Popular media platform ESPN may be most-known for providing sports enthusiasts with the latest stats and hot takes, but the long-running brand has also been instrumental in not only cultivating Black talent—but now, Black-owned businesses.
Launched in 2020, ESPN—in collaboration with NBA, Andscape, and ABC—started its Champion Black Businesses (CBB) initiative. CBB's aim is to elevate Black-owned businesses, showcasing the diversity and creativity of Black entrepreneurship and cementing their importance by sharing their stories across ESPN platforms during the NBA Finals and beyond.
“Champion Black Businesses continues to evolve and grow, and we’re excited to launch Year 4,” said Emeka Ofodile, Vice President of Sports Marketing, ESPN. “Black businesses are the heart of local communities across this country, and we’re committed to leveraging the power of our sports media platform to drive positive impact in those communities. Seeing the impact this program has made in the past three years fuels us to do more, and we can’t wait to get to work with our 2023 businesses.”
This year's cohort features four thriving businesses from some of the nation's top cities— New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Phoenix. In addition to being selected, each business owner will get a one-on-one mentorship session from Sharks Mark Cuban, Robert Herjavec and Barbra Cocoran of ABC’s "Shark Tank." They'll get expert advice on what it takes to grow their brands to new heights.
Below, check out the four Black businesses for the 2023 ESPN Champion Black Businesses initiative.
- Rock City Pizza: Joseph Charles founded Rock City Pizza in 2013, honoring his passion for pizza and his years of experience in the restaurant industry. A pizzeria dedicated to the ultimate pizza experience, Rock City Pizza was named in tribute to Boston’s music legacy, and now in two locations, is a growing favorite with the community.
- Oldvine Florals: Oldvine Florals is a floral shop founded by Itika Oldwine-Grimble. Her inspiration to launch her own company came while working under famed Los Angeles floral designer Eric Buterbaugh. After two years, she launched her business as a vessel for her own point of view on blooming creations with a modern twist.
- NiLu Gift Store: NiLu is a gift store in the heart of Harlem that is owned and operated by Katrina Parris Pinn and her husband Mark Pinn. Showcasing Black community, craft, and culture, the local gift store’s mission is predicated on purposeful giving featuring online and corporate gifting.
- Straw & Wool: Straw & Wool is a hat company owned by M Ali Nervis and Henry Dickerson, who noticed a gap in businesses in the Phoenix area. The shop is a destination for hat lovers and hat newbies alike with a variety of quality, affordable headwear and accessories.