I asked them to state their names before speaking in our conversation, but I caught on quick. It was evident in the beginning who was who. They were both individually different, but complementary as a collective. Not to mention, their voices weren’t hard to distinguish. Ying to his Yang, it made sense that Rod, ½ of the duo, is a Hip Hop enthusiast. He conveniently said to his partner, “It’s supposed to be a back and forth, right? It’s supposed to be like Redman and Method Man”, in reference to their picky backing each other so seamlessly. Pernell, on the other hand, is the talkative and charismatic truth, whereas his business partner is laid-back, direct and to the point. Not as elaborate as Pernell, but just as efficient. I asked the proud owners of BLK and Bold (obvious double-entendre) who they were as men in comparison to as a unit. As expected they answered the opposite:
Rod: It depends on the day first, but I’m a fair, driven, and forward-thinking individual.
Pernell: First, I’m a family man. It’s something that I’ve always been. It’s always been inherited as a responsibility, raised by all women. (This is evident from his spirit, and he talks so passionately about his wife and children today.)
They consciously remind me, it’s a two-man show with help from their inner circles, so why coffee and why tea? I was intrigued by their story, two black men in the industry of two of the most popular consumptions of all time. Consumers drink hot and cold coffee and tea beverages every day. My thought was how genius this was, to tap into this forever phenomenon. Not only have they taped in, but they’ve managed to create a lane and vision like no other. Approaching their year anniversary this June, these gentlemen are on the right track, already giving back to their community in a major way that doesn’t exist for us.
Pernell: I think a big piece of us going down the entrepreneurial path with greater mission and purpose tied to it; we wanted to be passionate about the products that we were bringing to market and that we can continue to stand behind. The products can stand the test of time as the market changes. We looked at what products we are passionate about as consumers. For me, it’s always been coffee. It’s kind of been a big part of my daily ritual as a professional, it kind of fuels me to go hustle every day. Rod is that way more on the other end of the spectrum, being a tea enthusiast. It just made a lot of sense from the synergies of us as consumers; the synergies of building a portfolio of beverages, especially when there’s so much innovation within coffee and tea. We just wanted to build a brand that consumers are passionate about that isn’t just about the product. It allows for coffee and tea to live under one brand. That doesn’t really exist in the marketplace in a mass way. You either have a coffee brand or you have tea. You don’t really see a brand that people rock with and they’re comfortable with the options that the brand offers.
There’s another piece about the “why” as well. It ties back to the purpose driven model that we do have with knowing what we wanted the heartbeat of what we built to be about and servicing similar communities that we came from. We grow as professionals and we make an impact in the for-profit world and thinking about a commodity space that allows for people to consume as usual with great quality; but to transfer the impact of the dollars that they’re spending to consume, making sure that it’s easy for people to have a shift in the impact in these communities without really having to change their consumer patterns. That was another validation, why we wanted to go into commodity consumer goods in particular within the space that we were passionate about.
Hailing from Gary, Indiana, they credit their upbringing for their entrepreneurship hustle and spirits today. They grew up in very close proximity to one another, Rod describes as, “Literally across the street; we have been best friends for over half of our lives.” This goes back to how you can tell so clear how close they are, stuck like glue, thick as thieves, brothers and now business partners.
Rod goes on to further explain, “Entrepreneurship was present, but it wasn’t called entrepreneurship. You saw many diverse businesses in the city, but the word entrepreneurship wasn’t necessarily attached to it. As we were brought up and going on to have professional careers that have become more of a buzzword. Ultimately the goal is independence and freedom of time to do the things you really enjoy. Entrepreneurship seems to be the best pathway to achieve that.” Pernell chimed in as he is famous for, “The other piece in regards to choosing entrepreneurship is legacy. When we really look at what do we really want to leave behind, whether that’s within our family, or within our communities, it’s really a legacy aspect. The only way to really control that and to build it is through entrepreneurship.” Where they came from it was mom and pop shop ownership more than truly legacy building to impact and change in the community.
The innovative two have found a way to merge their creativities and continue to re-invent themselves with ideas to imprint the culture since they’re start-up early last Summer. They’re on a mission to impact and like Pernell said, “5% of a startups’ revenue isn’t legacy building, but building the roadmap to have that sustainable impact as we grow is legacy building,” but they’re well on their way. He continues on, “From a product assortment standpoint, what we’re building is a portfolio of coffee and tea-based beverages.” Keeping in mind all the innovations in between and trying ways it can work for the brand, already setting them aside from any other brand that exists.
“The whole focus was to nail the foundation of the portfolio, which is the basis, organic everything organic, but micro-roasting the coffee in house,” the co-owner and coffee roaster Pernell stated. “We service shops that don’t roast themselves, restaurants that care about organic fair trade, have a more premium clientele; hospitality, like lodging, hotels, Airbnb, and offices, co-working spaces. We give them more of a personality behind the brand, a connection back to community impact behind the brand, and ultimately a relationship beyond the brand.”
It’s the perfect blend, the coffee, the tea, and the owners of BLK and Bold. “I have zero doubts that we won’t get to where we’re going.”
Just read why they do what they do in their own words here and all that they offer “as childhood best friends, founders Pernell and Rod were raised in less-resourced households in Gary, Indiana. Despite low socioeconomic surroundings, they both defied statistical odds to become college graduates, community servants, and high-achieving career people with many other successes along the way. Blk & Bold was born to assist current urban youth in similar circumstances defy their odds in pursuit of living their best lives; therefore, 5% of all profits are donated to support initiatives that further this cause.”