August is National Black Business Month, an opportunity to recognize and support Black-owned businesses while focusing attention on the needs of Black entrepreneurs.
Here are 10 Charlotte business stories to help you kick off the month:
The nation’s 2.6 million Black-owned businesses generate $150 billion in annual revenue and employ 3.56 million people, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Survey of Business Owners. A new report released by the National Black MBA Association highlighted common challenges facing entrepreneurs and outlined solutions in four key areas: scalability, capacity building, mentorship and inclusive economic development.
As an entrepreneur, Desmond Wiggan relies heavily on his cellphone. Nowadays, who doesn’t? That’s why a dying battery is a no-go. Wiggan and his co-founder Aubrey Yeboah developed a prototype for BatteryXchange, a product and platform that allows cellphone users to rent portable batteries.
Charlotteans may know the story behind the Black-owned bed-and-breakfast that sits on almost two acres in the Sherwood Forest neighborhood near Cotswold. But, with the number of people moving to Charlotte each day, it’s worth a re-introduction.
Joseph Dixon saw a need in the Black dating scene — access. Busy singles needed a space specifically curated to meet other eligible Black singles. In 2013, he launched Charlotte-based RealBlackLove Inc., an online dating site for African American singles. The accompanying RBL dating app currently has close to 200,000 users.
After 28 years in corporate America, Angela Strother walked away from the “rat race” in 2016 to focus on self-care. Thinking about her next chapter, the former engineer knew she wanted something unlike the world she left. It happened a little over a year later when she opened a franchise location of Jon’Ric International Massage & Wellness Center.
Three Black-owned franchises that have found success in their niche markets are Smallcakes Cupcakery in Huntersville, Popbar in NoDa and Famous Toastery in Uptown. These establishments are garnering attention and satisfying stomachs every day. Check them out.
Cathay Dawkins is the founder of Black Business Owners of Charlotte, a community of local entrepreneurs and supporters using social capital to drive economic empowerment. You’ve probably heard of the group’s most notable events, Black Food Truck Friday and Charlotte Black Restaurant Week.
When Kimpton Tryon Park unveiled its ‘Stay Human Project,’ the goal was to transform Room 801 into a unique activation that paid homage to the Queen City. Along with the “royal treatment” amenities, room guests are gifted custom-made crown lapel pins created by Rook and King founder, Jeremiah Allen. The Johnson C. Smith University alum opened up about Rook and King, style and advice to entrepreneurs.
Ariene Bethea’s popular interior design business, Dress My Room, now has a brick-and-mortar location in Charlotte’s Oakhurst neighborhood. She previously had shops in the NoDa and Elizabeth neighborhoods, but the new location for her vintage furniture shop, Dressing Rooms Interiors Studio, is ideal. The chiropractic business next door is owned by her husband, Daren.
Charlotte was home to North Carolina’s first African American public library, the Brevard Street Library. What began with the establishment of the Brevard Street Library, continues with new offerings like Shelves Bookstore, MasterMind Podcast and Thee Lit House — each designed for today’s more diverse, mobile audience.
What are some of your favorite Charlotte-based Black-owned businesses?