- Supporting local Black owned businesses can help provide a sense of community and belonging to those who have felt disenfranchised or underrepresented.
- Helping local Black owned businesses survive and thrive in Rochester sets an example for our youth that entrepreneurship and business ownership opportunities exist, and this community wants to see everyone win.
- Purchasing goods and services from local Black owned businesses can help reduce the economic and systemic inequity faced by many Black Americans dating back to Jim Crow laws and earlier, preventing access to financial resources, homeownership, and business ownership.
Below are recent Post Bulletin articles featuring local Black owned businesses. Do you know a business with a great story? Send an email to RochesterInColor@postbulletin.com
'God had better plans' for Black-owned restaurant
Known for having some of the best cheese steaks in town, Jersey Jo's brings a taste of New Jersey to Rochester.
Owner Joseph Phillips is originally from New Jersey. He relocated here for an engineering position at IBM.
But Phillips' passion was to become “independent.” That opportunity came after being laid off from IBM. While his wife’s career had begun to flourish at Mayo Clinic, Phillips spent his free time developing a solid business plan around his passion. Phillips loved to cook.
Rochester stylist offers the royal treatment
Cashmere Lux Hair Salon is owned and operated by master stylist Folashade Oloye. Her family, friends and patrons call her Shade, pronounced Sha-day.
Shade felt the name Cashmere Lux reflects her vision of “royalty with a touch of soft.” Her love for hair started when she was 14 years old. Her uncle had been encouraging Shade to come to Minnesota for a while. She was a troubled teen and decided to take a chance.
After a while her troubled behavior would show up here. This eventually led to a conviction and incarceration. Shade says with pride that while incarcerated, she decided to change her life. She was able to practice and perfect her technique on her fellow inmates.
Future looks good for graphic design business
Lee Green is at the helm of operations for Greenhouse Grafix, a business that takes its name from its owner and its location -- Green's house.
Green holds a bachelor's degree from Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa, where he studied graphic design. He worked as art director at the Professional Skaters Association in Rochester for 15 years.
As a graphic designer, Green has always had an eye for detail. He likes things to look good -- he says he'd design the world, if he could. Around him, Green saw many different published products that could use his artistic touch. There was a need and an opportunity for him, he felt, in Rochester.
Need a lift? Whitehorn's will take you there
William “Bud” Whitehorn left Chicago in 1995 in search of a better life and environment for him and his family. Several members of his family had moved from Chicago to Rochester before he did. When he’d come to visit, he was able to get a close and personal look at neighborhoods and opportunities for his own family.
William insisted that I call him Bud. Everyone in his family and the community calls him Bud, he says. He believes one of his purposes in life is to be an advocate for the underserved and at-risk community – that is, anyone who's had to suffer the consequences of making bad decisions. He refers to these individuals as his people.
Besides owning his business, Whitehorn’s Reliable Shuttle Service, Bud works as an outreach and continued care worker at Zumbro Valley Mental Health Center in Rochester. He hosts a community support group called Hustler’s Anonymous. The group addresses the core thinking process that has a direct effect on adult behavior that leads to a cycle of criminal and addictive behaviors.
This business helps people change their lives for the better
Marcell Garretson is the owner and operator of Change Services LLC.
He is from Minneapolis and has over 20 years of experience in the areas of adult foster care, Department of Corrections (DOC) and work release programs.
When asked about the name Change Services, Garretson said it came to him in a dream. He said many of the individuals his company provides services to often say, “I need a change.” That change usually refers to their lifestyle, mindset or surroundings. When asked where his vision came from, he answered, “my own personal difficulties as a Black man trying to obtain stable housing.”
Rochester is better on the second try for Black barber
Growing up in Asheville, North Carolina, Antewan Webber had his sights set on playing in the National Football League. But his dream of doing that was cut short when he didn’t score high enough on his ACT to qualify for a scholarship.
In 1998, Webber was advised by a high school coach to come play football for Rochester Community and Technical College (RCTC). It was a long way from home, but Webber thought it might help him eventually realize his NFL dream.
He didn’t last long at RCTC. The culture shock was too much for him to deal with. There were other factors that weighed in. Webber felt Rochester lacked diversity, the football team coach seemed to perceive his questions as expressions of defiance, and Webber grew tired of people trying to correct his grammar. There was a big difference between Southern and Midwestern pronunciation.
Want to get a start in business? She can help
ELOCINA Consulting & Customization is a dual business owned by Tawonda Burks.
She combined the names of her daughters to create her business name. Nicole spelled backwards and the “a” is from Arica.
Originally from Chicago, Burks is currently enrolled in a doctoral program for a degree in educational leadership. She also has a master’s degree in business administration from St. Mary’s University.
More than a musician, Mack's really running a business
Raised in North Minneapolis, Annie Mack found her way into the tough and competitive music industry by traveling as far as Switzerland to get the experience she needed to grow her talent.
Her singing career began to soar in 2017 after the release of her CD, “Tell It Like It Is.” Mack considers herself a vocalist and a band leader – and it is in the second role that she essentially runs a business.
As band leader, Mack's role is to network with bands she knows or have been referred to her. She responds to inquiries from venues. She's responsible for contract negotiations. She sets prices – usually contingent on the size of the venue, the hours she is asked to perform, and whether it's inside or outdoors.
This 'Barbershop' doesn't cut, it builds
Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Andre Crockett was recruited in 1995 to play basketball at Rochester Community and Technical College. He later went on to Winona State University, where he got a bachelor’s degree in social work.
After graduation, Crockett worked for Olmsted County, where he witnessed first hand the “gaps” in service for people of color. This ignited his passion that was inspired by his mother’s social worker, Gwen Swanson.
“She was determined to help my mother become independent of the welfare system,” Crockett said. And she did. That cinched his career path. Crockett's grandmother and mother both had been on welfare, but he broke the family's cycle of poverty.
Entrepreneur finds fresh start in Rochester
Keith Lee is the oldest of six children. His mother suggested he come to Rochester after an invitation was extended from his brother Andre. Keith is from Baltimore, Md., and was released from prison in 2004. Shortly after his release, he found himself struggling with an addiction he’d battled prior to his incarceration.
After Keith arrived in Rochester, he ended up in the hospital due to heroin withdrawals. It was during this time Keith decided to get serious about his recovery. He believed Rochester would give him that fresh start.
Once Keith was released, his brother introduced him to a man who owned real estate in Rochester. In Baltimore he had learned the skills required to perform home repairs. Keith's father was killed in a job-related accident when Keith was 10 years old, leaving his mother with a house to maintain. He’d listen to his mother cry at being overcharged for repairs and upkeep. Keith was tired of seeing the hurt in his mother’s eyes, so he made her a promise. That promise was to learn any and everything about home repairs.
St. Mary's graduate is back in Winona with a big goal
Natalie Williams was part of St. Mary's University's women's basketball team from 2011 to 2015. She left Winona after graduating, but now she's back, to make a difference on the court -- and in the community.
Williams is a community engagement fellow with Lead for America, a nonprofit organization that operates a community-centered public service program for compassionate young leaders. Its focus is to empower young leaders to return to their college town or their hometown to perform a civic duty.
Williams grew up in Chicago. She learned about St. Mary's at a college fair, came to attend the school and served as the women's basketball team manager from 2011 to 2014. She played for the team her senior year, in 2015.
From basketball to barbershop: Uncle Gil's fills a need in Winona
Gilbert Jordan IV prefers to be called Gil.
He came to Rochester in 1996 with his cousin from Chicago in hopes of playing semi-professional basketball. But he quickly became known for another skill. Gil rarely went anywhere without his hair clippers and he cut hair for his teammates. Word of his expertise traveled and his client list grew.
Gil met and married Shade Jordan, who owns and operates the Cashmere Lux hair salon in Rochester, where Gil would cut hair.
DJ 'LaidEe P' makes it her mission to ignite Rochester's music scene
DJ and entertainer Jas Hardy is trying to break a cycle she was part of.
Also known by her DJ name, "LaidEe P," Hardy left Rochester shortly after graduating from John Marshall High School in 2006 to pursue a music career.
The arts community in Rochester is “not really there,” she said, nor was the support she needed, and that made it difficult to get off the ground.