Selling teens on the need to read
She loved cheerleading, but Journi Prewitt knew there was something more important she had to do. At age 16, she quit one of her favorite extracurriculars in order to save up money for a new philanthropic business venture. Prewitt, at the time a student at Power Center Academy High School, was unsatisfied with the depiction of African Americans in many forms of mainstream American media. Youngsters are particularly impressionable to what they see on TV and read in books, so she decided to take matters into her own hands.
 
Studies have shown there is a correlation between how youth and race are depicted in the media, and self esteem. Prewitt’s company, Black Butterfly Beautiful, targets that issue. “I was inspired to create Black Butterfly Beautiful for two reasons,” she says. “To help black youth fall in love with reading, and with themselves. Working with black children, I noticed many of them didn’t really enjoy reading, and as a black girl I’ve noticed the lack of black representation, so I came up with Black Butterfly Beautiful to provide a solution to these problems by assisting in building both literacy and self esteem among youth of color.”
 
Black Butterfly Beautiful is a monthly subscription service. Sign up, and you’ll receive a themed box curated to different age groups each month. There are three varieties of boxes available: ButterflyBABY (ages 4-7), ButterflyTWEEN (ages 8-12), and ButterflyTEEN (ages 13-19). The packages contain a variety of goods from black-owned businesses. Each package has at least one book, with the protagonist as a person of color. Other selections might be trendy toys, accessories, sometimes even snacks. For boys, Black Butterfly Beautiful also offers a monthly Black Dragonfly box, which also comes with a book and sports, video game, tech, or other themed products.
 
Settling on the butterfly theme was easy. Prewitt says, “it has come to define the many expressions of the feminine black consciousness … and is a perfect articulation of the exquisite beauty of nature.” Her message of promoting African American culture and encouraging kids to read is gaining traction, with the enterprise finding success and drawing attention from many notable outlets, including Huffington Post, The Root, and Forbes.
 
Black Butterfly Beautiful already has several hundred subscribers. Going forward, Prewitt hopes to include more subscription options. The Black Firefly service is a more gender neutral box option, where Prewitt would also like to implement a box aimed at college students. Changing themes each month helps to keep the idea fresh, with previous boxes ranging from “Black to School,” to “OK Ladies, Let’s Get in Formation,” to “Superheroes.” Upcoming themes include “Smart and Sassy” and “Brains and Brawn.” 
 
For more information on Black Butterfly Beautiful and Journi Prewitt, go here.
 
—By Samuel X. Cicci
What’s going on
– AOC and Aliancys have merged to form “AOC Aliancys,” a leading global supplier of polyester and vinyl ester resins, gel coats, and other materials used in the composites industry. The merger follows CVC Capital Partners’ Fund VI (CVC) announced intent to acquire The Alpha Corporation, AOC’s parent company, on May 2nd, a transaction that completed on August 1st. Aliancys has been a part of CVC’s portfolio since 2015.
 
– The Peabody has been nominated for “Best Historic Hotel” in USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice Awards. The Peabody is the only hotel in Tennessee to be nominated. Voting ends at 11 a.m. on Monday, August 6. Go here for more info.
 
– Gold Strike Casino Resort in Tunica accepted its first legal sports wagers Wednesday of this week under new Mississippi regulations allowing licensed casinos to conduct sports book operations. Also in on the action was another MGM Resorts International facility, Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi. 
 
 
News from other sources
 
– Scan Interiors, selling contemporary furniture for 30 years, is going out of business. Read the Memphis Daily News story here.
– The Memphis Business Journal’s Meagan Nichols reports that Kroger’s Farmington store will do nearly $500,000 in renovations to make way for a new food brand. Read about it here.
The Hot Sheet
 
Inside Memphis Magazine has long been running the Hot Sheet feature of promotions and achievements in local business. We’re now running Hot Sheet in our weekly Tip Sheet email blast to keep the info more current. 
 
– The Memphis Flyer won three writing awards at the recent national Association of Alternative NewsMedia convention in San Diego. The Flyer competes in the “large paper” category (circulation 40,000 and over) against major city newsweeklies from around the country for recognition of the best in alternative journalism. Flyer winners were: Bruce VanWyngarden, first place in the Column category for his weekly Letter From the Editor; Chris McCoy, second place in Arts Criticism for his movie reviews; Chris Davis, third place in Beat Reporting for his story, “The Art of the Deal: What Happened at MCA?”
 
– The Greater Memphis Chamber appointed Eric Miller as senior vice president of economic development. Miller is coming from Norfork, Virginia, where he served as executive vice president of business development for Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance. Richard Smith, president and CEO of FedEx Trade Networks and chairman of the board for the Greater Memphis Chamber, says “Miller has extensive experience successfully targeting the types of companies and industries that make sense based upon a community’s unique civic assets.”
 
The Chamber also named David McKinney as senior vice president of public policy. He will lead the organization’s increased emphasis on improving economic prosperity and growth in the community by bringing the public policy infrastructure in alignment with state and local policy endeavors.
 
– The Seam has added Suzanne Lowery as director of finance and Tim Thornton as senior software engineer. Also, Jason Sutton was promoted to manager of software engineering.
 
– inferno expanded its staff with three additions: Derikah Scott (junior art director), Naø Lewandowski (PR account executive), and Chris Duncan (senior account executive).
 
– Two Southern College of Optometry leaders, Dr. William E. Cochran and Dr. J. Bart Campbell, each received nationally recognized awards. Cochran was the recipient of the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry, while Campbell received the President’s Award for Distinguished Service to Optometry from the American Optometric Association.
 
– Agape Child & Family Services received grants from the American Snuff Company and Bank of America to continue assisting families in danger of homelessness.
 

Power Player
 
Inside Memphis Business magazine publishes a list of local Power Players every year. These are the movers and shakers in more than 30 categories who get things done in their respective fields. IMB’s April issue has the complete list. We also publish individual categories in other issues throughout the year, and we feature individual Power Players in our weekly Tip Sheet.
 
Today’s Power Player: 
Dr. Kennard Brown, executive vice chancellor and COO, UTHSC. Assistant professor, College of Pharmacy; Department of Surgery, College of Medicine; chief administrative officer, UTHSC campus. Ph.D., Health Science Administration, UTHSC; J.D., U of M. Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives. Previous director, Office of Equity and Diversity, Office of Employee Relations, Center on Health Disparities.
 
For the complete list of Inside Memphis Business Power Players, go here.