Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Rod Johnson, Owner of BLK & Bold, located in Des Moines, IA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

BLK & Bold Specialty Beverages is America's first Black-owned nationally distributed coffee company. Our customer is anyone that enjoys the ritual and taste of quality coffee and teas.

Tell us about yourself

BLK & Bold's other co-founder Pernell Cezar and I have been friends since childhood, and that friendship has grown and deepened ever since. So, when he inquired about starting a business together, it was kind of a no-brainer, given so many shared values and aligning objectives.

What motivates us to do what we do every day is being an example for our respective families and leveraging our business as a vehicle to give back to the community we love through initiatives we have handpicked to support.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

As a business owner, my biggest accomplishment is heightening our community partnerships and programs. It’s been great to see the impact of our social impact initiatives, where 5 percent of our proceeds go back to helping youth in need. As someone who grew up without surplus, I know the impact of having resources. It feels great to be able to support those in similar circumstances.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

The hardest thing is probably finding the balance between home and work life, and I try to be intentional about setting the boundary between the two. I’m also actively working on how I prioritize tasks and how fast I get to them, as there is ALWAYS something to do.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Be patient and give yourself grace. Whatever you are building won't happen overnight, nor will the journey be without roadblocks. Understanding and acknowledging that will allow you to play offense so that when the inevitable comes, it does not deter you from the overall objective.
  2. Be authentic. Today's consumer is much savvier and tends to gravitate toward companies that are less about the transaction and more about the relationship. Try to incorporate some level of reciprocity with your potential consumer beyond the products/services you offer.
  3. Be creative, especially if what your business offers isn't necessarily new. Your spin on it could be the differentiator that sets you apart from the competition.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.