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Black Founders Panel: Meet Black Entrepreneurs Bringing Change to St. Louis

Wednesday, February 22, 2023 @ 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Office of Technology Management, 4240 Duncan Ave, Suite 110 St. Louis, MO United States

Join us at Cortex for an opportunity to meet and connect with three Black entrepreneurs who are bringing change to the St. Louis region. This session will get every entrepreneur excited about how the ecosystem is being built to support Black founders. It will also give you a chance to understand what St. Louis needs to do to create a space to help Black founders succeed.

Meet the panel:

Gamuchirai Gandawa, Founder of YKG Crafts

Gamu is a fashion designer and founder of YKG crafts. She creates bespoke designs that are African couture, ready to wear and African Print jewelry. Gamu moved to the United States for a BSc. in Biochemistry at Truman State University and will forever be indebted to the African Students Association where she found her love for African print. She started YKG crafts in 2012 as an African print jewelry company.

Upon graduating from Truman, she moved to St. Louis Missouri to pursue a Biochemistry career and to pursue a MSc. in IT project management at Webster University. In her spare time, she self-taught the art of fashion design and in 2017 she was featured as an up-and-coming designer at St. Louis’ annual “Inspire” show. She has since been featured in numerous fashion shows throughout the Midwest and New York Fashion Week. Her diverse background mandates an application of skills fusing her current career as a technology consultant to scale YKG crafts contributing to an African inspired narrative.


J.P. Johnson, Director of Venture Café St. Louis

J.P. is Director of Venture Café St. Louis, one of eleven Cafés across the globe. Their mission is to “connect innovators to make things happen all over the world” by facilitating serendipitous collisions” of innovators and entrepreneurs through freely accessible high-impact programming and events” with the singular goal of improving the human condition through innovation.

Mr. Johnson is also the inaugural Chair of the Black Caucus for the State of Missouri’s Democratic Party. Their mission is “to promote the involvement of Blacks in the political process and the activities of the Democratic Party at the local, state, and national level” with an expressed purpose to “advocate for public policies which promote the needs of the Black community and the state at large” and “recognizes the need for inclusive representation throughout the Democratic Party, and seeks to advance political participation among Blacks throughout the State.”


Michelle Robinson, Founder of DEMIblue™ Clean and Vegan Nail Polish

Michelle has serviced the St. Louis healthcare system at Washington University as a Clinical Administrator for over 11 years, and served as a Proprietary Educator for 10 years. Her journey with the creation of DEMIblue Nail Polish was started as a desire to help her cancer-surviving mom through the creation of this personal nail polish brand. DEMIblue is now disrupting the nail care industry by not only educating women of the toxic chemicals found in many conventional brands and offering a healthier choice, but gaining retail placement as one of a few African American Female owned nail polish brands across the nation to do so.

Michelle has an M.B.A. in Business Administration, a MBA in Managerial Science, a B.A. in Organizational Development, is a Registered Medical Assistant and Licensed Manicurist. DEMIblue was awarded the 2020 Beauty Brand of the Year Award Winner and has earned over $100K business grants.


Join us this afternoon at Cortex! (4240 Duncan Ave, St. Louis 63110)




February 22
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Event Tags:


Office of Technology Management
4240 Duncan Ave, Suite 110
St. Louis, MO United States
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