April 12, 2024

NEW BEDFORD — With $2,750 worth of prizes up for grabs, seven local businesses pitched their hearts out at the Pitch Black competition on Thursday, hosted by EforAll and BuyBlackNB.
“We have these young entrepreneurs that are trying to create generational wealth for themselves,” said Samia Walker, executive director of EforAll SouthCoast.
“The winners tonight are judged on who’s going to have the most impact from this experience — who is really going to be pushed forward, empowered, challenged to take the next step.”
The event, held outdoors in the garden of the The Rotch-Jones-Duff House & Garden Museum, featured selected entrepreneurs with an opportunity to showcase and sell their product or service to potential customers with a market-style setup during the event.
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The third place winner and “wildcard” pick of the night, was 0merta, a local New Bedford apparel company by high schooler James Burns. He received a prize of $500.
Burns is also part of Groundworks SouthCoast, a food and security nonprofit.
Young Messiah Clothing placed second, winning $750 toward their urbanwear line that  embodies its urban identity.
“The goal behind the brand is to mobilize greater Black and brown business loyalty as well as entrepreneurship, so marginalized American communities of color can become a self sufficient community,” said Max Tunis, co-founder, alongside his partner Daniel Osmani during their pitch.
The winner, who received $1,000, was Oshun’s Garden Botanicals Inc — traditional herbal remedies for modern day life.
“I am so thankful for this opportunity to just continue my family’s legacy and to walk in their footsteps to just continue to help folks with these herbal remedies,” said owner Victoria Watson, who was complimented also on her impressive pitch.
“I am overwhelmed. I am so thankful to be able to bring these products out to the stores because ahead of the flu season five stores here we come.”
Oshun’s offers products such as “Breathe Easy” menthol chest rub, shower steamers, respiratory health and “Arnica Pain Be Gone” salve.
Watson said she will be using the prize money to improve her displays and include QR codes for people to opt into their subscription services, as well as helping to play legal fees to help with contracts.
“This is not overnight. This is a lot of work,” the Barbados native and Stoughton resident added.
“But to any entrepreneur out there, don’t give up because if it’s in you, and you know that it can benefit other people then don’t give up — the world is just waiting for your gift.”
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The “Fan Favorite” $500 prize was awarded to Cape River Stays, a real estate-rental management business geared toward attracting more tourists to stay in the SouthCoast.
“We want to start creating marketing opportunities and experiences or vacation stays that will incentivize guests to not just stay, but spend money with local businesses,” said co-founder Daryl Lopes.
The judges included Shane Burgo, New Bedford City Councilor at Large; Scott Bernadeau, community director of E Forever; V Paul Deare, president and COO of EWorkstyle Institute and Kwamane Harris, executive director of the Brick House.
The night featured dinner from Izzy’s Restaurant food truck and a musical performance by Candida Rose, vocal artist of Golden Rose Music
“For young people, I think this is amazing, and that EforAll is doing it for free, and that there’s financial gifts along the way, as well as encouragement and networking is great,” said Paula Robinson-Deare, founder of Eworkstyle Institute and an EforAll SouthCoast alum.
“I think entrepreneurship is is a normal part of the way people have always done business… these kinds of things impact your whole life.”
The other businesses that pitched included Mindful Lotus Holistic Center, Secret City Music Group and Raw Hand LLC.
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Meanwhile, Walker said that EforAll is always in “recruitment mode” for mentors and volunteers.
“There’s a lot of different ways that people can engage with us on a volunteer level and really it’s about passing the torch,” Walker added.
For example, Raybryana Dasher of Kings Hair Care was among the audience as a mentor to help the entrepreneurs in attendance. 
“It’s given me a sense of pride to really be back in the city in New Bedford,” added Britney Geneto, the volunteer coordinator for BuyBlackNB.
“It’s pretty rewarding. My biggest passion for the city of New Bedford is to really see it economically grow and economically rebuild. 
“It’s a feeling that I think is really, really indescribable.”
Standard-Times staff writer Seth Chitwood can be reached at schitwood@s-t.com. Follow him on twitter: @ChitwoodReports. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Standard-Times today.


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