Boastful Black Culture And Booming Black Businesses Make Up Houston’s Landscape

What’s up, yo!

I took a reporting trip to Houston this past week and left feeling nourished. Fulfilled. Satisfied. Almost as if the city had piled second helpings on my first plate, and later handed me a to-go plate without me even asking.

I’m not even talking about food. I’m mainly talking about the fellowship, hospitality and familial love that came my way. All of it H-Town style, served up by Black people who I had never met but felt like I had known for a while.

Don’t get me wrong–I had my share of Southern comfort food. That included “Katfish & Grits” from The Breakfast Klub; an abundant stuffed turkey leg from Turkey Leg Hut; and jerk lamb chops from Taste Bar + Kitchen. Trez Bistro & Wine Bar hooked me up with a chicken-and-waffles platter that included collard greens and watermelon, which I wasn’t expecting but worked well in concert with everything. This ain’t food you just eat; you actually feel it.

I’m still feeling it, for real.

But the greater sustenance came from the people and places. I got to kick it with For(bes) the Culture Houston chapter leads Lauren “Bobby Pen” Williams and Jasmine Stanley, who each brought personality and energy that reaffirmed why Black women are so dope. They helped me navigate the city and made key connections for me that led to even more connections. Along the way I met Black entrepreneurs who unapologetically celebrated Black art, music and culture in their venues, all part of a vibrant Black-owned-business scene that Brookings ranks 7th in country in terms of size. With all the sights and sounds and connections, I realized that soul food is more than just food.

I’ve got a story related to my Houston visit in the works, but in the meantime check out my Instagram reel here. Elsewhere across the newsroom, FTC has been following a Black-owned beauty and tech company locking in millions of dollars of venture capital, as well as the best companies for diversity in Canada, one of the most multicultural nations in the world.

Stay up!

This newsletter edition was compiled by Raquel “Rocky” Harris.

Canada’s Best Employers For Diversity. Canadians often judge their employers by a different set of criteria than their U.S. counterparts. The country’s universal healthcare system and policy of publicly funded parental leave mean that companies need to differentiate themselves in other ways to attract and retain talent. Canada is one of the most multicultural nations in the world and creating a diverse and inclusive culture is considered table stakes for many Canadian employers.

Black-Owned Beauty And Tech Company Mayvenn Raises $40 Million In Series C Funding Round. What was once just a digital marketplace for hair extensions and weave bundles has expanded into an online database that offers a space for hair stylists to grow their businesses and consumers to find local salon services. The company plans to use the fresh funding to expand its partnership with Walmart.

Nominations open for 50 Champions. FTC 50 Champions are a model of business excellence in their field and are adept at making moves that help strengthen Black communities. Sure, championing the community takes many different forms–from being intentional about hiring, mentoring and funding, to efforts around advocacy and access–but we all know it when we see it. So, who are the Champions who have been making a significant impact on their communities over the past year? Nominations for the annual list will be accepted through August 1st, 2022, at 8:00am ET.

WATCH | How Slutty Vegan’s CEO Raised $25 Million To Expand Her Food Empire. Aisha “Pinky” Cole is a busy woman. The founder and CEO of vegan burger chain Slutty Vegan now has products ranging from kettle chips to CBD gummies, not to mention a shoe deal, a foundation, and an upcoming cookbook (Eat Plants Bt*ch).

In addition, Cole says a major grocery chain has ordered 60,000 units of Slutty Vegan dip, which comes in flavors like Bangin’ Hot-Lanta Chik’n and has already been on shelves at Target. And Cole is expanding beyond the Atlanta-based chain’s five stores into markets like Brooklyn and Baltimore. She says her goal is “to build a billion-dollar brand.”

“I think it’ll be great to be remembered for all the superstars that I’ve helped along their journey, but to be remembered for having some real, impactful work and creating real change within our community is more important to me.”

—Cortez Bryant, Advisory Board Chair, Project Go Dark

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