Black business owners find success and struggles in their work

Denise Henton said she has been frustrated at times running her business because she feels she has been treated differently because she is a Black woman.

But the CEO of Single Parents Rock in Englewood said it has given her the resolve to solve problems on her own and to find other ways to meet her needs.

As part of Black History Month in February, the Dayton Daily News is speaking to Black business owners about their successes and the struggles they have running a business in the Dayton area.

Black owned businesses saw a surge in interest beginning at the height of the 2020 summer protests in response to the death of George Floyd. According to a consumer report released by Yelp, searches for Black owned businesses increased over 7,000% between May 25 to July 10.

Kate Rivers is a former engineer who opened Twist Cupcakery in downtown Dayton in 2015. At the time, it was the only downtown bakery.

When she opened, Rivers told the Dayton Daily News that baking was a longtime interest and she started baking more after making a dessert buffet for her oldest daughter’s first birthday.

After doing more bakery orders, the business grew and she opened a downtown location through Activated Spaces’ Pop-Up Project. The business now has its own place at 25 S. St. Clair St.

To get started, Twist Cupcakery self-financed and did a Kickstarter. Rivers said the Kickstarter was an involved effort, but both helped with raising funds and building awareness about the business.

Rivers said she understands when other Black businesses say they can’t get funding to get started.

“We fortunately had the luxury to do that and we saved our money, but I do feel that a lot of people aren’t as financially able to do that,” she said. “There’s marketing, advertising all of those things that are big dollar items that a lot of the time if you don’t have a lot of money for that, that’s probably the last thing you’re going to do. "

Rivers said she wants her bakery to be supported because it’s a good business and not solely because it’s Black owned.

“I love the push for wanting to support Black owned businesses and want to support women-owned business, and small businesses, but I want to do it from a genuine standpoint,” she said.

Henton said she feels her race is one of the reasons she faces so many struggles with her new business.

“Here I am trying. I did my business and I’m continuing to do my business the right way and because of my color I don’t have the same opportunity as others,” she said. “If it wasn’t for the Montgomery County Cares Act, I don’t know what we would’ve done.”

Single Parents Rock serves victims of domestic violence and human trafficking including transporting victims to shelters within a 250-mile radius. When applying for different grants, Henton said she had been denied several times by a local organization.

“The first time, they wouldn’t give us a reason. The third time they denied us I asked them could they tell us what we’re doing wrong. They gave us feedback, we went back and corrected that and they still denied us,” she said.

Henton said that she also feels that because her business is only two years old, she isn’t given the same help that other organizations and agencies receive.

“It’s harder for us. They make us jump through more hoops than the other white organizations,” she said.

Despite the challenges, Henton said she has been able to beat the odds stacked against her company has been able obtain some small grant funds and was recently approved for assistance with Medicaid.

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