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Cocoapreneur PGH Black Business Relief Fund | Grantee Q&A with Kin of Duncan

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The mission of Cocoapreneur is to foster an environment of economic prosperity in order to ensure more sustainable neighborhoods for the historically African American communities and neighborhoods around Pittsburgh, PA. Through support to businesses via advertising, marketing and consulting, Cocoapreneur aims to normalize the idea of entrepreneurship and make becoming a business owner a more feasible and attainable goal for African Americans in the greater Pittsburgh area.

In response to COVID-19 and increased discussion around race-based disparities in America, Cocoapreneur PGH created the Cocoapreneur Collaborative as another pathway to fulfilling their mission. Aiming to address more social needs of the Black business community, the fund is meant to provide relief and aid to Black owned businesses and Black initiatives that aren’t able to get funding and support through other means. It was initially created to assist businesses that were vandalized after the George Floyd protests in Pittsburgh in May 2020, but has extended its reach to help others facing challenges because of COVID-19, as well. To date, the fund has provided over $50,000 to businesses in the Pittsburgh area!

As part of Cocoapreneur’s 2020 Healthy Neighborhood Awardee highlight week, we will be spotlighting some of the amazing businesses that received mini grants from Cocoapreneur for everything from new equipment, to salaries, to scholarships for youth programs!

Here’s a Q&A with Jazmiere Bates, owner of Kin of Duncan.

Tell us about yourself and about your business.

“Kin of Duncan is a youth entrepreneur creative brand owned by 14 year old Jazmiere Bates. I make matching T-shirts for pets and their favorite human, paw balm, pet bandannas, and masks. The 2nd anniversary for Kin of Duncan was just a few days ago. we are located in the Gallery on Penn in East Liberty, which is closed due to COVID.”

What inspired you to start your business?

“When I was 8 years old, I attended a few sewing camps and began sewing old shirts and patches for my small dog Soxs to match my shirts. During walks in the neighborhood, other pet owners expressed interest so I decided to make items for other pet owners.”

How did COVID-19 affect your business?

“COVID-19 completely canceled all of our vendor shows. It canceled our manufacture trade shows that we were supposed to attend. I had to pivot my business from dog clothes to mask-making. The first week of the governor mask requirement, I had 200 mask requests from families in Pittsburgh.”

What does receiving Cocoapreneur’s mini grant mean to you?

“The Cocoapreneur grant has helped me buy inventory up front so that I can make various items at once versus waiting on incoming sales. Buying bulk fabric will allow me to prepare for Small Business Saturday and the holiday season! We have received 3 contracts, and it has allowed us to buy needed materials to fulfill the contracts all at once.  It also helped me pay for vendor show fees that will be displaying my brand during the holiday season.”

Kin of Duncan can be found via Facebook at Kin of Duncan and Instagram at Kin_of_duncan. Matching masks, doggie bandannas, and scrunchies can be found at the Love, Pittsburgh Shops, and masks are located in the Andy Warhol Museum. Our website,, will be live on Small Businesses Saturday.

As our 2020 Market Confidence Awardee, Cocoapreneur PGH is truly creating healthy neighborhoods by supporting local, Black-owned businesses in all aspects of entrepreneurship. We are proud to recognize their work!

Follow the 2020 Healthy Neighborhoods Awardee Campaigns on all of our social media channels and by searching #2020HNAwards!

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