Here at Levitate, we’re committed to helping small businesses succeed. That mission drives our work--and our recent partnership with Wealth through Entrepreneurship for Black Businesses (WEBB) Squared, a nonprofit dedicated to closing the racial wealth gap by supporting Black entrepreneurs.
As part of this partnership launched during National Black-Owned Business Month, we’re sponsoring several Black entrepreneurs’ participation in WEBB Squared programs and providing them with free Levitate accounts to grow their businesses. Learn about one of these talented entrepreneurs, Lori Jones of Black·ology Coffee Company, below.
Black·ology is a Black woman-owned coffee company in the Triangle area, which I founded at the height of the pandemic in 2020. We’re dedicated to cultivating a love of black coffee through community, education, and partnership. We get much of our coffee bean supply from minority women-owned businesses in Africa and Latin America and select coffee with undertones of citrus, floral, caramel, and chocolate. Our name is intended to mean whatever it means to you. A lot of coffee lovers love and respect black coffee (without cream or sugar), so that’s the primary factor there. Those who support the Black Lives Matter movement identify with it from a different perspective.
I always wanted to open a coffee shop. I thought of the name in 2019, but I didn’t start it because I didn’t think it was the right time.
It just so happened that during the pandemic, I got laid off as a chef. When the unemployment money came, I thought, “I can literally use this and just pay my bills and put 30 bucks to the side--or I can use this as an opportunity to help me and my family in the long run.” So, it came together in a matter of three or four days because it was already in my head. I created and printed labels for my first bags, and it kind of unfolded from there. It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done--starting a business in a pandemic.
I would encourage them to find an organization like WEBB Squared, where people are going to give you genuine information because they care about you and your business. In addition, don’t be afraid to ask questions. There is no such thing as a dumb question.
And for anyone thinking of starting a business -- I would suggest doing so on the side or part-time at first if possible. What nobody initially told me is that you have to have been in business for two years to get a loan from a bank. For those first two years, you need to be prepared to bootstrap.
Knowing that this is something I’ve created. I like taking the things that I’ve learned at other companies and really putting them to work in the ways that I’ve always thought that they should be. But also, there’s a branch of the business coming, regarding building confidence through coffee. I’m a survivor of sexual assault, and this business helped build my self-confidence back up. I’d like to help others do the same.
The big picture is to open a storefront that would double as a warehouse. I really want to own four to five locations on my own and then franchise. When I first launched, I said I want us to be “black Starbucks”--but better and in a way that gives back.
I feel like if coffee is a $300 billion industry, why can’t we make $1 billion and pay everybody a living wage and then give back to the community in a massive way?
I personally don’t care to be rich, though. I want to be financially free. I want to own a farmhouse and a pick-up truck, and I’d be happy!
I’m a fan of pour-overs--you’re going to get a much better taste and experience. That’s my form of meditation in the mornings. It shows that if you slow down to enjoy the little things, it can be a completely different experience.
Also, I always tell people the third sip’s the charm. For those who don’t drink it black now, give it to the third sip until you add creamer. Creamers often add flavor or with acidic coffee change the experience you would get.