As America continues to focus on the opportunity to amplify the stories of Black-owned and Black-founded fashion brands, many are finding additional ground for success and launching their own unique brands at a much higher rate.
A new, locally founded Black-owned fashion brand, Heritage Hill
, officially launched in March 2022, with the help of Co-op Cincy who, according to their website, “nurtures a resilient, integrated network of worker-owned businesses in Greater Cincinnati.” With this step, Heritage Hill joins a growing wave of area Black-owned entrepreneurs taking another rightful step to move the needle closer to equality in the entrepreneurial space.
Heritage Hill’s eye-catching apparel draws you in. It was designed to do that, capturing Black excellence while promoting the individual self.
Beginning his dream in Avondale in 2019, Heritage Hill’s founder Brandon Z. Hoff sought out to level the playing field in collegiate merchandising, narrowing his scope to the provision of culturally competent apparel solely to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, while also enabling students to make products for their schools.
"The goal was to unify the Black entrepreneurial community with the Black consumer," Brandon says.
Brandon learned about Co-op Cincy
from a friend and took part in the Business Legacy Fund program in 2021. He was looking for a way to "participate in capitalism without being predatory."
The co-operative business model has been used strategically in areas throughout the county to combine the best of small business ownership and corporation business model by capitalizing on local wealth creation while, at the same time, reflecting the local community’s interests. In addition, the co-operative model has incorporated governance, leaving room for the potential for longevity and overall success of the business at hand.
Many entrepreneurs who chose the co-operative business model credit its nod to equity and equality while being owned and operated by its employees. This also appealed to Brandon.
“I really want people who work in the company to have an opportunity to benefit from the company,” he says. “This has been very important for Black Americans, since there has been a history of disenfranchisement and discrimination. Black people have had to work together."
In 2012, Co-op Cincy Founders Kristen Barker, Ellen Vera, and Flequer Vera launched their first union co-op, Our Harvest food hub, and, currently, the co-op has three worker-owners, with two people interested in joining.
"Co-op Cincy has been very helpful," Brandon says. "They came with a ready-made template."