BLK & Bold is a Black-owned coffee and tea brand that has achieved national success. The brand recently signed a multi-year partnership deal with NBA. The coffee and tea brand was founded by childhood friends Rod Johnson and Pernell Cezar in 2018.
The founders quit their jobs in higher education, fundraising and retail merchandising to establish the coffee and tea brand from their headquarters in Des Moines. In 2020, the company achieved national success after expanding to more than 31 Whole Foods locations in the Midwest region and launched an Amazon storefront. The brand said that sales from its website in the second quarter of the year 2020 were almost 40 times higher than they were in the first quarter, adding that it was a number one bestseller on Amazon in the U.S.
Cezar started his career at Target Corp. in Minneapolis, in August of 2010. He has a background in retail merchandising. He later became fascinated with the art of influencing and building brands for startups or multinational brands.
Johnson on the other hand has been a professional fundraiser for academic and health care institutions nationwide. He has helped raised millions of dollars for academic scholarships and health care research.
According to Cezar, he was inspired to venture into the coffee business because of the impact it has had on his adult career. “After learning of what better coffee could be as a consumer, I became continuously curious about the product I was spending so much money consuming and didn’t really know much about,” he told Fortune. “That curiosity created more love for the product but also personal disconnect with the lack of representation and non-community-focused values reflected within the industry.”
Blk & Bold has partnered with the NBA to roll out its newest flavor, “The Warm-Up,” a medium roast coffee with caramel flavors featuring two packaging experiences, the Eastern and Western Conferences, according to Because of them we can.
As stated by Des Moines Register, “The Warm Up includes a blend of coffee beans from Ethiopia and Central America and is described as having a fruity and caramel flavor profile. Each purchase on blkandbold.com of two bags — one representing the NBA’s Eastern Conference and the other the Western Conference — also comes with a limited edition trading card.”
“We’re beyond excited to partner with the NBA in a way that continues our mission to turn the daily ritual of enjoying a cup of coffee into a means of giving back,” Cezar said in a statement. “This NBA alliance allows the social impact at our brand’s core to be the most impacted and supported. It’s a validation of the consumers, fans, and partnerships that continue to prioritize socially conscious consumption and consumerism that makes a difference,” Cezar said via statement.
“It would be an understatement to state that we are thrilled to work with the NBA for this purpose-driven partnership that aims to amplify our efforts in resourcing America’s youth in need. The NBA continues to exemplify how business should be conducted, considering that it doesn’t happen every day that an organization of its magnitude seeks out a small business to partner with on such a cause. Consequently, my fanhood of the league is heightened tenfold,” said Johnson.
Per the partnership agreement, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Blk & Bold gets donated to at-risk youth through more than a dozen nonprofits across the country. The NBA will also match BLK & Bold’s 5% “For Our Youth” contribution.