Last month, 100 local businesses owned by people of color in King and Pierce Counties found out that they would receive a total of $1 million in grants through the Comcast RISE program, and recipients like Mediums Collective are very thankful.
Brothers Roger and Cesar Maldonado launched their Mediums Collective streetwear brand in 2014 with hoodies and t-shirts initially, as they expanded into different textiles and the higher-end products seen today. The duo has worked tirelessly to get their brand out there and extend market reach, selling both online, at pop-up events, and in area stores like the Locals in Tacoma.
Relying on major trade shows, seasonal events, and pop-ups to market their clothing meant that when everything was shut down in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of those events were also canceled.
Both facing situations of unemployment, the impending aftermath was both a good thing and a curse. With additional time to focus on their business, the pair pivoted to strengthen their online presence and organize more of their own local events as restrictions lessened. One such local event was a mini-Cinco de Mayo festival in the spring that showcased over 50 Latinx businesses and 20 artists whose performances highlighted the community’s cultural diversity.
“It really was a blessing in disguise,” says Roger. “We had been spending a lot of time and money on traveling expenses to and from the major tradeshows and festivals. When COVID happened, we redirected our energy into creating community events that not only promoted our brand but gave economic opportunities to other businesses.”
As many entrepreneurs, like the Maldonado’s, continue to struggle to find their footing and move to creative ways of survival, Comcast RISE and Comcast RISE Investment Fund set out to alleviate some of the burdens these businesses face — particularly those in BIPOC communities hit especially hard during the pandemic.
With Comcast extending RISE program initiatives to include female-owned businesses and coming to the aid of close to 6,700 companies across the country, many see it as a new beginning after the challenges faced in the past two years.
“As we continue to rebuild and emerge from the effects of the pandemic, small businesses will continue to be the backbone of our economy and we must take every opportunity to help them thrive,” said Senior Vice President, Digital and Customer Experience or Comcast Business, Teresa Ward-Maupin. “Looking forward, this expansion will enable Comcast RISE to further empower and strengthen even more small businesses that are the heart of our local communities across the country.”
Besides individual grant awards of $10,000, other small businesses will be on the receiving end of a host of technology and marketing tools provided by Comcast. Some of these include the production of TV commercials, consulting offered by Effectv, Comcast’s division of advertising sales, as well as internet, equipment, and cybersecurity services by Comcast Business, to name a few.
Like Comcast, Mediums Collective strives to build up the community around them wholeheartedly. “Our brand is really focused on entrepreneurship and the values behind creative passion,” says Roger. “Everything that we do, we try to, not only create opportunities for our business but for others, too.”
With Comcast’s recent investment, they plan to release new merchandise as they work on the production of a fashion show happening early next year and consider opening their own brick and mortar store down the road.
The fashion show will be a unique culmination of Mediums Collective and an assortment of brands representing the BIPOC community. Yet another example of the Maldonado’s intent to lift up others and reinvigorate their local economy.
Comcast couldn’t know just how important their role would become and continue to be for many small businesses struggling through rebuilding within the lingering unpredictability of the economy.
It’s not over yet, but to business owners like Roger and Cesar Maldonado, hopefully, it’s the beginning of many great things to come.