Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs are an integral part of Philadelphia’s history. While Pew Research’s 2019 “State of the City” report found that they accounted for only 2.5% of businesses in the region, other sources estimate that 25% of businesses in Philadelphia are Black-owned when including sole-proprietors. With Black Philadelphians making up 40% of Philadelphia’s population, it is clear that Black entrepreneurs may face additional barriers that make it difficult for them to thrive. In honor of Black History Month, we are celebrating Philadelphia’s oldest Black-owned businesses and the accomplishments of our alumni and entrepreneurs.
Philadelphia’s Oldest Black-Owned Bookstore
Hakim’s Bookstore & Giftshop is Philadelphia’s first and oldest Black-owned bookstore in Philadelphia. Dawed Hakim opened the store in 1959 with the intent to educate people about alternative historical perspectives after noticing a lack of Black history in the American education curriculum. In 1997, Hakim’s daughter, Yvonne Blake took over the business and is still operating the bookstore today. The bookstore has a variety of African American literature, ranging from history books to children’s books to comic books and more.
Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse
Ariell Johnson, BBA ‘05, also continues the tradition of books committed to representation and inclusion. She has been a fan of “all things geek” since early childhood, which inspired her to open her own comic book store. After earning her degree in marketing and attending free entrepreneur workshops, Johnson opened Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse in December 2015. Located on Frankford Avenue in East Kensington, Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse is the first Black woman-owned comic store on the East Coast.
Johnson’s main focus for Amalgam is representation and inclusion. She has made continuous efforts to find diverse authors and titles to carry in her store, even going so far as to help these authors with their professional development. Johnson strives to make Amalgam a welcoming and comfortable space for anyone from any background to enjoy. In 2020, Johnson won the Equitable Entrepreneur Award from the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations for her help in revitalizing Frankford Avenue.
Kay & Kay Group
Kiana Muhly, BBA ’03, and Khadijah Robinson, BBA ’04, became fast friends after meeting in their freshman year at Temple. The pair found a shared interest in entrepreneurship and wanted to create products that improved people’s lives. Muhly earned her degree in accounting while Robinson focused on marketing. After pursuing their own ventures, the pair decided to start Kay & Kay Group in 2014. They have aspirations of their company becoming a known lifestyle brand, starting with the launch of their first product, AQUA Waterproof Headwear. Their turbans and headwraps are waterproof, stylish and breathable, and they can be worn in public or at home. Their contemporary headwraps have even been featured on QVC and HSN! Muhly and Robinson’s goal is to protect consumers’ hair from rain, showers, splashes at the pool and more but in a fashionable manner. Though starting with one product, the two Fox alumnae want to continue to create innovative products that make life and complicated processes easier for their clients.
Whose Your Landlord
Ofo Ezeugwu, BBA ‘13, used his off-campus housing experience at Temple to build a platform to bring quality, accountability and transparency to the rental experience. Ezeugwu studied both entrepreneurship and management information systems during his time at the Fox School. In September 2013, Ezeugwu co-founded Whose Your Landlord (WYL), a website where renters can rate and review their landlords and see what others have to say. Whose Your Landlord also includes rental listings and articles on housing topics to help increase housing literacy among renters. Ezeugwu, who is the CEO of WYL, wants to connect, empower and inform multicultural renters in order to bring equilibrium to residential housing.
Currently, Whose Your Landlord is being used in over 300 U.S. cities. During the pandemic in 2020, Ezeugwu partnered with Walmart to provide $25,000 in rent relief to 50 different Philadelphia families. He was listed in Forbes 30 under 30 for social impact in 2022. Ezeugwu continues to live by the motto “No steps backward; just forward progress.”
A Rising Entrepreneur
An up-and-coming entrepreneur to keep your eyes on is Winy P. Antoine. Antoine is a current Fox graduate student working towards his MS in Innovation Management & Entrepreneurship. He has recently raised enough capital for his restaurant group to purchase their first restaurant in Maryland and has plans to open their next restaurant in Philadelphia. Antoine’s goal is to provide customers with an authentic Haitian cultural experience through his amazing food and innovative concepts.
Supporting Black entrepreneurs
The Fox School is committed to helping entrepreneurs and businesses thrive, throughout Black History Month and all year long. Small business owners and entrepreneurs can take advantage of several resources at Temple to get the tools they need to succeed.
- The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) offers a team of consultants who are available to meet with small business owners and help them establish a strong business foundation at no cost. They also offer regular workshops and classes catered towards startups, business beginners and digital novices.
- The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) is available for all Temple students and alumni looking to pursue their own ventures as entrepreneurs. IEI teaches students how to tackle problems that may arise when starting a business while also giving them the opportunity to network with potential investors.