Updated: Oct 28
A loan helped create a FREE and SAFE Visual/Audio studio and live production space for the youth in Western PA to create art!
When people help people and communities help communities, we slowly become a better world.
I grew up in a small town called El Dorado in Arkansas. It's the first place I really came to know and the first place where it became apparent to me how apathy impacts a community. In El Dorado, I was known as the one with an opinion. It seemed like whenever something controversial happened in my community, people would come to me for my perspective. Later on, I'd also realize that I was voicing opinions that others felt like they couldn't voice themselves. The drive to start the BlackteaBrownsuga Network came from this realization. I wondered how many more people were relying on others to speak their mind and who didn't feel empowered to speak their own. I wanted to create a platform where everyday people could feel comfortable voicing their opinions and discuss issues with other members of the community. That dream has led me to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I gathered up some friends, bought a desk phone tripod and recorded the first episode of the BlackteaBrownsuga Network live videocast in the basement of an apartment I shared with my aunt. Now we operate out of a home studio, with mics, a green screen, over four live shows and countless community partners. In the future, I hope for our network to be a household name, I want us to continue to provide arts resources for youth as well as spaces for adult creatives to invest in young learners and give back.
This loan is special because:
it helps a community-minded entrepreneur open a new space for his business.
More about this loan
I started the BlackteaBrownsuga Network in the Winter of 2016. At the time, I had recently moved to Pittsburgh from Arkansas. As I talked to people and became more acquainted with my surroundings, I noticed a void in Pittsburgh. I noticed a void of positive depictions of black people in the local media, and I noticed fragmented efforts of lone community members trying to make a difference. I created the BlackteaBrownsuga Network to serve the black community as a platform for community-minded individuals to discuss solutions to issues and to connect people to resources that already exist in their community.
The BlackTeaBrownSuga Network is a live videocasting network that discusses global issues in the world and how they affect the community. We create and produce our own shows, which are supported by ad revenue. I also use my equipment and skills to produce podcasts, audiobooks, and other media for clients, as well as to DJ at community events. Although our immediate audience is the Pittsburgh community, our shows and social media are followed by individuals across the country and beyond. We’re proud to have 35,000 followers across all social media platforms.
I’m proud of our consistency and ongoing growth. There have been many platforms to come and fall, but due to the constant support of the community and my BTSN team, we're headed into 2020 stronger than ever and ready to boost impact here in Pittsburgh through our shows and paid services, as well as our new youth afterschool program.
What is the purpose of this loan?
As a solely digital entity, The BlackteaBrownsuga Network (BTBSN) has partnered with schools and businesses both small and large. We are now opening a headquarters in a storefront in McKees Rocks that will give us the public presence we need to boost our impact in and around Pittsburgh as well as within the McKees Rocks community. In particular, this location will allow me to run an afterschool program for youth interested in learning the industry. Resources and opportunities like this were out of reach for me as a kid and I am excited to be able to give Pittsburgh youth the opportunity to explore interests outside of subjects offered at school.
This loan will be used to cover the start-up costs for our headquarters and afterschool program site, including:
First 4 months of rent - $2,200 Marketing materials and signage - $1,800 Furniture - $500 Supplementary equipment for classes - $800 Soundproofing for the recording studio(s) - $1,200 Subscriptions/monthly service fees (adobe,domain name) - $1,000
Thus far, many of the expenses of running BTBSN have been shouldered by our Founder and CEO, which meant investments had to be made little by little. This loan will give us the jump we need to get to the point where we have everything we need to operate smoothly and bring in additional revenue.