Meet the Founders of BLK + Bold, the Black-Owned Brand That’s Serving Coffee With a Side of Social Justice

Meet the Founders of BLK + Bold, the Black-Owned Brand That’s Serving Coffee With a Side of Social Justice

May 6, 2021 0

BLK + Bold was always meant to be more than just another coffee brand. Childhood friends Pernell Cezar and Rod Johnson set an intention when they founded their company. The first Black-owned nationally distributed coffee brand would be known for its commitment to social justice, as well as its quality coffee. 

“We are ultimately driven by how we can exist as a resource…It wasn’t that the world needed another coffee company. It was that the world needs more businesses that care about their community,” said Johnson in a recent interview with Daily Coffee News. 

In 2019, Cezar and Johnson, who grew up in the same neighborhood in Gary, Indiana, left their jobs in merchandising and fundraising, respectively, to pursue BLK + Bold full-time. It was time for more representation of Black businesses within the coffee industry, and Cezar and Johnson rose to the challenge. 

BLK + Bold’s social mission is at the forefront of the company. “Millennial consumers are looking to invest in companies that resonate with them on a more personal level,” Johnson told Yahoo! News. “We were very intentional about including that social impact model in what we do.”

The Black-owned business gives back 5% of its profit to initiatives that support programming for students, enhanced workplace development, and housing for displaced youth. In a time when more and more consumers are concerned about brands’ social justice initiatives, BLK + BOLD is already ahead of the curve. 

The company has been making waves and gaining more attention after being picked up for national distribution by big-name brands Target and Amazon. Thanks to the increase in sales and awareness, the company has expanded from just two employees to 12 and now roast in a 10,000 square-foot roastery in Des Moines, Iowa. 

As a Black-owned business in a predominately White industry, Cezar and Johnson are fully aware of the doors their company can open for other Black business owners. With both a lack of Black coffee consumers and a lack of Black people on the other side of the counter, there’s a lot of room for growth in the coffee industry. 

“Coffee is not an economic pillar for black communities as it is in white communities, and it is often the sign of a changing community…My recommendation always comes down to your hiring practices. The biggest thing we can do is employment,” said Johnson. 

Besides employing young people in their community, Cezar and Johnson prioritize reaching out to Black consumers to increase the representation of Black consumers and expand their knowledge of specialty coffee. Now that people can find their coffee in grocery stores, Cezar and Johnson believe there’s a better chance to reach people who aren’t familiar with high-quality coffee. 

There’s a lot strategy business owners can undoubtedly learn from BLK + Bold’s founders. But the most notable thing about this company and what sets Cezar and Johnson apart from other business owners is at the heart of the business: their commitment to social justice and bettering their community. 

You can visit BLK + BOLD here – https://blkandbold.com/

BMI Staff
BMI Staff