Bringing Diversity in Comic Books

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Keith Jett-Artist

Former GA Tech football player creates books to promote diversity in cartoons, comic books, and film. Keith Jett (FKA Gary Keith Brown II) has launched a new comic book series entitled, Legends of War.

Since leaving GA Tech, Jett has put all his energy into bringing diversity to the comic book action hero genre as a creator, artist, and writer. He speaks heavily on the need for diversity in cartoons, comic books, and film. He states, “In order to make an impact, there must first be a difference in the way we think about and represent our culture. We don’t need to follow what most people consider mainstream. We must create our own brands within society.”

Jett has put his talents to work as both a creator of comic books and Rapper Look-Alike Events.

Legends of War: Issue#1 Battlefield is a story about two black men, Jerrald and Relic, who co-exist between the Human realm and the Legend realm. They must sacrifice their friendship and fight to the death to determine who will Die Human or Die a Legend. The Human Realm is where those who used to be Legends go after they’ve died in combat. They no longer have the power to activate their legend state.

The Legend Realm is where legends fight each other to become a True Legend, which is granted unlimited power and remains in the legend state, never to be human again. True Legends can exist in both the Human Realm and the Legend Realm. They walk the universe as one of the most powerful beings.

The Rapper Look-a-Like Events are based on rappers that inspired Keith Jett’s art in the Gangsta Turtles series. Picture a world of Turtles—but stuck to the G-Code. Follow the intense and action-packed adventures of Terrance, Krill, and KJ as they use their G-Code to tote guns, dodge bullets, and fight to bring back peace to their community from the machines who hunt them: the cyber beast unit. Tupac Shakur inspired the look and personality of the character Two-Shots, who represents loyalty. Biggie Smalls inspired the character Bullet Fretts’ demeanor and body type. Boosie inspired the swag and clothing of the main character, Terrence.

“There aren’t enough Black or African-American action heroes on the market that are readily available for ethnic communities online, in comic book stores, or on film,” Jett says.

About Keith Jett
Keith Jett is the creator, artist and owner of Keith Jett Productions. He is known for creating worlds beyond others’ imaginations. His main focus is to bring awareness to brand-new Black Action Heroes. Keith Jett wants his productions and characters to make a powerful impact on the world. Keith creates art for comic books, album covers, businesses, and other artistic avenues.

The I PROMISE Village: How Lebron James is Helping His Hometown

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LeBron James wearing #23 jersey standing on basketball court smiling

Despite the current circumstances of the world and the approaching NBA season, professional basketball star Lebron James has found another way to give back to his hometown of Akron.

Citing his hometown as an essential part of his success, James founded “The Lebron James Family Foundation” to give back some of his success to his Ohio hometown. For years, the organization has utilized tools in education to help the citizens of Akron, but as of late, has taken on one of its most ambitious projects yet: to help the disadvantaged families of the city.

On July 22, The Lebron James Foundation opened up the I PROMISE village, a transitional building set to provide families of an immediate home in the case of abuse, homelessness or other emergencies. The building will finally be opening after six months of refurbishing in partnership with 23 other companies.

Besides providing a space where families can feel safety of having a roof over their heads, the village will also be providing meals, community engagement, and life skill classes to help their tenants get back on their feet.

“This is about more than just getting kids to school,” the foundation executive director, Michele Campbell announced. “This is about keeping them alive. We’re seeing families struggling every day with very real and oftentimes unexpected issues that turn their worlds upside down. This will allow the family time and opportunities to grow while not worrying if they’ll have a roof over their heads.”

Using Your Voice as a Powerful Business Tool

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Angelica Nwandu headshot

By Angelica Nwandu

The power of voice is an often-underestimated tool within the business world. Countless entrepreneurs have harnessed the power of their voices to create strong online brands that people trust.

By putting your voice out there, you can establish yourself as a leader in the industry—translating into endless business opportunities. If you’re an up-and-coming entrepreneur, the number one way to grow your brand is by sharing your expertise across all mediums. You’ll see the ROI in no time!

Here’s how you can use your voice as a powerful business tool through content and other means:

Find Your Niche

The first step in using your voice as a business tool is to establish your expertise. You need to establish yourself as an expert within your niche. That is the only way your audience will take your words as an authoritative resource.           

Dive into your skillset and find the area that you believe is your strongest field. What can you offer that no one else in your industry can?

Once you’ve found the place where you can set yourself apart from the rest, target in on that. Create useful and educational content surrounding your expertise. Write about things no one else besides you can write about, and find the questions no one has answered yet. By doing this, you will start to gain traction and attract a significant audience.

Have a Strong Social Presence

Social media is important for networking and discovering potential customers. Post consistently to LinkedIn and connect with prospects. Your connections will then see your expertise and hopefully consider you as a thought leader.

Always engage with your followers. Respond to comments and encourage conversation on your social profiles. Make sure every one of your social profiles is complete with a profile picture, bio, and more so that you come off as authentic and professional.

In addition to all this, feel free to join social groups on Facebook and more that you believe could bring a larger audience to your brand. Share your own personal articles and additional educational resources that would be of value to these groups.

Be Authentic

One crucial part of transforming your voice into a business tool is authenticity. In order to utilize your voice as a tool for business, you first need to establish trust. And trust only comes with authenticity.

When posting content or networking with potential clients, be sure to be authentic. If people trust you and your content, they’ll be more likely to do business with you. Post content in your personal tone and voice. Be a useful and reliable educational resource for your target audience.

Also, pass on the self-promotional content. Post and share content that your audience can truly benefit from as opposed to self-promotional advertisements. 

Post Consistently

If you want to be taken seriously in your industry, you must post consistently. Posting consistently will establish you and your brand as a trusted voice in your niche. Post educational, compelling, and unique content that will help you reach your audience. Create a posting schedule that keeps you on track to share educational content. Overall, hold yourself accountable to posting regularly.

Also, make sure your tone and quality are both consistent. You want your content to be top-notch every time you share content.

Harness the Power of Video

Video is one of the most essential mediums today. It can convey vital information more effectively while also offering more opportunities for creativity. It will communicate your voice better and stronger.

Instead of writing post after post, consider a quick one or two-minute video. Speak about topical subjects, best practices, and more. This can make you stand out in your industry and garner trust from your audience.

Seek out Speaking Opportunities

One of the best ways to use your voice as a business tool offline is to seek out speaking opportunities. If your city is hosting a conference or convention within your industry, see if there’s any way you can contribute. Volunteer for a panel and showcase your expertise. Attendees will take note of your insight, and you may be able to turn them into customers.

Overall, your voice can be a powerful business tool to attract a broad audience. Choose your words wisely and utilize your expertise to find your target market. Authenticity, trust, and consistency can go a long way, so be sure always to put your best foot forward.

Your voice is the most powerful business tool you have. Start using it today!

Angelica Nwandu is the founder of The Shade Room, a site that covers celebrity news and celebrates black culture. She was named as one of Forbes “30 under 30” in 2016 and has created a media company that inspired Refinery 29 to dub Nwandu “the Oprah of our generation.”

Former Attorney Launches First Black-Owned Stock Exchange in 230 Year US Stock Exchange History

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black businessman working on laptop wearing a suit smiling

When it comes to investing, estate planning, and overall generational wealth building, Black people are often at a severe disadvantage due to a shortage of knowledge, education, and access.

And while in recent years, there has been an increase in resources and opportunities for Black people to plan for their futures, grow their money, and set their children up for financial success, they are still lightyears behind compared to their white counterparts. Former attorney, Joe Cecala, recognized this and, through a partnership with Cadiz Capital Holding LLC, a minority-owned private equity firm, founded The Dream Exchange, the first Black-owned stock exchange in the 230 years of US stock exchanges.

Dream Exchange’s mission is to “focus on small business capital formation and diversity using the power of the American investing public.” The new stock exchange promises to “allow investors to empower innovators and emerging businesses in a way that has never been done before.”

In a statement, Cecala shared, “The Dream Exchange is a real solution to the long-term systemic issues plaguing our country by providing a marketplace where money flows to any organizations that help us to survive better as a society.” He hopes to provide access to the capital markets system by making it available to more individuals and businesses. Cecala also says that the Dream Exchange will list new companies with breakthrough ideas at an early stage so that investors will see the most significant potential opportunity.

William H. Ellison (Bill), Chairman of Cadiz Capital Holding LLC, said, “For years my team and I have looked for a way to help mid-size businesses participate more extensively in the US economy, we feel the Dream Exchange is that way.”

When it comes to investing, estate planning, and overall generational wealth building, Black people are often at a severe disadvantage due to a shortage of knowledge, education, and access. And while in recent years, there has been an increase in resources and opportunities for Black people to plan for their futures, grow their money, and set their children up for financial success, they are still lightyears behind compared to their white counterparts. Former attorney, Joe Cecala, recognized this and, through a partnership with Cadiz Capital Holding LLC, a minority-owned private equity firm, founded The Dream Exchange, the first Black-owned stock exchange in the 230 years of US stock exchanges.

Dream Exchange’s mission is to “focus on small business capital formation and diversity using the power of the American investing public.” The new stock exchange promises to “allow investors to empower innovators and emerging businesses in a way that has never been done before.”

In a statement, Cecala shared, “The Dream Exchange is a real solution to the long-term systemic issues plaguing our country by providing a marketplace where money flows to any organizations that help us to survive better as a society.” He hopes to provide access to the capital markets system by making it available to more individuals and businesses. Cecala also says that the Dream Exchange will list new companies with breakthrough ideas at an early stage so that investors will see the most significant potential opportunity.

William H. Ellison (Bill), Chairman of Cadiz Capital Holding LLC, said, “For years my team and I have looked for a way to help mid-size businesses participate more extensively in the US economy, we feel the Dream Exchange is that way.”

In addition, due to the current global pandemic, the Dream Exchange has been educating members of Congress on the need for venture securities, how to protect capital markets, and the creation of opportunities in the post-COVID environment.

Continue on to the Chicago Defender to read the complete article.

Why Diversity Matters: The Benefits of Recognizing Overlooked and Untapped Talent

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fist pump between a white and black hand

By Santura Pegram

Growing up, most of us were taught that brilliant innovators of everything from electricity to the lightbulb, automobiles, pharmaceuticals-medical devices, materials, alloys like steel-iron-aluminum-copper, and everything else under the sun were created by European (white) inventors.

However, while such figures certainly deserve recognition for their creations, and ongoing generations should be grateful to those individuals for their contributions, what was omitted from such history lessons was the fact that equally skillful black people and incredible thinkers of other diverse backgrounds also played equally pivotal roles. These latter groups of people helped to create some of the greatest inventions, took others to the next level or devised a new product or service altogether that are still relied upon today.

Disappointingly, most schools and institutions of higher learning have failed to teach material that revealed such hidden truths – both then and now. Thankfully, recent developments in several industries are enlightening increasing numbers of people about the historic and almost unknown contributions of black and brown people throughout the world.

Most affluent Americans and countless others have little clue that it was black people alone who kept the automobile brand, Cadillac, afloat in the U.S. In the 1930’s, as America was struggling to recover from The Great Depression and as racism continued to ruin opportunities for everyone who held onto to such nonproductive beliefs, a low-ranking German immigrant – Nicholas Dreystadt – who worked for General Motors at the time boldly entered a boardroom after overhearing perplexed white executives discuss consideration of abandoning the brand due to increasingly poor sales. The problem: GM was relying solely upon white Americans to buy the cars. Yet, from his menial position as a service division employee, Dreystadt quickly recognized that it was large numbers of black customers who owned Cadillacs who often were found waiting for their vehicles to be serviced at GM dealerships.

At the time, Cadillac had a strict practice against selling any of their luxury cars to black customers. Interestingly, through his own experiences of interacting with many such black customers, Dreystadt learned that black people routinely paid a white person (i.e., a front man) a fee to go into a dealership and purchase the Cadillac of choice for them. Thus, determined to make his point and show what could happen if GM abandoned their discriminatory policy, Dreystadt was successful at implementing a new diversity marketing approach, which increased sales of Cadillacs by 68%, and helped to make the brand profitable within 18 months. His same strategy was later adopted by Mercedes Benz to include black people and increased sales of their once-struggling brand too.

Still not convinced that diversity makes a huge difference in the world? Then consider the story of Nathan “Uncle Nearest” Green and how he revolutionized whiskey. Green, a former slave in Lynchburg, Tennessee was the first black master distiller in America who taught Jack Daniel how to make the liquid gold. For more than a century, Nathan “Nearest” Green’s name was purposely left out of history books and absent from most conversations which tied him to the Jack Daniel’s brand. It would have likely remained that way had it not been for the relentless curiosity of Fawn Weaver, a California businesswoman, who in 2017 spearheaded the launching of what is now known as the Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey brand in an industry that generates $3 billion dollars annually.

If those two examples are not enough proof that the creative (yet often unwisely ignored) potential of black and brown people continue to be a legitimate factor to consider throughout every sector of business, then consider other little-known facts that prove minorities are capable of being far more than the brawn behind an endeavor, they can also be the brains too.

Did any of the schools you ever attended teach you that Dr. Domingo Liotta – a South American native – was the person responsible for creating the first artificial heart that was successfully transplanted into a human being? Did they teach you that Dr. Alejandro Zaffaroni – who was born in Uruguay – not only invented a bandage that administers medicinal drugs through a patient’s skin, but he was also responsible for helping to develop several other widely used products for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, including the nicotine patch used to aid smokers in breaking their nasty habit? Were you ever informed that it was an enormously intelligent medical doctor – Julio Palmaz, who was born in Argentina – that invented the balloon-expandable stent frequently used to treat one of the most common health conditions (cardiovascular disease)?

Do your research on Dr. Thomas O. Mensah, the engineer and genius inventor who played a critical role in the development of fiber optics and nanotechnology. While you’re at it, take a few moments to delve into the impressive educational program known as ‘Make Music Count,’ created by Marcus Blackwell which aims to eliminate the fear of math and simultaneously teach children between the 3rd grade and 12th grade how to perform better mathematically while enjoying culturally relevant lessons through music.

Explore the insightful exploration of incredible thinkers like Elijah McCoy, Granville T. Woods, Patricia E. Bath, Frederick McKinley Jones, Jessica O. Matthews, Jasmine Crowe, Diishan Imira and countless others.

Then, imagine what could be accomplished if people of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds throughout America and around the world were to put our heads together and entertain the thought of what has yet to be discovered? Quite possibly, that could include creating a cure for most (if not all) chronic diseases and health ailments. Maybe finding the answer to eradicate poverty, homelessness, and world hunger. Perhaps devise better public policy solutions focused on bringing people together instead of fanning insignificant flames which have only kept us apart.

Whatever the case and despite our achievements as segmented human beings, it’s not difficult to debate that we have only scratched the surface of everything that can be accomplished – if we will commit our hearts and minds to doing it together.

Santura Pegram is a freelance writer and socially conscious business professional. A former protégé-aide to the “Political Matriarch of the State of Florida” – the Honorable M. Athalie Range – Santura often writes on topics ranging from socially relevant issues to international business to politics. He can be reached at: santura.pegram@yahoo.com

Who Said Woman Was Not Meant to Fly?

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Bronwyn Morgan pictured smiling sitting at a table

By Laurie Dowling, National Utilities Diversity Council

What do you get when a serial innovator merges her vocation and her avocation? You get Bronwyn Morgan, founder of Xeo Air, an outsourced AI-based drone services and data analytics company, and Airversity Drone Academy & Consulting.

Founded in 2019, Xeo Air is the next step in a management and entrepreneurial journey that has taken Bronwyn from strategic visioning at Fortune 100 companies like Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola, to media, academia and now aerospace futuring.

For those of us whose knowledge of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV – drones) has mostly been garnered from adventure movies, it may come as a surprise that in the next two years the commercial drone industry in the US is expected to reach $100 billion. In the four years since the Federal Aviation Administration granted more operations exemptions and flight regulations for professional drone services, they have increasingly become a part of business and civilian life, even if we aren’t always aware of them. They do and will perform functions ranging from mapping and data collection to delivery, crop fertilizing and facility disinfecting.

Xeo Air focuses on business to business solutions with inspection and mapping services with high definition video, thermography, LIDAR and infrared, for industries including civil infrastructure, oil and gas, wind, solar, utilities, construction, telecommunications, disaster response and government. Xeo Air is a young startup with an administrative team of four and 20 FAA part 107 certified pilots, and Bronwyn and her backers see it poised for growth as companies continue to embrace this game-changing geospatial data collection tool that saves businesses time and money so they can make decisions more quickly.

Additionally, to serve the growing need in public safety and corporations that need in-house capacity in unmanned aerial vehicles, a year ago, Bronwyn created a training company – Airversity Drone Academy and Consulting – which fields a team of FAA 107 certified instructors (pilots) based around the US who provide FAA exam prep and flight training.

A few questions for Bronwyn:

Are there a lot of drone companies owned by women?

I am part of a small but growing segment of the industry owned by women. Less than 10 percent of drone companies are owned by women, but the numbers are increasing, and there are more women in senior positions in larger companies as well.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced with your company so far?

Scaling up. It takes resources and time to grow your client base and to source talent, and you must sharpen your business model as the environment changes in this young industry. We also have limitations based on regulations and equipment innovation, but that is changing rapidly.

Have you had to educate potential customers on drone services because of misperceptions?

Absolutely. What most people know of drones is primarily their military usage. Our UAVs are very different and our business is different. We have to educate our potential clients about how drones can help their businesses and how we can help them make decisions faster, safer and at a lower price point than traditional services. And when you put it together with machine learning and artificial intelligence, the data becomes more actualized. There are so many uses for our services. Example: We’re able to get up and down a tower for routine inspection within an hour and capture significant data critical to immediate maintenance requirements. We can also assess damage to critical infrastructure after disasters, which can mean life and death in emergency response. Additionally, our capabilities can provide streaming information that allows customers to see real time the status of any asset. The use cases are endless.

What do you think is your competitive advantage?

We’re building an end-to-end product. We can collect data; keep you informed digitally through the processes and analyze the information for immediate use. We’re able to take care of customers end to end. And we can do it securely, with a high level of customer service. We treat our clients’ business as if it were our own.

What is in your future?

I’m working on solutions with flying passenger vehicles, to be announced soon. This is the future of aeronautics. It’s a dream job. When I was in high school, I wanted to fly fighter planes, which they didn’t allow women to do. I think my job is better!

We agree. In fact, please forgive the pun, but we think Bronwyn is soaring.

For more information on Xeo Air click here.

For more information on Airversity, click here.

For more information on NUDC and its free programs to advance diversity, click here.

What Will the Workplace Look Like After Covid-19?

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Motion blurred shot of two business people talking through modern office hallway. People walking in office entrance hall.

By BWISE

What will the workplace look like after the long nightmare of Covid-19 is over? While there is no way to be certain of the changes to come, it will most definitely be much different than it looked prior to it.

Companies across the country are laying off and furloughing employees in record numbers and unemployment has reached levels not seen since The Great Depression. In addition, we now have four generations in the workplace: Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Generation Z., each with their own needs and perspective on how Covid-19 has affected them. Unlike other economic downturns, this pandemic has also resulted in significant illness and loss of life for millions of people. And the devastation of small businesses is unprecedented.

How will organizations of the future handle all of this?

Companies are in the business of making money, not dealing with the fallout of a healthcare and fiscal crisis. There is not even a business function that exists to handle what corporations, government or academia is dealing with these days. While human resources might seem like the appropriate department to coordinate these efforts, it is not. After years of reductions in staff, it has neither the capacity nor the qualifications to even adequately handle what is happening now. What’s needed immediately and for the long term are experts in workplace solutions. These experts are paying attention to global social and economic trends and are advising business leaders on how not just survive, but to adapt.

The Importance of D&I

In the future, we will almost certainly see a rise in positions in life sciences as well as in supply chain management. As software began to take over the world, both industries have faced reductions in salaries and employees due to managements’ drive to cut costs. While millions of people practiced social distancing at home, we now see how essential these functions really are. And just as important is ensuring that organizations are not cutting back on their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) efforts amidst all of this. The economic disparity in race and gender has had a tremendous impact on communities of color. The rates of infection and mortality for Blacks and Hispanics far exceeds that of the population overall. Business and political leaders must prioritize plans to make sure that EVERYONE in the workforce can earn a livable wage.

Moving the Needle

Without an influx of new talent each year, the United States will far further behind other nations in innovative and technological advances. There is still a critical need for qualified technical workers, but we cannot expect women and underrepresented minorities to remain in work environments where they do not grow and thrive. We also cannot expect girls to enter fields where they do not see positive role models. It’s imperative that we stop the constant drip from the leaky STEM pipeline by working hard to retain diverse candidates from the middle to the end. Despite our best efforts to encourage future generations to become scientists and engineers, there is no guarantee they will enter or stay in the STEM workforce once their education is complete. Let’s spend more time and money to ensure we can keep those Black women who are determined enough to make science a career.

Founded by Erika Jefferson, Black Women in Science and Engineering (BWISE), which supports underrepresented women in STEM through networking, mentorship, and career development, is partnering with Cambio, a multi-faceted recruiting and diversity platform founded by Neil Patwardhan and Bob Richards. Both organizations are focused on truly moving the needle on DEI hiring in meaningful way.

Partnering for Good

BWISE, with its professional job board and network of over 15,000 scientists, engineers and technologists, can focus on guiding employers and diverse job seekers with a focus on Black women in STEM. And Cambio, through its diversity engine and analytics, can spotlight diverse candidates and focus on delivering the best. BWISE was founded with the purpose to support underrepresented women through networking, mentorship and career development. The group primarily consists of Black women from middle management through senior leadership with degrees in the sciences, math and engineering who would like to connect with others. The organization provides a platform and a space to share career experiences and be empowered.

Cambio’s mission is to create a more human experience in the world of recruiting and job searching, and to make the process more transparent by embracing the swipe culture of viral mobile applications. A powerful part of the company’s platform is the ability to surface underrepresented qualified talent to ensure recruiters get the right visibility. Cambio aims to speed up the hiring process and lead the way in diversity hiring to help companies meet their workforce goals for 2020 and beyond.

For additional information, news and updates on BWISE, visit www.bwiseusa.org.  

For additional information, news and updates on Cambio, visit www.cambiome.com.

How TikTok is Helping Students Heal

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tik tok logo black background white text and a musical note symbol at top

Popular social media app TikTok has become a viral success in the past two years of its existence. A platform that encourages original content and creativity, TikTok has become the home to aspiring comedians, dancers and musicians, giving them a space and an audience to gain popularity and to build their careers. But the potential success of young aspiring artists doesn’t stop there, as TikTok has announced its newest project, The Summer Songwriting Academy, which launched on June 24.

Partnering with the After-School All Stars program and Syracuse University’s Bandier Program, TikTok’s newest program serves to provide a space for students of lower incomes and fewer resources to have all the tools they need to express themselves through music.  The Bandier Program’s curriculum of the classes will not only include tools to better shape the aspiring musicians but will also offer classes in the music industry, music theory, and technology.

Many of the students who participate in the After-School All Stars program come from areas that have been especially affected by the impacts of the COVID-19, the death of George Floyd, and the injustices that have been brought to the black community. This being the case, Carlos Santini, the Executive Vice President of the programs, believes that their newest partnership with TikTok will allow for students to have a proper way to heal and express themselves.

“Music has a rich history in speaking out against injustice and speaking up for the rights and freedoms of all people,” Santini stated. “Our collective voice will be heard in a bigger way because of this amazing collaboration.”

In correspondence with the program, TikTok is also inviting some of their most popular musical influencers to share their experiences via livestream over the next four weeks. Artists featured in these segments will include Melanie Martinez, Timbaland, Tiagz, Jack Harlow, Mikey Keenan and many others. Any musician wishing to share their experiences can do so through TikTok’s featured hashtag, #BehindTheSong, where creators can post their songs.

To learn more about the program and to participate in its events, viewers can tap the TikTok Summer Songwriting Academy banner on the app’s homepage or visit After-School All Stars’ TikTok page, @afterschoolallstars.

Successful Pet Butler ‘Entre-manures’ Showcase Franchisor’s Strong Potential for Growth

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Rebecca Stewart stands outside in front of her Pet Butler work vehicle

(ATLANTA, Georgia)-Rebecca Stewart was home one night watching “The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch,” a former CNBC show that highlighted American business success stories. This particular episode featured Pet Butler, which provided “poo-fessional” pet-waste cleanup and removal services to residential and commercial customers. “Why didn’t I think of that?” thought Stewart, who came from a family of entrepreneurs and was in need of a change from her job in Corporate America.

            That was more than a decade ago and in 2008, Stewart did, indeed, become Pet Butler’s first franchisee in Georgia. In 2017, Spring-Green Enterprises (SGE) acquired the brand and it has been reinvesting in its marketing, technology and operational support systems, culminating in a modernized model designed to deliver a profitable, recurring-revenue business that caters to pets and their people.

Pet Butler is positioned for nationwide growth, especially in the Atlanta market, where Stewart serves clients in DeKalb and Fulton counties and Vinings in Cobb County. She has been one of Pet Butler’s top-performing franchisees ever since she left behind her 22-year career as a systems programmer analyst in 2006 before opening her Pet Butler franchise two years later. Working hard to build a new business was never an issue, given the history of entrepreneurism in the Stewart family and the skills and values learned growing up in a small town. “We work hard for ourselves and that’s earned us loyalty and respect in our community,” Stewart said. “I left IT because I wanted to be my own boss and create my own hours. In IT I was meticulous and that translated well to pet-waste removal. We are very attentive to the clients we serve and pride ourselves on our customer service.”

Pet Butler offers large, protected territories that foster scalable growth, which has helped make the brand No. 1 in the “No. 2” business for thousands of clients across North America. Roughly 85 million U.S. families, or 67 percent of households, own a pet, according to the 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA). In the U.S., pets include 90 million dogs and 94 million cats. In 2018, pet services accounted for $72.56 billion spent and was estimated to grow to $75.38 billion in 2019.

Stewart’s team provides pet-waste cleanup services to private residences, parks and multi-family properties of all kinds. Pet Butler also offers cat litter box swaps/cleanouts, onsite empty-clean-refill or sift out-top off cleanouts, as well as installation and service of commercial pet-waste stations. Pet Butler follows preventive safety measures during the novel coronavirus pandemic that include wearing personal protective equipment, sanitizing vehicles between jobs and practicing social distancing. “Pet owners have become very aware of the services we provide and appreciate the convenience that Pet Butler provides,” Stewart said. “We are seen as more of a necessity than a luxury.”

About Pet Butler

Pet Butler Franchise was acquired in 2017 by Spring-Green Enterprises, the parent company of +43 years old Spring-Green Lawn Care and SGE Marketing Services. They currently have 30 franchisees located in 26 states with long term plans to open 60 more within the next 5 years. Pet Butler provides an opportunity for pet lovers to turn their passion for pets into a business. To learn more about how Pet Butler serves pets and their people, visit www.petbutler.com and connect on Facebook and LinkedIn. To inquire about a franchise call 844-777-8608 or go to www.petbutlerfranchise.com

From Homeless Shelters to College Bound: Meet the Valedictorian who Defied all the Odds

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Martin Folsom wearing his graduation cap and gown

Martin Folsom, a former high school senior at Philip Randolph Career Academy, has just graduated as his class’ valedictorian. Folsom and his mother, Melva, have been in and out of homeless shelters since he was a child in an effort to escape from Melva’s ex-husband, a convicted murderer.

Though having lived in a few different states throughout his life, Martin and Melva somewhat settled in Jacksonville, where Martin went to high school.  

During Folsom’s high school career, the family struggled with finding a place to live twice, once during his freshman year and again in his junior year.

But despite his living situation, Folsom continued to work hard, having his mother’s support the entire time.

“I never thought to myself, ‘I can’t do this anymore’…it’s always been, ‘Well, it happened again and I’ve gotta keep myself up and keep moving forward.’” Folsom told WJXT News, “At my school, there are a lot of other smart people there too,” he added. “And if I let myself slip, they would take it from me in a second.”

Folsom plans to attend Valdosta State University in Georgia this upcoming fall with plans to join the FBI upon receiving his degree.

This Black-Owned Business Defied the Odds of COVID-19

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Shontay Lundy holding a bottle of Black Girl Sunscreen

When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the United States, business owner Shontay Lundy refused to let her company suffer the economic devastations that could come.

Lundy owns a small sunscreen company called Black Girl Sunscreen, which is run by five people. Now, as businesses begin to open back up in the United States, Lundy has successfully secured a million-dollar investment from a private female funding source.

Lundy founded Black Girl Sunscreen in 2016 when she decided that the world needed a sunscreen that specifically catered to women of color. The sunscreen uses all-natural ingredients, avoids harmful chemicals and is made to apply without streaking. The company has accumulated much success since it opened in 2016, but Lundy knew the company had to improve their strategy in the face of a pandemic, as businesses owned by women of color are given very little funding.

The Black Girl Sunscreen team decided that the best way to keep business afloat was to boost the company’s social media presence and marketing strategy, working overtime to accomplish their goals. Since this improvement, Black Girl Sunscreen received a tremendous boost in online sales, persuading them to release a new product in the near future.

The sunscreen company’s marketing campaign for an inclusive sunscreen has also earned Black Girl Sunscreen a full-time spot on Target’s shelves in 200 locations, the only indie product to be carried at all times by the chain. The company currently sells an SPF 30 sunscreen and an SPF 50 sunscreen for children.

The Co-Founder of Reddit Resigns to Support Racial Diversity

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Alexis Ohanian-Serena pictured at HBO event

Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit and husband to professional tennis player Serena Williams, has resigned from his position at Reddit to persuade the company to hire a black candidate to take his place.

In response to the Black Lives Matter movement, prominent subreddit pages, such as “The Donald,” posted derogatory and racist content toward black people.

While social media platforms are usually able to monitor and ban this kind of content, according to the company’s hate speech policy, the posts remained and were promoted on Reddit remained. In outrage, many popular subreddit pages privatized and blocked new content from being posted as a form of protest. Many called for Steve Huffman, co-founder and CEO of Reddit, to fix the policy including former CEO Ellen Pao.

Ohanian, desiring to better the platform, posted on Twitter on June 5, just two days after the Reddit protests began, and resigned from the company in favor of hiring a black candidate to take his place.

“I’m saying this as a father who needs to be able to answer his black daughter when she asks: ‘What did you do?’” Ohanian tweeted.

In addition, Ohanian has pledged to use any profit he makes in Reddit stocks to serve the black community, starting with one million dollars donated to Colin Kaepernick’s Foundation.

Huffman responded that he will be honoring Ohanian’s request and will be working to change their policies to specifically address hate. “I want to take responsibility for the history of our policies over the years that got us here,” Huffman stated, “and we still have work to do.”

These Companies are Stepping Up in the Fight for Racial Equality

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a person writing word Inequality on glass board

When it comes to encouraging diversity, especially during the Black Lives Matter movement, here are some of the companies that are supporting racial equality.

Bank of America

On June 2, Bank of America announced they will be pledging one billion dollars toward community programs and minority-owned businesses over the course of four years. The money was pledged in response to both the death of George Floyd and the impacts of COVID-19. Bank of America hopes this money will further help minority-owned businesses thrive, improve health services in Black communities, and open up positions for more bank employees.

Uber

To encourage its users to support black-owned businesses in response to George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter Movement, Uber has announced that it will be waiving all delivery fees coming from black-owned restaurants in the United States and Canada. This process will begin on June 5 and continue throughout the rest of the year. Uber has also stated they are planning to create an initiative specifically designed to aid black-owned restaurants, as well as other businesses.

Additionally, Uber has pledged to create more diversity within their employees.

UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealth Group is donating a pledged ten million dollars to help the neighborhoods of Minneapolis rebuild any damage taken in response to the protests. This will include five million of those dollars being donated to the YMCA Equity Innovation Center of Excellence.

UnitedHealth Group has also pledged to pay for all of George Floyd’s children to go to college when the time comes.

Disney

Disney will be donating five million dollars to companies that stand for social justice, including the NAACP, which Disney has pledged two million dollars to. Disney employees are also encouraged to donate to social justice causes, as Disney has promised to match any donation made by a Disney employee.

P & G

The umbrella company for brands, such as Tide and Olay, P & G has created the “Take on Race” fund that will be distributing five million dollars to organizations that will advance education on race, better communities, and improve all healthcare systems. The fund will be working directly with large and small organizations, such as the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, the United Negro College Fund, and Courageous Conversation.

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Upcoming Events

  1. National Society of Black Engineers 46th Annual Convention
    August 19, 2020 - August 23, 2020
  2. 2020 American Society for Health Care Human Resources Association Event
    August 22, 2020 - August 25, 2020
  3. Blacks in Government (BIG) 42nd Annual National Training Institute
    August 24, 2020 - August 27, 2020
  4. NFBPA: A Construct for Change Forum 2020
    October 8, 2020 - October 13, 2020
  5. HBCU Career Development Marketplace
    November 10, 2020 - November 12, 2020