Ohio Business Spotlight - February 2022
In honor of February being Black History Month, today Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose highlighted eight Black-Owned businesses in Ohio that have shown what hard work looks like, continue to make their communities better, and inspire others to chase their entrepreneurial dreams. While there are countless minority-owned businesses in Ohio that have equally impressive and inspiring stories, the eight businesses highlighted below represent just a sampling of some of the courageous and creative efforts African American business creators have taken to launch successful operations in our state.
Jade Berry was one of the brave entrepreneurs in Ohio that started her business at the height of the pandemic. Jade knew she wanted to create a business that would be beneficial to her family and her community. She started The Stack – a shop for apparel, accessories, and art in May of 2020. Jade said they sell artwork from youth members of the community who want to get their artistic careers jumpstarted, and this was a great opportunity for their work to be displayed. The Stack offers also so much to the Chillicothe community outside of retail. They offer Life Ready, a youth development class for students and young adults to learn good habits and skills before entering their career field of choice. She hopes to expand her class to videos on YouTube for anyone to watch and learn about professional readiness. Jade is also on the Board of Directors for the Chillicothe Ross County Chamber of Commerce. Jade said the Chillicothe business community is extremely tight knit and supportive, as they all wish to see their community grow and succeed.
Alexus Hight started her eco-friendly baby clothing line in 2018 when she was having trouble finding clothing that was safe for her children. Alexus supplies her store with safe products like clothing, sippy cups, pacifiers and more. Alexus also holds a ‘Daddy Day Care’ class where she teaches new fathers how to do essential parenting tasks like how to put a car seat in a vehicle, how to relate to your young child, and more. Hutch Baby also has a childcare area in the store for parents to utilize when they are shopping and need an extra hand. New mothers can come in and ask a Doula or certified Lactation Consultant any questions they may have during and after their pregnancy. Alexus’ goal for Hutch Baby is to provide a comforting and engaging experience for all families who come to the store!
As the nation’s oldest Black-owned business, E.E Ward Moving and Storage has been providing Columbus with quality service for over 140 years. When John T. Ward started his business in 1881, it served as one of the stops on the Underground Railroad where John would help slaves safely get to their next destination. Soon, John started to transport furniture, food, and more. Since then, it has grown to be a moving business that thrives on respect and strong morals that were passed down across the generations of owners. Today, E.E Ward Moving and Storage is owned by Brian and Dominique Brooks. Together, they’ve strengthened the business and won several awards, including the 2017 Outstanding Diverse Organization Award (Columbus Business First), 2016 Corporate Caring Human Services Award (Columbus Business First), and the 2010 & 2017 MBE Supplier of the Year Award (Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council). Proud of their business’ history and upbringing, Brian and Dominique are always encouraging other entrepreneurs and doing their part to inspire the next generation. They look forward to continuing the legacy John T. Ward began.
Geoff “Razor” West started cutting hair in 2011. He loved being able to make people feel confident in their appearance and wanted to certify his skills, so he went to barber school and graduated in 2018. After he graduated, Razor moved to Athens where he started his own barber shop in 2021. Bam & Bros Barbershop has thrived in the Athens community. While the pandemic took a toll on Razor’s business, the return of students to campus has his business booming with appointments. Utilizing his high-profile location in downtown Athens, Razor has grown his business to include additional barbers to handle the additional workload. Razor said he is proud of himself and his fellow barbers because they are skilled to style hair of all ethnicities.
For the past 12 years, Johnny Hutton’s Zanzibar has been providing the Cleveland community with soul food inspired cuisine. When the pandemic hit, Johnny expanded his restaurants to include two takeout locations to meet the demand of his customer base. Johnny loves the Shaker Square community and strives to give back to it daily. Zanzibar is also proud to provide employment to individuals with criminal records, giving them the second chance they need to succeed. They also have a Thanksgiving event every year where they team up with local shelters and organizations and serve meals for members of the Cleveland area. Johnny was a strategic advisor for high growth early-stage companies before he owned Zanzibar, so he often teaches minority community members lessons on how to be a successful business owner and entrepreneur.
For just under a year, Onyx Café has been providing the Toledo area with “good vibes” and coffee! Keith B. Jordan Sr. wanted to have a place for his community to gather safely while enjoying each other’s company. Keith noticed that there was a lack of Black-owned coffee shops in Northwest Ohio, so he wanted to be one of the first! Whether you are stopping in for coffee, a zoom meeting, or bringing your kids for story book time on Saturday mornings, they have a healthy and safe space for customers to enjoy. If there was one way Keith would describe his Café, it would be a ‘hug in a mug’. Keith has also started a local magazine called ‘Stalwart’ which highlights the impact and contributions of Black-owned businesses in his community. In his spare time, Keith runs a non-profit called JLJ Vision Outreach which helps kids learn life lessons and how to excel in their schoolwork.
Dr. Tonia L. Farmer has had a passion for helping people since she was a young girl. When her twin sister passed at nine years old, she decided that she wanted to be a doctor when she grew up. Now, she is a board-certified Otolaryngologist/Head and Neck Surgeon, who takes care of patients that have problems with their sinuses. In addition to her medical career, she started Salt Me!, a business that produces and sells Himalayan pink salt as a therapeutic option to treat sinus issues, skin therapy, and allergies. Her idea for Salt Me! came from the success she experienced with patients in her medical practice. Salt Me! has various products such as hand sanitizer, lotions, inhalers, and more. Dr. Farmer loves supporting other small businesses like her own and takes pride in the medical practice she has built for herself.
Before coming together to start ARK Restoration and Construction, Ambrea Mikolajczyk enjoyed a career in pharmaceutical sales and her husband, Kevin, was in corporate finance. They loved flipping houses and making homes better than when they found them, so they decided to make a living out of it. Ambrea said their business model is driven by their passion for restoring homes and buildings for people of color. ARK Restoration and Construction is committed to making the Toledo area even better. ARK Restoration and Construction is a Minority Business Certified business and has worked to encourage and support other minority and women-owned businesses in the Toledo area. Most recently, ARK Restoration and Construction renovated the Wonder Bread factory in Toledo into an apartment building with 33 living spaces, where they also made their home office.
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