Tucson company helps black-owned businesses network

Mind your Black Biz helping African American start-up companies

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - Between startup costs and building a customer base; getting a small business off the ground can be difficult.

What do you do where there are other issues you can't control?

“It’s hard work,” said Jordan Rhone, one of the owners of Two Boots Barbecue (at 1830 S Park Ave.) He said it’s a job that’s no easy feat. He owns the restaurant with his good friend, George Loveitt, Junior.

"We work hand in hand," said Loveitt, Jr.

Together there can be long days.

"In here early and we go home late," explained Rhone.

The two have enough years of history together. They’ve cooked with one another at tailgates and parties. Between both minds, they could fill a recipe book.

In a way - they have. They decide why not make money from it? So came about Two Boots.

Their home away from home where they meet in the middle, just like their food.

"This is somewhere in between Louisiana and Texas," said Rhone, talking about their barbecue. Their mission was to solve what they saw as a problem in the Old Pueblo.

"You got some good steaks," explained Loveitt, Jr. "But no good barbecue."

As any business owner may know, there are sometimes even bigger problems.

"We've never been in this business before," Loveitt, Jr. said. "We needed more people to know that we're here."

Getting a business off the ground can be tough, especially when underrepresented in Tucson.

That’s where Mind Your Black Biz comes in. The company was started by Andrae Jones and Veronica Phillips.

They too, saw a problem in the Old Pueblo and wanted to put a stop to it. Statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau show African Americans and Africans make up less than five percent of the city’s population.

"We thought instead of battling, let's just join forces together," explained Phillips.

Phillips and Jones know some of the struggles firsthand.

"When I was attending networking groups, I noticed I wasn't getting the attention my counterparts were getting," Jones explained.

The two were often doubted because of the color of their skin.

"When I tell them I've had a business for the last 14 years, and that I have a masters ... all of sudden it changes," said Phillips. "It shouldn't change."

That's the void they hope to fill. Mind Your Black Biz wants to give African American owned businesses a network to lean on and prevent racial-profiling.

"We're doing this because we care," said Phillips.

Balance is key.

"Your business affects your personal life, and your personal life affects your business," said Jones. "You have to have that connection."

Like the connection that's been made back at Two Boots, where two buddies are still barbecuing.

Since taking Mind Your Black Biz' help, they've noticed the difference with each customer who comes in.

"All the accolades. The pats on the back," said Rhone. "They really count."

Loveitt, Jr. makes a good case for their barbecue on his own, "If you want some good barbecue come on down to Two Boots, if you don't know - now you know."

Tucson company helps local African-American owned businesses network (Source: KOLD News 13)
Tucson company helps local African-American owned businesses network (Source: KOLD News 13)

Though, a little extra help doesn't hurt.

Two Boots BBQ is located off of South Park Avenue.

Mind Your Black Biz charges a fee for its members. More information can be found on their website and their Facebook page.

Jones and Phillips said since they started about a year ago, they’ve been steadily having new businesses join them.

Mind Your Black Biz charges a fee for its members.