Cocoapreneur PGH Black Business Relief Fund | Grantee Q&A with R&R Eyewear ExcellenceLeave a Comment
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 Richard Hatcher, owner of R&R Eyewear Excellence.
Tell us about yourself and about your business.
“My name is Richard Hatcher and I am the owner of R&R Eyewear Excellence located at 1298 Freeport Rd Pittsburgh, PA 15238. I have been in business for almost 8 years now. We are a small optometry practice that focus on spending 1 on 1 time with each patient. We are not about the total number of bodies that walk through the door; we are about the quality & accuracy of work we can provide to them. We are appointment only due to COVID-19, but that helps enhance the 1 on 1 concept we want to give. We do eye examinations, eyeglasses & contact lenses. OUr number is 412-406-8148.”
What inspired you to start your business?
“My family & friends inspired me in many ways. While attending Hampton University my father let me know of a black owner optometrist in the area. I was already majoring in biology so it was a field I could relate to and found a strong interest in. Dr. Lisa Wallace-Davis and her husband Derrick (from Beltzhoover) gave me my first job in the field. This was around the same time my grandmother was diagnosed with Glaucoma. Understanding the disease more at work gave me a personal attachment to wanting to help others’ eyesight. The rest was business from there.”
How did COVID-19 affect your business?
“COVID brought an immediate halt to my business. March- May are my busiest months due to health savings accounts ending, tax returns, etc. We were closed for a little over 2 months completely. Then business was slow once we were able to operate in stages. Bills did not stop. My location is in prime real estate, therefore paying for rent is essential. My landlord lowered the rent some, but not enough to justify $0 income.”
What does receiving Cocoapreneur’s mini grant mean to you?
“Cocoapreneur’s mini grant has meant the world to me. It provided a great relief during a tough time. The money she was able to provide helped pay for rent, as well as a crucial slit lamp upgrade in the exam room that was needed to help the doctor do his job even better! At the time, I was preparing myself to just buckle down and get through this the best way I could, but her grant has helped keep me on pace as a business. A wonderful organization ran by one of the most amazing people I have ever met. And I don’t just say that about anyone!”
You can learn more about R&R Eyewear Excellence at eyewearexcellence.com.