Built to Last: American Express and Elaine Welteroth Launch a 'Vodcast' to Celebrate Black-Owned Small Businesses

Slutty Vegan founder Pinky Cole, left, and Built to Last host Elaine Welteroth.
Slutty Vegan founder Pinky Cole, left, and Built to Last host Elaine Welteroth.
Image: American Express

Buying Black may be more on-trend than ever, but how do we celebrate and sustain Black businesses to ensure they’re built to last? A new video podcast series by American Express aims to do exactly that, Built to Last, hosted by New York Times bestselling author, journalist, producer, and former Editor-in-Chief of Teen Vogue Elaine Welteroth. The series, which launched Tuesday, aims to “dive into the stories, history and continued legacy of small businesses that shape American culture.” As American Express tells us, it’s an extension of its longstanding commitment to backing small and minority-owned businesses.

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Per a release provided to The Glow Up.

The podcast features in-depth interviews with Black-owned small business owners who are thriving despite the challenges they face. Each episode honors the trailblazing Black entrepreneurs that paved the way for the business leaders of today. These conversations uncover and celebrate the stories, past and present, of Black entrepreneurship in America—and seek to inspire listeners to support Black-owned small businesses in their communities.

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With over 88 million Americans tuning into podcasts in 2019 and small businesses being disproportionately affected by the pandemic, American Express is venturing into new media, and tapping into a broader audience, with a video podcast to highlight and honor the past and present stories of Black entrepreneurs while inspiring listeners to make the conscious choice to shop at Black-owned small businesses at a time when they need it most.

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“American Express has a long history of supporting small businesses and amplifying the importance shopping small has on local communities, which is more crucial now than ever before,” said Walter Frye, VP of Global Brand Engagement at American Express. “Given the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on Black-owned businesses, we are excited to launch ‘Built to Last’—a video podcast designed to showcase some of today’s most inspiring Black entrepreneurs and the vital role they play in our culture and communities.”

Illustration for article titled iBuilt to Last/i: American Express and Elaine Welteroth Launch a Vodcast to Celebrate Black-Owned Small Businesses
Image: American Express

The premiere episode features Pinky Cole, CEO and founder of Atlanta’s Slutty Vegan. The wildly successful plant-based burger chain which opened its third brick-and-mortar location (currently open for takeout only) last weekend in the Edgewood area of the city; a remarkable feat amid a pandemic that has proven devastating to both Black-owned businesses and the restaurant industry alike.

“It’s a true blessing to continue opening new locations when there are so many other small businesses whose doors have closed during the global pandemic,” said Cole in a statement provided to The Glow Up. “I want to empower those business owners to never give up on their dreams and continue to fight for what they love and what I know they too can accomplish.”

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Cole is following in the footsteps of another Southern food maven, the late New Orleans culinary legend Leah Chase, the restaurateur behind the iconic Dooky Chase Restaurant. Built to Last’s debut episode also pays homage to the famed destination, with a segment narrated by writer and photographer L. Kasimu Harris with illustrations by Reyna Noriega.

Illustration for article titled iBuilt to Last/i: American Express and Elaine Welteroth Launch a Vodcast to Celebrate Black-Owned Small Businesses
Illustration: Reyna Noriega
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It’s inspirational stories like Cole and Chase’s that American Express hopes to bring to the fore with Built to Last. New episodes will be available approximately weekly beginning October 27 through December 8, each featuring more in-depth interviews with Black-owned small business owners, including: Issa Rae and Hannah Diop of Sienna Naturals, Corianna and Brianna Dotson of Coco & Breezy, Anifa Mvuemba of Hanifa, Melissa Butler of The Lip Bar, and Shannon Maldonado of Yowie. “Together, they will explore the importance of Black-owned businesses to their respective communities, the issues they face while navigating a global pandemic, and what it means for a business to be ‘Built to Last,’” says American Express.

“It’s an honor to host this debut season of “Built to Last,” a vodcast from American Express that shines a light on Black entrepreneurs that are blazing new trails and finding innovative ways to thrive despite the unprecedented challenges of these times,” said Welteroth. “Their stories offer us all invaluable lessons in resilience and fortitude that inspire a new generation of entrepreneurship. We also dive deep into untold stories of Black business owners of the past that have defied the odds throughout history and laid vital blueprints for us to build on.”

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up, co-host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door...May I borrow some sugar?

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