Episode 2 Black Owned in St. Louis

In St. Louis, we see the dynamic and forward-looking character of Black businesses. Three St. Louis dreamers enter new industries despite the doubts surrounding them.
Apr 18, 2024 — 2 min read



Reginald “Reo” Quarles is the owner of Teatopia in St. Louis. 

About this video series

Black Owned: Black Business Ownership in America

Black Owned: Black Business Ownership in America

Black Owned explores the history, experience, and voice of the Black entrepreneurial spirit and its essential contribution to the American economy.

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Brandin Vaughn: All fashion is black fashion. I think we are the creators of style. We are the epitome of trendsetting.

Justin Harris: Craft Beer is a predominantly white industry, but the marketing and the branding is very highly influenced by the hip hop culture.

Reginald “Reo” Quarles: There aren't many black males that own a tea shop. No one in my family's got their own, so I'm trying to create that.

Singer: Look how my brown skin soak pain. Love. Yeah. Look how my problems poor like rain. Look how my brown skin. So

Brandin Vaughn: To be black, you've already have some pullback. People are not going to be comfortable with you. I think one of the hardest things for me to accept is when I applied for the fashion incubator here, I was really hoping to get into that program and they denied me and I couldn't figure out for the world why they would deny me, but it just pushed me to go out and get my own and not wait for acceptance on the local fashion scene.

Reginald “Reo” Quarles: I remember telling my grandmother I was going to start my own business. She said, boy, you better keep that good job. You better not go out there and start no business. And my job was pretty decent. My background was in mental health, but I made the decision. I was done. Everything. I pretty much know I taught myself, or I learned from guys that have their own tea plantations in China. They would have these small tea rooms in New York. I learned a lot from them as well.

Justin Harris: I'd like to see more people of color in the industry for sure. I would just like to see more people come into it and experience what beer can be opposed to what they think it is. I genuinely feel like it's a beer for everybody.

Brandin Vaughn: You don't have to be filthy rich in order to have style. Any working person deserves a good quality wardrobe. That's why I'm here in the hood making custom clothes with my people.

Justin Harris: When I opened up the store, I was fresh into the industry. I, I'd never worked in craft beer. I never worked in the restaurant industry or bars. I'm a small engine mechanic by trade. We just kind of jumped in and carved our own lane.

Brandin Vaughn: We're still segregated, not even just here in St. Louis, but these problems have been going on since forever. But I'm here and I'm going strong and I'm reaching out to the community. I don't make clothes just for black people. I make clothes for the world.

Reginald “Reo” Quarles: It means a lot to be a black business owner mostly because being able to show some of the kids in the neighborhood that there's more than just option A or option B, you can create your own option C and you can create your own journey.

Justin Harris: If you're looking to do something or start something, go for it. That's the only way you're going to know if you can or not. Don't really focus too much on the negative. Don't really focus too much on what stipulations other people put on you. Just do it.


In this special-edition episode, we talk with rapper and entrepreneur Michael Render, more commonly known as Killer Mike, about how to encourage Black economic inclusion and entrepreneurship in a time of increased racial tension in the U.S.

More from this video series


Episode 1 Black Owned in Chicago

Apr 18, 2024 — 2 min read

Episode 3 Black Owned in Jackson

Apr 18, 2024 — 1 min read

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