Sheletta Brundidge Buys Billboard Ads for Black Business Owners
Sylvia Williams and Liza Maya, founders of Soul Grain Granola, never imagined they’d see their brand displayed on a billboard.
That is, until Monday, when the business owners were two of five Black women entrepreneurs featured on the scrolling advertisements across from the US Bank Stadium on South 6th Street in downtown Minneapolis.
The business partners described seeing their faces and brand on the big screen for the first time as “unreal” and “surreal.”
Maya is a nutritionist and Williams is a pastry chef. Last year, the two combined their skills to launch Soul Grain Granola, which sells culturally diverse granola options online, in local Kowalski’s Markets, at convenience store Camden Food Co., and in Spyhouse Coffee Roasters locations.
“I mean we’re going to take over the world now,” Maya said with a laugh as she looked up at the billboard. “But honestly, we’re trying to grow strategically and expand our presence to hopefully become a household name.”
The billboards were sponsored by a $15,000 investment from media personality Sheletta Brundidge’s production company ShelettaMakesMeLaugh.com, and will feature local businesses for two weeks. In addition to Soul Grain, the billboards also featured Rosline’s Candles founder Rosline Friedrich, Tameka Jones and her team behind the cosmetic brand Lip Esteem, hair and skin care product company Nature’s Syrup founder De’Vonna Pittman, and Chaz Sandifer-Lakeview of Lakeview Terrace Farmer’s Market. And of course a rotating ad for Brundidge herself.
For Black Business Month this August, Brundidge says it’s important to uplift fellow Black entrepreneurs, especially Black women business owners who historically have received only tiny fraction of venture capital dollars.
“It’s not just to help them, but to also show other people that we’re worth the investment—to show other people what it looks like to support Black women in business—because if we don’t do it, nobody else will,” she said.
Standing in from of the US Bank Stadium, Brundidge said former Minnesota Viking wide receiver Randy Moss was her inspiration for her company’s investment in women entrepreneurs this year. Moss recently partnered with chicken and waffles chain Chick-A-Boom in southwest Philadelphia. Founded by Brittany Tolliferreo, Moss will now be the company’s head brand ambassador. He told the Philadelphia Tribune recently “I invest in people and in visions, not in companies.”
After reading his story, Brundidge was inspired to invest, too. But she emphasized that Black-owned businesses are not only for Black people and need to be patronized and invested in by the entire community.
“’I’m so glad that so many people are here looking at these billboards, but I need them to translate into searching, into supporting, also investing,” she said.
Tameka Jones of Lip Esteem said she’s proud to have hit her three-year mark this year. Her company launched after the civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd, and her brand was built with unity in mind.
“Through the trauma of what is going on, I just decided it was a time to create something that all women can wear,” Jones said. “It was just to be a connector.”
Moving forward, Jones said she’s working to build generational wealth for her family and community.