Connecting with the most recent NAACP Powershift Grant Recipient, Creighton Davis

Last fall, The General returned for the fourth year as a sponsor of Black Entrepreneurs Day. The annual event, which aired on November 1, 2023, offered aspiring entrepreneurs the opportunity to listen and learn from a variety of impactful conversations and presentations. As part of the program, Ice T, Anthony Anderson, Cedric the Entertainer, and Rick Ross all shared learnings with Daymond John as entrepreneurs themselves, and a few were even interviewed for a “Fast Break” in The General Sound Studio. (Clips of those conversations can be found on The General’s Instagram!) 

In addition to the insightful interviews that took place, The General also had the honor of partnering with the NAACP to award our fourth annual $25,000 Powershift Grant to Creighton Davis, co-founder of Kinfolx – a black-owned coffee shop, wine bar and community activation space in downtown Oakland, California. 

We caught up with Creighton this past month to find out how the grant has impacted his business, as well as where his inspiration for the space came from. Check out the Q+A below, which was moderated by our very own 2022 NAACP Powershift Grant Recipient, Niani Tolbert.

Creighton Davis, co-founder of Kinfolx - a black-owned coffee shop, wine bar and community activation space in downtown Oakland, California.

Creighton Davis, co-founder of Kinfolx – a black-owned coffee shop, wine bar and community activation space in downtown Oakland, California.

NIANI: How does it feel to receive this year’s $25,000 NAACP Powershift Grant?

CREIGHTON: It feels great. We’ve been open for business for about a year now, so we’re still very new to the game in terms of this type of recognition, but also more importantly this type of support. It really means the world to me and our team. As many folks may or may not know, Oakland is going through a really tough time right now. This support is not just support for our business, but for the belief that the Oakland community is worth investing in and supporting.

NIANI: As a community builder, how will the $25,000 grant give you the break you need right now?

CREIGHTON: It really does have a huge impact on our business. Number one, making sure we can hire the right people. But also, we’re a coffee shop! We serve coffee, beer, wine, baked goods, food items – we have an amazing breakfast sandwich. So part of that $25,000 will be spent toward getting new equipment to serve coffee. We’re getting a new espresso machine that is going to make the making of coffee much more consistent, easier, and better for our customers. So at the end of the day, our goal was, “How can we streamline operations? How do we make things easier for our barista team? And how do we deliver a product that is really high quality for our community?” and that is how we really wanted to spend those funds.

NIANI: For those who may not be familiar with Kinfox, can you share a bit of background on your business?

CREIGHTON: Kinfolx was really born out of a void that’s existed in Oakland for some time. I used to go to a coffee shop on the corner of 20th and Telegraph prior to the pandemic, and right before the pandemic hit I was driving by and that coffee shop had closed. I drove by that shop for months after months… and it wasn’t the only business that closed during the pandemic. All across one of the main thoroughfares of downtown Oakland there were vacancies and closures, which really hollowed out downtown and continues to have a negative impact. Eventually, after a year and a half of driving by that vacant corner space I called the broker. 

That set into motion the intention of filling that space with community and the wonderful gifts that our community has to offer. We filled the space with art, plants, and beautiful design choices all curated and created by members of our Oakland community. When you walk in, the intention is for you to really exhale, feel relaxed and comfortable, but it is also to be able to see the representations of our community all around us.

NIANI: What was the inspiration behind Kinfolx, and what motivated you to call the broker and open its doors?

CREIGHTON: I’m actually a practicing attorney so I have no experience in coffee or wine, but I do a lot of work in the community in terms of bringing neighborhoods and residents together. I serve on an Oakland commission that is focused on building community at the ground level, and as I worked in the community I saw that there weren’t that many spaces where black and brown folks could walk in and feel welcome. That void is something that I imagined other people felt as well. So I connected with one of my friends, Ahmad – another co-founder and a third generation Oaklander – who said he felt the same exact way. We figured that there were others looking for a space where they could 1) be themselves, 2) see others that look like us, 3) see art on the wall that represents our community, and 4) feel comfortable enough in that space to connect. It really was born out of a desire to create space, with an understanding that there aren’t many spaces like it. 

NIANI: As a successful business owner, you’re already an inspiration to so many in your community. Can you share who your inspiration is?

CREIGHTON: Flipping it right back, it’s my community. I walk into Kinfolx and there are so many talented people there on a day to day basis. We have artists, creatives, photographers, lawyers, doctors, finance professionals, writers – it really runs the gamut. There are so many people that are doing interesting things in the community and we want to be able to showcase that. One of the things we’re planning to do this year is something called “Teach Ins,” where members of the community come in and teach on whatever it is they know, their subject matter or passion. There is so much to learn from the folks around us, we just have to give folks a platform to share their learning.