Black History Month feature

I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Rod Johnson, cofounder and Chief Values Officer for BLK & Bold specialty coffee

BLK & Bold is known for its ethically sourced coffee beans and its commitment to social impact. The company donates 5 percent of its profits to initiatives that support youth both locally and nationally. BLK & Bold offers various coffee products, including whole bean coffee, ground coffee, and single-serve pods. 

Below we get to learn more about Rod’s journey at BLK & Bold, why he does what he does, and what his hopes & dreams are for the brand moving forward!

Co-founders Pernell & Rod.

Meet Rod Johnson

How did BLK & Bold come to be?

The brand BLK & Bold has been around now for almost five and a half years. We were roasting beans in my friend’s garage and I was managing our digital experience from my couch. 

First and foremost, it stemmed from how I see the world based on how I was brought up. I was born and raised in Gary, Indiana. It’s your typical city that has a ton of potential but doesn’t necessarily have the resources to fulfill that potential. For me and my business partner who also grew up in the same city, we were able to overcome those obstacles but that was not due to having an abundance of resources. 

And so we figured that whenever we were in the position to give back, it would be to that demographic in particular to be able to manifest the dreams that they deserve. 

What gets you up in the morning?

Very literally, the answer is my daughter. She wakes and is ready to go as soon as her eyeballs open. So that is my literal thing, but I mean, it’s really creating a  better world for her, right? So when she is 30, 36, I want her to inherit a world that is much better than the one that I inherited. 

At first it was for youth in general, that’s what was motivating me. And now that I have my own kid, that’s what motivates me. 

What are some challenges you’ve faced in this industry?

The biggest challenge has been not knowing what we didn’t know. We made a lot of mistakes because we are building the bridge as we’re walking on it, and we’ve done that all while self-financing, which is another challenge. 

This business is still 100 percent owned by myself and my business partner for now, and having to navigate exponential growth without having the resources to fund said growth can be challenging.

What are the most rewarding aspects & what is your dream for BLK & Bold?

We had a limited edition flavor with Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. I mean, how dope is that? That BLK & Bold was used as an ingredient for this behemoth of a company. Ben and Jerry’s is, in my opinion, the premier B Corp and who we aspire to be as a social impact enterprise. 

We also had an opportunity to collaborate with the NBA on a licensing deal. And that was really cool because not only did we get to bring the NBA into the world of BLK & Bold, but they actually matched our social impact with the sale of any NBA licensed products. 

I get to hire people and I get to, you know, I’m not only responsible for my family. I’m responsible for 25 other families. Like, that’s something that is, is very rewarding. They look to my leadership for their livelihood, right? They believe in what we do, and that they trust us with their livelihood is intimidating, but equally as rewarding.

My dream for BLK & Bold is to occupy a similar perception in people’s minds that people have when they think of Ben and Jerry’s. I think of Ben and Jerry’s as a social impact company that sells ice cream: ice cream is a vehicle to what they are trying to impact. 

What type of awareness, what issues now have awareness by way of this product? And I want people to think of BLK & Bold in that way.

BLK & Bold’s cofounders holding bags of their coffee beans.

Keep up to date with what BLK & Bold is up to

The conversation doesn’t end there! We encourage you to check out their website and give their coffee a try if you haven’t yet. Recharge is excited and honored to partner with brands like BLK & Bold to disrupt the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry and enable their success through subscriptions.