Cartiear J. Madlock, Vegan Black Guy, left, and Danielle Smith Parker, founder, Detroit Maid, right, are Rebrand Black Accelerator pitch competition participants.
Photos provided by Cartiear J. Madlock and Danielle Smith Parker
Black businesses are booming in Detroit and coming out on the other side of the pandemic looking all right.
They’re doing more than all right in fact with the help of Rebrand Black Accelerator, especially after having a bumpy start last year. With COVID-19 devastating over 40 percent of Black-owned small businesses, Rebrand Black Accelerator (a unique partnership with Rebrand Cities and Thrivent) an opportunity arose to give $50,000 in grants to Black-owned Detroit small businesses.
The six-week program, featuring a pitch competition, opened in the winter with applications due in early March.
The Rebrand Black Detroit Accelerator program is now in the pitch competition stage of their program and is looking to select a winner among the 12 businesses that beat out over 200 applicants.
These applicants have learned intensive knowledge about branding, scaling, financial wellness and are now competing for the grand prize of $25,000; the first-place winner receives $10,000 and the second-place winner receives $5,000. The remaining nine participants who don’t place will receive $1,250 each.
The entrepreneurs and businesses are:
- Ashton Keys, Athlytic, Inc.
- Deidre Roberson, Eumelanin
- Margarita Barry, Mainstreet Mob
- Danielle Smith, Detroit Maid
- Alyssa Space, ForHerCosmetics
- Jonathan Merritt, Narrow Way Café
- Krista McClure, Detroit Parent Collective
- Dexter Sullivan, Forerunner Consulting
- Melinda Anderson, Studio M Detroit
- Chantele Jones, Estellas Vegan Dessert Boutique
- Ken Walker, K. Walker Collective
- Cartiear Madlock, Vegan Black Guy
Danielle Smith Parker, the founder of Detroit Maid, said that the experience is one to remember.
“Rebrand Black provided an invaluable networking experience. Connecting with other entrepreneurs who are in the thick of scaling their businesses while exchanging ideas for rapid growth has helped me to grow personally and professionally. I believe that each one of us, after having gone through Rebrand Black, are better positioned to tell authentic stories about our businesses and entrepreneurial journeys,” Smith Parker said.
Cartiear J. Madlock, Vegan Black Guy, agrees.
“My experience participating in the Rebrand Black accelerator was one of a kind. The natural chemistry and camaraderie amongst us all have been a breath of fresh air. It has given me the opportunity to not only expand my business acumen, but my confidence in business as well,” he said, adding that he hopes to win. “My plan with the grand prize of $25K is to purchase a shipping container, build it out as a juice bar and sell my products as enhancers. ‘The Bowling Pen’ will be a one-stop-shop for Vegan Black Guy supplements, smoothie bowls, grain bowls and all things wellness.”
Hajj Flemings, founder of Rebrand Cities, said that after the murder of George Floyd last year there was a moment where companies were trying to bring Black people and their companies more to the forefront. Flemings saw an important opportunity in this space to make a difference.
“We as an organization said, ‘What do we want our contribution to be?’ So, Rebrand Cities … said we’re going to create Rebrand Black. How do we use this moment when we have everybody’s attention?”
Flemings added that from the economic lens, society and everybody does better when Black people are uplifted.
“How do we start to create partnerships with brands that benefit from Black culture and drive and have an economic impact upon Black businesses?”
Flemings added that the businesses involved are learning how to succeed and helping Black businesses in the community is vital.
“[We] not only want to help Black businesses but want them to be in the city [of Detroit],” Flemings said. “For us, we want stuff impacted in the city.”
The competition winner will be announced on June 29. The pitch competition link is available here: https://fb.watch/5-zsWleRNY/.