Black Momma Brands is getting ready to launch Black Momma Tea and Café after raising $2.1 million, without relying on venture capital.
After retiring in 2013 from her career as an engineer for New York City's Metropolitan Transportation Authority, founder Vanessa Braxton decided to use her retirement money to invest in a distillery.
She initially learned how to make vodka from scratch while in college. "You have so many resources to utilize when you're a college student. You really don't know where it might take you," Braxton told Cheddar. "When I retired from the MTA, and we moved to California, I took the opportunity to utilize my formula, and I said 'You know what? I used to make this in college. Why not take my retirement money and invest it into a distillery and create my own brand.'"
The company now has over 30,000 online and wholesale customers and counting.
Black Momma vodkas are infused with different tea flavors, so in this latest expansion, Braxton decided to keep with that theme, offering traditional, non-alcoholic teas through retailers, online, and at Black Momma Tea and Café locations.
Using crowdfunding and President Obama's 2012 JOBS Act, which eased many of the country's financial regulations to encourage the funding of small businesses, Braxton said she was able to raise capital for the new venture.
"When people see that you are true to your brand and true to your business they want to invest in you," Braxton said.
Beyond her own success, Braxton says helping non-traditional business owners build generational wealth has become a focus for the company. "I found that there are very few women and minority women-owned companies that have any manufacturing facilities and leave anything to future generations," Braxton told Cheddar.