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Naomi Osaka’s Media Company, Hana Kuma, Receives Investment From The Players Fund, An Athlete-Led Firm

Naomi Osaka has scored another investment. As AFROTECH™ previously reported, the tennis athlete launched the media company Hana Kuma with Stuart Duguid in June 2022, in collaboration with LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s SpringHill Co., which serves as its financing, operations, and producing partner. In April 2023, Hana Kuma closed a $5 million funding round that included participation from SpringHill and other investors to support its team and programming and create “a more robust business plan.” The move was part of a spin-off that would give the company more independence. “We really want to see her build her own version of SpringHill,” Carter said then, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “We’ve worked really hard to get SpringHill where it is, but now we want to help others to do the same, and to do it different than as we have done at SpringHill, and to do it in their own way and their own voice.” Just over a year since its last investment, Hana Kuma has attracted...

Jun 18, 2024

Dr. Leeja Carter Created A Smart Refrigerator To Provide Healthy Food Options In Food Deserts Across New Jersey

After dedicating years to researching Black women’s health, Dr. Leeja Carter has developed a device to assist them. As a professor and a scholar, C arter had a desire to do more work within the community beyond the standard work on publications and presentations. Even in her academic role at Long Island University in Brooklyn, NY, she said she felt like a spectator to the issues that were important to her. That all changed in 2020. “My research and work were really social determinants of physical activity and its impact on Black women’s health,” Carter told AFROTECH™. “And being in academia for 15 years as a Black woman researching Black women’s health, while I definitely had spaces of comfort, care, and support, I would say there were greater experiences where I still definitely felt like an outsider and felt that it was still an uphill battle to gain support to do the work that was so close to my heart.” She added, “When you’re in an academic space, what is currency is...

Jun 14, 2024

Ashlei Spivey Opens A Birthing Center In A Historic Black Business District Located In Nebraska

A birthing center has opened in North Omaha, NE’s historic Black business district. A ribbon-cutting celebration will kick off around 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 13, 2024, at 2306 N. 24th St. I Be Black Girl, a collective for Black women, femmes, and girls focused on Black-led investments, policy and power building, economic, and birth justice, will host the celebration, according to its website. The celebration will continue throughout the weekend with a Juneteenth Parade on Saturday, June 14, and the I Be Black Girl’s Heart, Soul, & Roll Community Stroll held the following day at 1 p.m. “We want it to be a celebration because it’s such a big milestone for addressing and creating solutions around our experiences as Black women, femmes, and girls,” Ashlei Spivey, the organization’s founder and executive director, said per Omaha World-Herald. Spivey is also running to represent District 13 in the Nebraska Legislature. The facility is called the Anarcha Center in honor of Anarcha...

Jun 13, 2024

The First Black Vineyard Owner And Wine Producer In Mendocino County, CA, Is Giving Students Funding To Ensure More Come After Her

Theodora Lee is the first Black vineyard owner and wine producer in Mendocino County, CA. Lee’s introduction to wine began when she was 8 years old, while she was helping her grandfather on his cattle farm in Texas. By the 1980s, she had developed a personal interest in wine. ”My dad picked wild Muscadine grapes and made home brew,“ she told The Press Democrat. ”Given that Muscadine was my first introduction to wine, I found that sweet and syrupy wine nasty. I really had no taste for wine until I moved to California in the ’80s and learned about fine wine.“ Lee chose a path in law , working more than 36 years at the Littler Mendelson, P.C. law firm and splitting her time between Yorkville Highlands, CA; Oakland Hills, CA; and Dallas, TX. However, her passion for wine led her to add a new title to her resume: wine producer. “My first introduction to a grape farm was in Healdsburg, [CA], and specifically Dry Creek Valley,“ she said. “Walking that vineyard made me want to become a...

Jun 12, 2024

Rihanna Expands Her Billionaire Empire With The Launch Of Fenty Hair

Rihanna is expanding her empire! It is no secret hair has been important to Rihanna’s identity. Now she is taking that passion into the business world. The mogul took to social media to announce Fenty Hair will launch on June 13, 2024, and cater to every hair type. “A new family is moving in! @fentyhair is pullin up and it’s time to finally have the hair experience you’ve been waiting for,” she wrote on Instagram. “You know how much switching my hair up matters to me. I’ve had almost every texture, color, length, from weaves to braids to natural- so I am launching a flexible line of products for not only every hair want, but every single product is designed to strengthen and repair all types of hair, which is what we truly need! It’s time to play and get stronger by the style . WE COMING 6/13, but sign up NOW so you can get access and shop before anyone else  FENTYHAIR.COM.” View this post on Instagram A post shared by badgalriri (@badgalriri) At the time of this writing, it is...

Jun 4, 2024

Gardening During Her Early Years Planted Wawa Gatheru's Passion For Launching A Climate Organization Empowering Black Women To Become Leaders

Wawa Gatheru is striving to make the world a better place. Changemaker As previously reported by AFROTECH™, the Connecticut native and Rhodes Scholar founded Black Girl Environmentalist (BGE), an organization creating a more equitable space in the climate sector by empowering “Black girls, women, and non-binary people across environmental disciplines.” Her focus on the environment was born while gardening with her mom and grandmother during her early years, and she learned “the ethic of reciprocity and care for the planet,” her website mentions. It would not be until high schoo l that Gatheru would identify as an “environmentalist.” At 15, she took an environmental science course that framed it as a justice issue, revealing to her the lack of intersectionality in the field, and she recognized the field’s intersectionality gap. In higher learning, Gatheru further engaged in the climate space by pursuing environmental science and policy at the University of Connecticut (UConn), per...

May 30, 2024

Jeneé Naylor Went From Being A Target Employee To Snagging A Business Opportunity With The Retailer

There is so much beauty in making your dreams come true, and this former Target employee’s transition from team member to collaborator for its recent Future Collective collection is proof! Before launching her fashion brand, Jeneé Naylor began her Target career in 2012, quickly rising to the role of store director at stores across the Washington, D.C. area after several years of hard work and commitment. Now, 11 years later, the company has unveiled its latest Future Collective collaboration with Naylor and her brand, which features 70 new pieces designed with individuality in mind, according to Target’s company blog.   View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Target (@target) “From sketching designs in high school to working in retail, fashion has always been a passion of mine,” Naylor said. “It wasn’t until I was working full-time that I started posting my outfits on social media and gaining traction. Because my Target work schedule was so busy, I would create and batch...

May 23, 2024

Brittney Mikell Left The Pharmaceutical Field With Aspirations To Become The First Black Woman To Own A Brewery In Minnesota

Former pharmacist Brittney Mikell will be making history in her next chapter. WCCO-TV reports Mikell exited her role in pharmacy after experiencing burnout. She then decided to purse her passion in brewing and landed a role as an assistant brewer at La Dona Cerveceria in Minneapolis, MN. “I didn’t feel like I was making the impact that I really wanted to in healthcare,” Mikell explained to  Eater Twin Cities. “I woke up one day and realized that this could be a really cool place where I could make an impact. You only really live once, so I decided, let’s just pivot — why not?” Mikell maintained bigger aspirations while working at La Dona Cerveceria, referring to herself as “a huge dreamer,” per WCCO-TV. She plans to become the first Black woman to own a brewery in Minnesota. This is significant as just 1% of breweries in the U.S. are Black-owned, Essence reports. Additionally, of the 200 breweries in the state, few are owned by women or people of color, WCCO-TV mentions. “The...

May 23, 2024

Uncle Nearest Whiskey Purchases Vodka Brand Square One Organic Spirits

Uncle Nearest’s presence in the spirits sector continues to rise. The whiskey company, established in 2016 by Fawn Weaver to honor Nathan “Nearest” Green, a formerly enslaved man who taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey, has scaled into 30,000 stores, bars, hotels, and restaurant s in 12 countries, as AFROTECH™ previously reported. In its latest report, Bloomberg notes Weaver aspires to own a larger share of the spirits market. This stance has motivated the company to purchase vodka maker Square One Organic Spirits. Additionally, she mentions a settled legal dispute between Diageo Plc and Sean “Diddy” Combs concerning his vodka brand as a contributing factor for her latest acquisition, noting a void in the market and the importance of having a Black-owned vodka occupy space. The market is heavily dominated by major players such as  Diageo PLC and LVMH, with valuations totaling nearly $79 billion and $423 billion, respectively, the outlet mentions. Uncle Nearest continues to gain a...

May 21, 2024

Mary J. Blige Steps Into The Footwear Market With Her Highly-Anticipated Boot Release And Sells Out Within 24 Hours

Mary J. Blige’s fans have been asking her for a boot collection for years. Now, the music legend has delivered on her promise. In May 2023, the “Good Morning Gorgeous” singer exclusively shared with AFROTECH™ that her signature boot line was on the way. “It’s in the works,” Blige told AFROTECH™ at the time . “For some reason, this is taking longer than everything else, but we’re gonna get there. Trust me. Everything else is here so that’s on its way.” The time has officially arrived as Blige teamed up with Giuseppe Zanotti in May 2024 for “The Mary Boot.” What’s more, she was a part of the design process. “Giuseppe Zanotti and Mary J. Blige have transformed their longtime friendship into an exclusive, limited-edition collaboration,” Giuseppe Zanotti shared on its Instagram page. “‘The Mary Boot,’ a stunning over-the-knee boot co-designed by the two talents.” View this post on Instagram A post shared by Giuseppe Zanotti (@giuseppezanotti) During the 2024 Strength of a Woman Festival...

May 15, 2024

How This Mompreneur And Her Daughter Landed At A Mary J. Blige Festival After Frequently Getting 'Kicked Out' Of Other Vending Opportunities For Their Restaurant

Mary J. Blige’s Strength Of A Woman Festival (SOAW) returned for a Mother’s Day takeover in a new city this year, along with new faces and places to support. “We started doing pop-ups at bars, and it was just me and my daughter,” Chef Shelly Flash of 2 Girls & A Cookshop told AFROTECH™ during the third annual SOAW, the festival’s first time appearing in Blige’s home of New York, NY. “We used to get kicked out all the time, and it’s like we just had a mission. We were like, ‘We should share our food with the world because we’re first-gens, and a lot of times first-generation Jamaicans, we’re not represented.’ Either you’re all in the culture or you’re in this melted pot. We are always in this floating melting pot. We live in the best city in the world — that’s New York — and so what we decided to do is just keep putting out one Jamaican taco at a time.” She added, “And in Jamaica, we always say ‘Out of many, one person.’ At 2 Girls we say, ‘Out of many, one culture.’ We believe that...

May 14, 2024

After Becoming The Youngest And First Black Female Partner Ever At GV, Terri Burns Is Launching Her Own VC Firm

Back in 2020, Terri Burns made history at GV (formerly Google Ventures) as not only its first Black female partner but also its youngest-ever partner at age 26, as previously shared by AFROTECH™. The promotion came after she joined the investment arm of Alphabet in 2017. Now, the history-maker is spreading her wings to take on building out her own venture. Fortune reports that Burns is launching her firm, Type Capital. “To the next generation of founders… you’re exactly our type,” Burns wrote via Instagram when announcing her new firm. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Terri Burns (@tcburning) According to Fortune, the 30-year-old was moved to start Type Capital after seeing a trend of venture capitalists investing in companies only after seeing fellow VCs show interest first, which she describes as “heat.” Burns aims to change the status quo by taking the lead and pursuing risks “driven by true innovation,” not by other investors. “They’re talking to amazing investors,...

May 13, 2024

Piersten Gaines' Pressed Roots, Which Is Backed By Naomi Osaka, Now Has Four Locations Thanks To Expansion To Houston, TX

Piersten Gaines’ Pressed Roots is now on location No. 4 and counting. Houston Chronicle reports that the blowout bar for textured hair has opened a new salon in Houston, TX. Located in the Centre at Post Oak, the new spot accommodates 50 hair stylists, the outlet details. Before having four brick-and-mortar locations in Dallas, Arlington, Plano, and now, Houston, Gaines and the Pressed Roots team did popups around the time the company’s vision first came to life in 2018, as previously reported by AFROTECH™. After having her share of poor experiences at hair salons, Gaines created the company’s business model to fill the void of access to affordable, quality styling for textured hair of all types. “We spend a lot of money, a lot of time in salons, and the level of services just do not match the money we’re spending,” Gaines told Fortune. “Our goal is to make quality hair care accessible.” Moreover, to ensure that hair health, time, and top-tier customer service are prioritized for...

May 10, 2024

Backpack Healthcare Closes $14M Seed Funding Round Geared Toward Combating Youth Mental Health Crisis

This healthcare company is one funding round closer to fulfilling its goal of making mental health care more accessible. Backpack Healthcare shares in a press release that it has officially completed a $14 million Series A funding round led by Healthcare Capital. Also participating were ECMC, Techstars, Collab Capital, Bridge Builders Collaborative, Portland Seed Fund, Hopelab, Rethink Education, Genius Guild, and Unlikely Collaborators. Additional angel investors included Maya Ghosn Bichara and Jeffrey Walker. Founded in 2018 by Hafeezah Muhammad, the company uses artificial intelligence (AI) technology to combat the current youth mental health crisis through its app and teletherapy services, specifically honing in on those with Medicaid insurance coverage. “The funding we have raised underscores the U.S. healthcare system’s need for more inclusive, tech-enabled solutions to tackle the growing pediatric mental health crisis,” said Muhammad, who also serves as the company’s CEO....

May 10, 2024

Slutty Vegan Founder Pinky Cole Hayes Gifts $8.9M To Savannah State University Graduates To Set Them Up For Entrepreneurial Success

Savannah State University’s class of 2024 have received a favorable start in their next chapter. According to her Instagram, while serving as commencement speaker, Slutty Vegan and Bar Vegan Founder Pinky Cole Hayes shared the news that $8.9 million would be gifted to the Georgia Historically Black College and University (HBCU) graduates in partnership with Operation Hope and One Million Black Businesses (1MBB). “We are excited about this fantastic opportunity for our students and grateful to Mrs. Cole Hayes for leading this investment opportunity,” Savannah State University Interim President Cynthia Robinson Alexander, said, according to VegOut. The investment will support an “Entrepreneurial Starter Pack,” which will gift students with mentorship from 1MBB, educational resources, a free three-month subscription to Shopify, and an eight-week small business training course that will encompass business plan development and financial management, VegOut notes. “I am passionate about...

May 7, 2024