Highlighting Pittsburgh’s small Black-owned businesses

Highlighting Pittsburgh’s small Black-owned businesses

Juliana Freeman and Jorie Meil

The Black Lives Matter movement, in tandem with the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic, have spurred a well-deserved push to support Black-owned businesses. Pittsburgh serves as a large community for Black-owned businesses. 

In May 2020 an Instagram page @blackowned.pgh began highlighting Black-owned businesses with the goal to “work toward economic equity for the black community,” as stated in its bio. The page allows users to learn about companies that provide a wide variety of products and services, including restaurants, clothing brands, artists, event planning and much more. 

It is important to support local Black-owned businesses not only to empower the Black community in Pittsburgh but also to help close the Black-white wealth gap in the U.S. During the pandemic, many businesses have been negatively affected, especially communities of color.

Here’s a sampling of businesses the Instagram account has already spotlighted. Chatham students can support these businesses by spreading the word about them, buying their products or even following their social media accounts. 


Fudge Farm: Fudge, milkshakes and sweet treats 

Fudge Farm is a family-owned business by Walt and Chatham University alum Molly Rainey. They serve a variety of fudge, milkshakes and other sweet treats. Currently, there are storefronts in the South Side and at the Waterfront, as well as a food truck. 

Fudge Farm had to close for three months at the beginning of the pandemic but was able to utilize delivery platforms and the food truck to continue operating. 

Since May, Fudge Farm has seen a spike in support. 

“We have gotten a lot of positive feedback when people realize we are a Black-owned business,” Rainedy said. “Both GrubHub and Yelp have been very helpful in promoting that and getting the word out at this point. The more the word gets out the more we see.”

Stop in and get Rainey’s favorite — the fathead milkshake and other treats.


Curated Flame: Glass creations

One-of-a-kind custom-made glass pieces designed by local Pittsburgh artists. Photo by Juliana Freeman.

Curated Flame is a unique glass store in Millvale. The owner, Anthony (Mo) Rabinovitz, had a creative vision for his shop, welcoming various local Pittsburgh artists to contribute to the pieces he sells. 

When you enter the store, you’ll find yourself immersed in colorful art. There are murals covering the walls and bright shiny glass objects lining the shelves. 

Rabinovitz started his business on Etsy, selling his own brand of products called “curated cones.”

“I ended up getting to the top 1% of Etsy sellers in the U.S., $60,000 in sales in my first year,” Rabinovitz said. “I did 3,800 orders by myself. I was burnt out from doing all those orders, periods of time I was packaging orders 12 hours a day.”

At this time, Rabinovitz was also working at a couple smoke shops and realized he could start a business himself. 

“I got really good at talking to people about CBD and glass and all the stuff that comes with having a shop like that, and I was at home packaging orders and I realized, why don’t I just do both on my own and start my own shop.” 

Curated Flame opened July 6, in the middle of the pandemic. 

“As for opening during COVID, people that live here tell me all the time about how I’m not getting to see what Millvale is really like. That there is way more foot traffic during non-COVID times. That could be true, but I’m not stressing about it because I haven’t experienced businesses pre-pandemic, so I don’t know what I’m missing out on,” Rabinovitz said. 

In case you’re looking to start your own brand or business, here’s Rabinovitz’s advice.

Upcycled and thrifted glass pieces displayed at Curated Flame. Photo by Juliana Freeman.

“Doesn’t matter if it’s a business like mine or a small business, a lot of people get bogged down in the details. Mark Cuban says don’t try to get everything to 100%. Do the 80%. Then worry about the other 20% later,” he said. “In the sense of getting the product out there first and foremost — just go for it, cause there’s also an audience and a market for everything and everyone. It’s just about finding them and reaching that targeted audience.

“No one would’ve thought I could start a whole business off of designer cones and here I am, so just go for what you want to do.” 




2sisters2sons: Authentic Jamaican cuisine

2sisters2sons is “The most authentic Jamaican cuisine in the city,” according to its Instagram page. This statement could be true, as the sweet smoky smell of grilled jerk chicken lingers outside the Sharpsburg restaurant. 

2sisters2sons is owned by Denise Josephs and Marlene Siddo, two sisters born in Kingston, Jamaica who came to the U.S. when they were teenagers. Their sons Michael (Mike) Brown and Kwasi Price also contribute to the business. 

They decided to open their business after catering events around Pittsburgh, including Jerk Chicken Fest in Highland Park. Many people raved about their food, especially the jerk chicken. 2sisters2sons opened in 2020.

It sells a variety of authentic Jamaican cuisine, from vegan meals with tofu to goat with curry, beef patties and more. The food never seems to disappoint with its fiery flavor.

“Since opening, we’ve had a pretty viral response. A lot of supporters came out of everywhere despite the pandemic and we are very thankful for them,” Brown said. 

2sisters2sons plans to expand and open up another location in Pittsburgh. 

“We were approached by a crowdfunding company and had a campaign to raise $50,000 to $70,000 to open up a second location, and the campaign was successful,” Brown said. 

Right now, 2sisters2sons is take-out only due to COVID-19, but it plans to have some dine-in seating in the future.  

Brown’s advice for students looking to start a business one day is to “do your research and as long as you have the majority of that done then just jump in,” he said. “You’re never really going to learn until you have a mentor or your own experiences, and you never know how your journey is going to be. Just give it a try because if you think of all the negatives, then there are also a bunch of things that could go right and you could succeed.”