BLACK OWNED TEA BRAND HEADED TO NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE
President Obama signed the Jobs Act into law in 2012 and it’s the most underutilized tool we have to create Black wealth. Vanessa Braxton is hoping to change that. Braxton is the CEO of Black Momma Vodka and owner of the only Black owned tea and beverage manufacturing facility in the country. Vanessa’s vodka brand is distributed nationally and in Hong Kong, as well as the United Kingdom. Vanessa is using the Jobs Act to take her newest venture, Black Momma Teas and Cafe, public. The company is opening 500 stores and best of all, every Black family has a chance to own a piece of it.
Vanessa’s story is about ownership. The liquor business is tough and to compete, Vanessa knew early on that she had to own production and distribution of her products. Her company has manufacturing facilities in Oregon and New York, along with distribution facilities in Alabama, Detroit, California, Indiana and one opening soon in Chicago. The success of Black Momma Vodka set the table for Vanessa’s tea brand — literally. Black Momma Vodka doesn’t use chemicals to achieve its taste but rather, their beverages have always been flavored with with tea leaves — green tea, chai and pomegranate vodkas are all featured in Vanessa’s line. Naturally, this led to a lot of leftover tea leaves, which then led to making teas. Vanessa quickly realized that she could scale the tea operation very quickly because she already had a firm hold on manufacturing, importing and distribution; adding a retail component just made sense and that’s how Black Momma Teas and Cafe was birthed.
Black Momma Teas and Cafe will be, in Vanessa’s words, “The Starbucks of the tea industry.” The
company plans to add 500 locations which, in addition to tea, will offer Black Momma Vodka products
and in the California market, cannabis. Black Momma Teas and Cafe wasn’t simply a result of Vanessa seeing a market opportunity. Vanessa started the venture, in fact, as a response to strong consumer demand. Black Momma Brands have about 33,000 customers and already they’re doing roughly $3 million in revenue annually. Vanessa’s customers saw her business acumen and knew that she was someone they wanted to attach themselves to. It was Vanessa’s customer base that asked her to start another extension of the brand, which they could directly invest in. More than the brand, Vanessa’s customers were betting on a sure thing and that is a Black woman who is undeniably a rock and has been for many years.
Vanessa got her foundation from her parents, who taught her from an early age about education and generational wealth. Her father was an engineer who worked on Wall Street and her mother was in banking. Vanessa’s grandfather was also an engineer and so naturally, she chose that path. Vanessa became a structural engineer, working decades with New York City’s Transit Authority. In fact, she was charged with rebuilding the South Street Ferry Station and Fulton Street Transit Center after the September 11th attacks. Out of 77,000 MTA employees, Vanessa was the only Black woman at the time with that level of responsibility. Vanessa’s engineering prowess, inherited from her father and grandfather, also created entrepreneurial opportunities — she was the first Black woman to build a Burger King in New York, among other things. Engineering was definitely in Vanessa’s blood but so was the liquor business. Vanessas’ grandmother made wine when she was a kid and after Vanessa retired from MTA, she was ready to explore the business, also.
As an engineer Vanessa didn’t just want to be in the liquor business, she wanted to make it better. Black Momma Vodkas have raised the bar with respect to quality and will be an enduring legacy for Vanessa’s children. Black Momma Teas and Cafe will extend Vanessa’s business footprint to the retail space in a dynamic way. 500 stores are coming online and as they do, ownership opportunities are abundant — from franchisees to investors, there is a place for everyone. Vanessa Braxton is a proven, dynamic entrepreneur who has done it her way and now, we all have an opportunity to be part of her next move, at the New York Stock Exchange.