My name is Blew Kind. I was born in Lorton Virginia as the youngest and only daughter among four sons. I was homeschooled as a child, and I grew up fixing my mother’s coffee in the morning. She taught me how to appreciate other’s stories, and listening to these verbal treasures brought me tears of laughter, struggle, and hope. My mother was an entrepreneur, running her own day care out of our house, and cleaning company. When I was 11 years old, my family was broken up by divorce, and then by cancer. This life transition changed my mindset on life, in which I now wake up each day with a smile, and am grateful for what I have to do.
When I was 16, I started working at a major coffee chain. I discovered that I had a love for the customers, I wanted to know their stories and empathize with them – but this was a threat to an “in and out” business. I moved to Philadelphia for college where I went for the “study of people”. My eyes were open to the degradation of women, African-American history, non-taxed big businesses profiting on the backs of underserved laborers, poor sustainable practices, violence and stress in low income areas, the effects of greed and slavery painted on beggars hands and closed public schools, and the widely concern of personal gain rather than the livelihood of those in need. I started to speak against oppression, joined the Circle of Hope, and I left college to open up a coffee shop that would be a space of mobilization, connection, and hope.
Being a black woman entrepreneur in Philadelphia, I try to exemplify laughter when struggles come knocking at my door again and again. We are all growing together, and we all need each other. I see that one aspect of my vocation is to provide a space of rest and bridge for neighbors in this wild world of expectations, poverty, racism, and struggle.
Franny Lou’s Porch is coffee shop and bakery offering a warm space engaging in community activism, cultural awareness, relational business practices, advocacy, and most importantly, a place of rest. Our desire is to be a place that is intentional in connecting to our neighbors and our products. It is a place to encourage those who want to be simple, healthy, and aware. We are named in honor of Frances Harper & Fannie Lou Hamer. Frances E.W. Harper was a 19th century bold abolitionist, poet, author, and lecturer speaking of investing in the black community and women’s rights. Fannie Lou Hamer was 20th century outspoken civil rights activist, foster parent, vocalist who was known to sing hope in the presence of injustice. As Franny Lou’s Porch, we strive to be the 21st Century voice for positive change against oppression, learning from the wisdom of elders.
In 2009, I toured Philadelphia with a travel espresso machine. After hosting over 100 events, we opened my first business, Leotah’s Place Coffeehouse. Leotah was my mother’s middle name. With the help of a great community, this warm spunky space was a respite for the neighborhood. I was forced to close after four years due to structural issues on the building, but was able to open a year and a half later as Franny Lou’s Porch.
At the moment we are taking steps to organize the inside and “Porch Standards” of the business, so we can be a sustainable place both for ourselves and for the neighborhood. Each Employee, aka “Tribe members,” have delegating roles to create a strong team. We are also led by a strong group of community advisers, aka Tribe Leaders.
Our hope is to grow deep with our neighbors and tribe members expand our mission with events, catering, and other vehicles of advocacy.
This loan will help me with much needed repairs and equipment, and have working capital in case any emergencies arise.
Specifically, our espresso machine broke and needs a new filtration system, this will be $2,700. We also have bills from PECO, our security deposit to the landlord, and need to pay invoices to our vendors.