At Home With: Kyley Coleman, founder of Instagram account @BlackOwnedPGH | Community Profile | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

At Home With: Kyley Coleman, founder of Instagram account @BlackOwnedPGH

click to enlarge At Home With: Kyley Coleman, founder of Instagram account @BlackOwnedPGH
Photo: Kyley Coleman
Everybody is dealing with COVID-19 quarantines and restrictions in different ways. While there's no single right way to cope — social distancing and staying TF home aside — connecting with friends, family, and neighbors is a good place to start. You can contact your loved ones on your own, but you might also be curious how your favorite strangers in Pittsburgh are coping, so Pittsburgh City Paper is reaching out to artists, activists, workers, and makers to see how they're doing.

Today it’s Kyley Coleman, founder of Instagram account @BlackOwnedPGH.

What is your daily routine in quarantine like? What would you be doing on a typical quarantine Monday, for example?
Something I struggled with during quarantine is staying productive, which is why I like to have a routine. On a typical Monday, I usually wake up and set my intentions for the day, whether that's something I’d like to accomplish that day, what I want my purpose of my day to be, how I’ll incorporate self-care, etc. I find taking a moment to gather your thoughts in the morning is really helpful when navigating throughout my day.

Then, I usually sort through Black Owned PGH’s DMs/emails and try to respond to as many as I can. I try to also make 1 to 2 detailed posts a day to highlight a Black-owned business. Around noon, I like to either try a new recipe (courtesy of Pinterest lol) or treat myself to takeout from a local restaurant. My mother and I have been watching Netflix shows together, which is something I really enjoy since I’ve been away at college for a few months — I missed family time so much. Later in the day, I like to paint. It’s a new hobby of mine and a fun way to pass time by creating. In the evening, after dinner, I go for a night walk around my neighborhood and begin to conclude my day. I usually end the day with a warm shower, writing, some R&B music, and the late-night scrolling.

How were you spending your time before you started BlackOwnedPGH two months ago? How much of your time does the Instagram account take up now?
Before Black Owned PGH, all my time went to school. I had just finished up my online classes from my second semester and then I began my summer courses. After my classes, I had scored a job at Wholefoods working as an Amazon shopper where I worked quite often. What started as just a social media page grew into a resource for people, a space where people came to search for the products they needed before heading over to a name brand store.

I’d say Black Owned PGH takes up the most of my time out of everything. It’s not just me making a few posts for people anymore. There’s a lot of stuff that goes on behind the scenes. It’s collaborating with other organizations and Universities, Zoom meetings, planning COVID-friendly events, finding ways to fund local black businesses, finding sponsors or grants, planning scholarships to give out and so much more. I’m really excited for what Black Owned PGH has in store for the next few months. I can be a perfectionist sometimes, but that's only because I want everything to go as planned. Quarantine has really allowed time for me to strategically organize ways, outside of Instagram posts, to really help the Black entrepreneurs in Pittsburgh.

The account has grown quickly in a short amount of time. Do you have any plans for the future of BlackownedPGH?
As for the future of BlackOwnedPGH, I want it to be more than an Instagram. I want it to be an organization, a resource, a tool and an additional helping hand to Pittsburgh. The plan was to have a few vending events, but I prioritize COVID-safety regulations before anything. I’m not sure when I will be able to set up a big marketplace, [but] hopefully, I can put a small one together. In the meantime, I still want to do something virtually, though. Currently, I’ve been trying to work on a scholarship application that will be open to any black-owned business owner or soon-to-be black business owner in Pittsburgh.

With the pandemic taking a hit on financials, I figured there's someone who could use the boost with their current business or with starting their new business! Also, we are trying to create a website and an App which will make it easy to locate and sort through black-owned businesses. All of this couldn't have been possible without the donations we have received. We are open to any ideas or suggestions people have to offer, too!

What are some of your favorite Black-owned businesses in Pittsburgh? Have you discovered any new favorites while running the Instagram?
Quicc Candles is one of my favorite Black-owned businesses! A mother and her three sons make all-natural soy candles. I ordered a few to try and I have been obsessed. Each candle comes with a motivational message and they smell so good. One of my candles is the "Smoke Eliminator." It really helps when cooking in the kitchen!

Another one of my favorites is Happy Day Dessert Factory, it's a one-stop-shop for all your frozen sweet treats. It's also vegan friendly which is convenient for my vegan friends who tag along. My go-to is a Mango Ice Shake — it's mango water ice blended with vanilla custard to make a frozen drink.

Monetary Apparel has also caught my attention, they’re a clothing brand I’ve been loving recently. Their items are easy to pair with other clothes, making it easy to create your own style. Also, I love the connection of "monetary" and it being a Black business. It’s a clothing brand that I can directly relate to, given that one of my passions is monetary value for the Black community. The creator is also around my age, which is pretty dope to me.

I can't forget Showcase [BBQ] either! They have some of the best barbeque and soul food in Pittsburgh! There wasn't one time I was disappointed, and the workers are always super fast and efficient.

Honestly, I could go on and on about some of my favorite Black-businesses. I discover more every day! Most of the places I have eaten at or shopped from [are] Black-businesses, not only because I want to support, but because they really exceed my expectations making it an overall great experience.

What's an organization or charity you recommend donating to right now?
One place I recommend to donate is the Freedom Bail Fund, it’s a Venmo account (@PGH-Freedomfund) that is used as an emergency fund to assist protesters in Pittsburgh that were sent to jail — it’s extremely helpful especially because some of the people arrested are some of our most critical, peaceful-protest, youth leaders.

Also, it doesn't always have to be a large charity to help with black lives! I’m sure everyone knows someone Black who is in need of help. If you know someone is in need of something, send your $5 (or the amount you typically donate) to them directly. That is making urgent, direct change and helping Black lives right there.

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