Coffee startup BLK & Bold’s cofounders on incorporating social impact into the business model


June 8, 2020 2:00 PM CDT

This is an installment of Startup Year One, a special series of interviews with startup founders about the major lessons they have learned in the immediate aftermath of their businesses’ first year of operation.

BLK & Bold was founded by childhood friends Pernell Cezar andRod Johnson, who grew up on the same block in Gary, Ind. They launched their independent coffee and tea brand from their headquarters in Des Moines after stepping back from from established careers in higher education fundraising and retail merchandising.

BLK & Bold, the first black-owned, nationally distributed coffee brand, is celebrating its second anniversary in June, and the cofounders spoke with Fortune this week about their business model and future trajectory, why social impact is at the core of their business, and how they are navigating a pandemic while combating racism.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.


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