. Jones via theundefeated.com

Three graduates of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are bringing a stylish take to a trendy craft beer bar in New York’s historic Harlem neighborhood. On June 9, owners Kevin Bradford, Kim Harris and Stacey Lee officially opened the doors of Harlem Hops to the public, making the establishment the first craft beer bar in Harlem to be 100 percent owned by African-Americans.

Harlem Hops sits nestled in the heart of Harlem at 2268 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd., a bustling street alive with independently owned businesses, convenient stores, curious neighbors and schoolchildren counting down the days until summer vacation begins. Walking into the bar gives the feel of everything Harlem embodies: a cozy, close-knit community where everyone is welcome.

“We want Harlem Hops to be Cheers for a lot of people in the neighborhood,” Harris said. “We want it to be the safe haven where you can just come and learn about something different.”

The vision of Harlem Hops began for Harris, a graduate of Clark Atlanta University, nearly five years ago. Born and raised in Harlem, Harris appreciated her neighborhood, but good beer was hard to find. Her quests to drink beer she enjoyed included traveling to Brooklyn to get it.

“I thought, there’s something missing here,” Harris said. “And that’s when it came to me that we should do a beer bar in Harlem. That’s was one of the reasons I thought about it.”

At the time, Harris had been in what she described as a distressed partnership with another business. But upon meeting with restaurant consultant Jason Wallace, Harris learned there was another entrepreneur who shared a similar vision for a craft beer bar. Bradford, a graduate of Hampton University, had the same problems as Harris when it came to finding good beer. Originally from Detroit, Bradford would find himself bringing beer back from his hometown to New York.

“I like good beer, and I couldn’t really find good beer above 125th. To tell you the truth, even above 110th,” Bradford said. “I had to travel to Brooklyn. I had to travel these far distances to get beer I liked. I think back in 2011 or 2012, New York was not really the beer center of the East Coast. Now, New York is pretty much on the map for craft beer. I live in Harlem and I wanted to open a bar in my neighborhood, but the zoning was residential. I could not have a commercial space in my property. That’s when Jason Wallace introduced myself and Kim and I was like, this is it.”

The two met near the end of 2016 and agreed that they could make the partnership work. Harris also ran her ideas past Lee, a fellow graduate of Clark Atlanta University and a trusted entrepreneur Harris had worked with in the past. Lee was more than happy to hop aboard and invest in the business.

“When Stacey came on board, she kind of made us whole in terms of all the bits and pieces,” Harris said. “I have business sense, Kevin is focused on the beer and Stacey brings in the creativity and helps me keep my thoughts together. We’re all married to each other. We love each other. It’s the perfect combination.”

Before long, ideas and concepts of what Harlem Hops could and should be began to fly. The three worked feverishly together to figure out everything from color schemes to beer to food menus. For decor, the group enlisted the help of designers. Matte black and copper would serve as the theme throughout the bar, and Harlem — whether it was in words, light-up messages or a marquee hanging from the ceiling — would be fully represented.

“Luckily, we all had the same style,” Harris said. “We wanted clean lines. We wanted something simple. Something that was a combination of typical beer, but Harlem. Harlem is high-end and upscale, and that’s what we wanted to do. We wanted to bring in some industrial aspects of a beer bar, but we wanted to make it sexy for everybody.”

Continue reading “HBCU Graduates Kevin Bradford, Kim Harris and Stacey Lee Bring Craft Beer Bar “Harlem Hops” to NY”

Meet Glenn Alan and Cynthia Gordy, the Team Celebrating and Identifying Black-Owned Businesses in Brooklyn

Glenn Alan and Cynthia Gordy, the duo behind Instagram’s “Black Owned Brooklyn” (Paul Stremple/BKLYNER)

by Paul Stremple via bklyner.com

Last week, our list of black-owned coffeeshops generated an enormous reader response. Even Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams got in on the action launching a Tour, pledging to visit all of the shops mentioned, shining a light on local businesses.

This is how we met Cynthia Gordy and Glenn Alan – two Brooklyn residents who had launched their own project to celebrate and document the black-owned businesses of Brooklyn. They’d been kicking the idea around since last summer, at least, but about eight weeks ago, Cynthia and Glenn launched Black Owned Brooklyn, an Instagram (and website) dedicated to curating and cataloging exemplary black-owned businesses throughout the borough.

Calling the project “love letters to Brooklyn’s people, places and products,” the two spend a few hours each Saturday seeking out new black-owned businesses to highlight, from handmade clothes to carry-out food, swanky bars to vegan cafés.

Gordy, 36, grew up in Philly but has spent the last three years living in Bed-Stuy, by way of Harlem and D.C. Alan grew up in the Bronx, then found himself living in Harlem once he was on his own. A few years back, all his uptown friends seemed to migrate to Brooklyn, so he made his way across the East River as well, and has spent the last couple years in Crown Heights.

Surprisingly, given its polish and professionalism, Black Owned Brooklyn is a side project for the very busy Gordy and Alan. Wanting to not only to catalog and celebrate the businesses they love, they were also looking for a creative outlet outside of their nine-to-five work. Alan, a project manager in the fashion industry, does the excellent photography for the posts, while Gordy, a former journalist who works in marketing, writes the copy and tells the stories for each place they feature.

Many of the posts so far have been focused around Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy, which makes sense—it’s where the creators live and it’s where they know. But as the following of their Instagram grows, they’re excited to branch out to new neighborhoods and types of businesses.

Moving between restaurants and retail, plant-shops and bars, the two are conscious to keep a mix of everyday and elevated, affordable and splashy, making sure they appeal to all types of Brooklynites. One of their first posts was about Jemz, a “quiet, inconspicuous” spot they knew and loved.

As Brooklyn communities, and especially communities of color, see a major influx of new residents, supporting local businesses is a key part of keeping some sense of community, of culture. “When I say residents, I don’t just mean black residents,” Gordy stresses. The guide is for everyone, especially those increasingly concerned about how and where they spend their money, who they support.

“I think that is what’s most important: conscious consumption,” says Alan. “Yes, it’s Black Owned Brooklyn, but it’s local—it’s about the neighborhood.”

No matter where they take things, it’s not likely they’ll run out of material anytime soon. Each business owner they interview has another recommendation to make, and readers are shouting out their favorite spots as well.

“People were hungry for this,” said Gordy, who is happy to learn more about the borough she and Alan call home. It’s made them more intentional, more aware of their neighborhoods, they said, as they go through their days and interact with local businesses.

“It’s not a well that ever runs dry,” said Gordy.

To read full article, go to: https://bklyner.com/black-owned-brooklyn/

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/

Black-Owned Company Acquires Essence From Time Inc.

– Deal reestablishes ESSENCE as a 100% Black-owned independent company –

– Black female-led ESSENCE executive team to have ownership stake in the brand –

via businesswire.com

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Essence Ventures LLC, an independent African-American owned company focused on merging content, community and commerce, today announced its acquisition of multi-platform media company Essence Communications Inc. from Time Inc. ESSENCE President Michelle Ebanks will continue at the helm of the company and will also join its board of directors. In addition, the all Black female executive team of ESSENCE, including Ebanks, will have an equity stake in the business.

“This acquisition of ESSENCE represents the beginning of an exciting transformation of our iconic brand as it evolves to serve the needs and interests of multigenerational Black women around the world in an even more elevated and comprehensive way across print, digital, e-commerce and experiential platforms,” said Ebanks. “In addition, it represents a critical recognition, centering and elevation of the Black women running the business from solely a leadership position to a co-ownership position.”

Through the Essence Ventures’ investment and resulting incremental growth opportunities, ESSENCE will focus on expanding its digital businesses via distribution partnerships, compelling original content and targeted client-first strategies. In addition, the brand will expand its international growth by planting its rich content ecosystem, including the flagship magazine, digital properties and successful live event franchises, in more global markets with women who have shared interests and aspirations.

Continue reading “Black-Owned Company Acquires Essence From Time Inc.”

Hakim’s Bookstore, Philadelphia’s Oldest Black Bookstore, Garners Support to Stay Open

Yvonne Blake, current owner of Hakim's Bookstore (photo via philly.com)
Yvonne Blake, Hakim’s daughter and current owner of Hakim’s Bookstore (photo via philly.com)

Hakim’s Bookstore, the oldest African-American bookstore, is getting some much-needed help from the Philadelphia community.

According to owner Yvonne Blake, people who heard the news that the store, which has been family-owned-and-operated since 1959, was struggling were quick to respond. Blake said that she has been overwhelmed by all the support she received, reports Philly.com.

Blake’s story, and her store, have been pasted all over social media by everyone from locals to even Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter of the Roots, with many using the hashtag #BlackBooksMatter. But Blake said that the most important thing she has seen people do is shop at the store. Their business helps keep the store afloat.

The Early Birds, an online community dedicated to helping support black-owned business, also held a cash mob, in which they encouraged their followers to go to Blake’s store and spend at least $20.

Other people have also volunteered to help Blake run the store, since Blake is also caring for her ailing mother, and people like Temple University student Ebonee Johnson have volunteered their time to keep the doors open.

The support has been overwhelming to Blake, and she hopes it will continue past the holiday season.

“It’s like a dream I don’t want to fully embrace because I don’t want it to end,” she told Philly.com. “It’s been an eye-opener because I thought we were dead and irrelevant. I really thought our time had passed, but I realized that I was living in the past and we have to do things differently if we want to stay around.”

To help out, if you’re in the area, Hakim’s Bookstore is located at 210 S. 52nd St. Visit or call: 215-474-9495.  Check them out on Facebook. They also have a GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/HakimsBookstore

article via thegrio.com

“Around the Way” App Locates Black-Owned Businesses

Imagine having access to the more than 1.9 million black-owned businesses in the United States at your fingertips? A company called Around The Way, which is based in New York, teamed up with Washington, D.C.-based mobile-app development firm Clearly Innovative to create a mobile app that will locate black-owned businesses in your area.

The companies say they hope the Around The Way app will support and empower black-owned businesses, especially around this all-important Christmas shopping season. The app, which is available only for the Apple iPhone right now,can be downloaded from the Apple app store.

While the app doesn’t have all of the black-owned businesses in the U.S. yet, it does contain a substantial number and there’s a spot on the app’s website where you can add your business. “The app can locate 17,000 black-owned businesses in all 50 states. Many of the businesses are located in New York City, and other major metropolitan areas,” Eric Hamilton, chief marketing officer and co-founder of Around The Way wrote in an e-mail to The NorthStar News & Analysis.

Continue reading ““Around the Way” App Locates Black-Owned Businesses”

Tattoo Artist Imani K. Brown Promotes Creativity and Craft in the Body Art World

Imani Brown Tuskegee Airmen Tattoo

One of the oldest and most prevalent cultural practices across the globe, tattooing has become increasingly popular in the African-American community. Yet while this group has demonstrated a growing affinity for receiving tattoos, the number of licensed black artists practicing the profession is much smaller by comparison. Add gender to the mix, and the number dwindles even further.

“I want to believe there are more of us [women], but so far, there are very, very few,” African-American tattoo artist Imani K. Brown, 32, told theGrio. ”I know about two in Detroit. That’s it.”  Being a black tattoo professional has placed the artist in a strange caste. “People think we’re on the darker side of life,” said Brown, referring to misconceptions about her line of work.  ”That we’re all rockstars and worship the devil.”

Yet, Brown is a trained artist who hails from Washington D.C.’s Pinz-N-Needlez Tattoo, one of the few black-owned and operated shops in the country. To add further distinction, she is documented as only the second licensed black female tattoo artist in America. She recently learned of the first accredited black female artist, 66-year-old Jacci Gresham of New Orleans, upon watching the new documentary Color Outside The Linesby black tattoo artist Miya Bailey and filmmaker Artemus JenkinsBrown is also featured in the film.

Continue reading “Tattoo Artist Imani K. Brown Promotes Creativity and Craft in the Body Art World”