Three friends from the Southside of Chicago are the founders of the first Black-owned bread company. Serial entrepreneur Mark Edmond, who founded Pokatidy popcorn, teamed up with his high school friends from Kenwood Academy, Jamel Lewis and Charles Alexander, to start the new venture.
Edmond was inspired after a trip to the grocery store where he intentionally looked for products and foods created by African-Americans. He noticed one aisle, in particular, lacked the main item on every household’s grocery list — bread.
“I actually was Googling every single bread brand in the store. After about 35, 45 minutes, out of frustration, I left,” he said. “And that’s when I called Charles and got my best friend Jamel on the line, and from there, The Black Bread Co. was born,” as described on the BBC’s site.
The company offers white sliced bread, honey sliced bread, hamburger, and hotdog buns. They sell two-packs for $9.98.
Edmond introduced Lewis, a marketing guru, to Alexander, a communications professor and nonprofit founder, and the rest was history. They take pride in educating others with the hope “to build generational wealth in marginalized communities, and opening their company to the public is a great first step in upholding their promise.“
BBC launched in February 2021, offering high-quality premium honey wheat and white sliced bread. The site later added hot dogs and hamburger buns, in addition to various bundle deals. It also states that the company was “recently valued at over 50 million dollars.”
In another effort to support their community, BBC allows patrons to buy stake in the company for $250 per share. In April, the company announced its equity crowdfunding campaign, which has raised over $700,000 from over a thousand investors.
BBC is shipped internationally and distributed from a warehouse in the Pilsen neighborhood and sold in 70 stores. The company also offers internships with Phalanx Family to Southside youth and secured contracts with Kroger grocery stores.
BBC was also featured on “The Ellen Degeneres Show,” where Edmond, Lewis, and Alexander virtually accepted a $20,000 check for support. The three also appeared in Tina Knowles-Lawson’s docu-series, “Profiled: The Black Man,” to discuss founding their company during the global uprising over George Floyd’s murder.
“For us to be on the first episode, it gives us a really unique opportunity to dismantle that stereotype, to talk about if we’re dangerous,” Alexander told the Chicago Tribune. “We’re dangerous in a way of succeeding…dangerous in a way of overcoming stereotypes, overcoming obstacles in our current lived experiences. It’s a chance to mix in our lived experiences, and we’re coupling it with how we created our company.”