George Washington Carver. Madam C. J. Walker. Marie Van Brittan Brown. Those are just three of many Black entrepreneurs that changed the world we live in through innovation — from the scientific uses for peanuts to hair products, and the home security system.
Unsurprisingly, Lakeland is bursting at the seams with world changers of its own. With this in mind, and in honor of Black History Month, we asked our friends at Catapult Lakeland, Polkway863 + Buena Market to help us curate a list of local Black entrepreneurs we should be watching.
Let’s remember all the great minds who came before us while looking to the present to witness history in the making. ⬇️
Chequita Blake | Blue Velvet Cupcakes
With one batch at a time, Chequita Blake is taking the local culinary scene by storm (and sweetness). Chequita — a mother of two — developed her famous cupcake recipe while working at Publix. Now she sells a multitude of desserts through her business, Blue Velvet Cupcakes, at Lakeland Square Mall (3800 US Hwy 98 N.).
Dena Goldfine | Higher Heights Group
Dena Goldfine worked in the vitamins + health and beauty industry for 25 years and created the Higher Heights Group — a unique boutique brokerage to sell natural organic health + body care products to health food stores. You can find her favorite products like Malama Mushrooms + Golden Moss smoothies on her Instagram page.
Lisa Kirk | Blended Family Foundation
After the death of her 17-year-old son, Lisa Kirk turned her family’s grief into giving by donating to kids in need. Over the past three years, her company, the Blended Family Foundation, has donated 2,100+ pairs of shoes and over 5,000 pairs of socks. Lisa has also grown her business, alongside her husband, by also adding tutoring services + creating emergency closets.
Sean Wilson | Sean Wilson Piano
While Sean first got a degree in mathematics, his love of music drew him to create his company Sean Wilson Piano, where he teaches online courses, specializing in gospel music. After a dare from a friend, Sean realized that learning music was akin to learning an entirely new language.
Nathaniel Kendrick | The Kendrick Company
Nathaniel has been a lifelong entrepreneur, starting his own marketing company in 2016. His inspiration in becoming an entrepreneur stems from his ability to problem solve + even at a young age the entrepreneur bug bit him, as he would sell repackage pieces of candy in elementary school. Nathaniel’s business, The Kendrick Company, specializes in helping businesses find their purpose.
Trey Smith | Alpha Omega Athletics
Trey (RDN, LDN) attended the National Personal Trainer Institute at the National Academy of Sports Medicine, where he met his wife Atenea Lara (also a local entrepreneur). Trey — a 14 year US Air Force Veteran — started lifestyle brand Alpha Omega Athletics to bridge the gap between fitness + self-motivation.
Charlene Campbell | Global Virtual Academy
Charlene started her entrepreneurial journey and found her love of travel at a young age. In middle school, she raised money to travel internationally with her soccer team. Charlene started the company, Global Virtual Academy, to bring accessible and world-broadening education to future generations.
Alicia Mills | Makeup Sex Podcast
Alicia Mills worked to create a safe space where women could listen to unfiltered tips on sex and makeup via her podcast — which rated five stars. Her podcast launched in mid-2020 and she’s already cranked out 10 episodes.
Torrius Hooper | Torrius Inc
From payroll services and business development to IT services and web development, Torrius started her business, Torrius Inc, with 10 years of experience under her belt. During her pre-launch, she racked in $6,000 + and is now on her way to earning $150,000 in under six months of business.
Joel Brown | Faith Celebration Church
Bishop Joel Brown — the senior pastor at Faith Celebration Church — started his church in 2012, coming from a background in law as an attorney. His church’s vision is “To Love God, Love People; Walk in Faith and Reject fear; To Equip the Saints.”
Ernesto Samuel | Covalent Learning Centre
Ernesto — a biomedical executive — relocated to Lakeland to open his business, Covalent Learning Centre. His company is built on his foundation of developing solutions for the unmet needs of life science.
Stacy Jones | Simply Creative Designing
A design mogul at heart, Stacy created Simply Creative Designing, where she takes the simple approach of creating minimalist designs and turns them into breathing living entities.
Melissa McClure | Southern Babies
With a love for creating things people can enjoy, Melissa moved to the Lakeland area for better job opportunities. While she lives in Bartow, she often travels to Lakeland for the many family activities the city offers. She started her company, Southern Babies LLC, after realizing how many harmful ingredients there were in store-bought food. Her products are broken down into stages, from introduction to solids to little fingers + more.
Dorcas Crumbley | Essential Catering Solutions
Dorcas owes her entrepreneurial lifestyle to what she learned from her family and through church — a desire to give back to the world around her, provide for loved ones, and to share with others. Her catering business, Essential Catering Solutions, specializes in bereavement and provisional kindness.
Prince Hixon | My Touch Barber Shop
Prince, a Lakeland High School alum, owns My Touch Barber Shop — a local barbershop with a mission of #KeepingTheCityFresh + offers services like comb-overs, pompadours, and hot towel shaves.
Landlin May | PolkWay863
Local student, Landlin, created the brand PolkWay863, an account on Instagram featuring local sports, cuisine + entertainment with nearly 14,000 followers. Landlin is known in Polk County as an influential, courageous leader, who loves sharing his passion for the community through entrepreneurship, music, and social activism.
Mika Altidor | Victor & Mika’s Bakery Inc.
Polk County entrepreneur + award-winning baker, Mika Altidor, has recently published her first cookbook, called “Chasing Vegan” (which you can find on Amazon). As the owner of Victor & Mika’s Bakery Inc., Mika says adopting a vegan lifestyle changed her life + she is working to spread the message about the health benefits of veganism in Polk County.
Leah Bell | Glow Beauty Bar
Celebrating one year of being in business, Leah Bell started Glow Beauty Bar to help enhance her clients’ natural beauty. Along with being a business owner, Leah is also a licensed esthetician, wax specialist, and makeup artist.
Aaron Thomas | Atvisualz
Bartow High School alum, Aaron Thomas, started Atvisualz — a local photography business. Aaron got more into taking photos after starting a Youtube channel, where he’d interview people, create reaction videos + more. According to Aaron, he’s inspired by telling a story through images.
Prima Burney | Open Door Apothecary
Open Door Apothecary was started by Prima Burney. Along with being a business owner, Prima is also a yoga instructor. Through her business, you can order herb mixes like Stay Well Tea + Stress-Free Zone Tea, and request one-on-one wellness consultations.
Titus Moye | Titus Moye Photography
Plant City-born Titus Moye created his photography business, Titus Moye Photography, after realizing his love of taking photos. His photography journey began when he was in high school + has now grown his Instagram account to over 20,000+ followers.
Dr. Sallie Brisbane-Stone | The Well
Dr. Sallie Brisbane-Stone is working to bring a new event + co-working space to Lakeland called The Well. Dr. Sallie founded her business, Well Done Events to empower and enrich the lives of women through coaching, mentoring + community outreach.
Stephanie Claytor | Blacktrekking
With a background in reporting, Stephanie is a published author, showcasing her work: Blacktrekking (a story that focuses on her travels in Latin America). Also: Her family travel blog, www.Blacktrekking.com is about her travels worldwide. #ProTip: Follow Stephanie on Instagram to see more of her adventures.
Drew Williams | 16.92 Coffee + Matcha Bar
Twenty-nine-year-old Drew Williams popped on the coffee scene with his specialty brews which he serves through his business, 16.92 Coffee + Matcha Bar. Drew first dreamed up 16.92 in a design class in 2012, when he was asked to create a mock-brand for an assignment.
Antoinette Pollard | Pieces 2 Peace Counseling
As a licensed mental health counselor and marriage communication facilitator, Antoinette Pollard started her counseling business, Pieces 2 Peace Counseling. Antoinette is also a yoga teacher at Pieces To Peace Counseling and can teach aerial or mat yoga.
Ashanti Lauren | Lauren Nailed It
As a licensed nail technician, Ashanti is a Tampa native with family roots in Lakeland. She was inspired to start her own nail business, Lauren Nailed It, after not being able to find a natural nail manicurist in the area.
Shaquilla Williams | Dior Beauty And Esthetic Lounge | Polk County Who’s Who In Business | Larger Than Life Event Planning Custom Designs And Treats
Ms. Shaquilla Williams was voted “Best of the Bay” three years in a row for her work as a wedding designer and as an award-winning wedding + floral designer. She teaches and influences women all over the world through her event, design, and treat making workshops. She can be seen In Brainz & RollingOut Magazines.