OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — August is National Black Business Month and Omaha has a lot of successful Black-owned businesses with incredible stories. One example is Still Poppin Gourmet Popcorn in North Omaha.
Many business owners have an "aha moment" when they realize their path and their dreams. Orlanda Whitfield's moment began when she heard the word no.
"We used to have movie nights as a family and we would always have popcorn,” says owner Orlanda Whitfield. “One day I said to my grandmother, ‘Can you buy me some caramel popcorn,’ and she said, ‘No, just go in there and make it.’"
She listened to her grandmother and has been making popcorn ever since.
Whitfield created Still Poppin Gourmet Popcorn in 2016. As a small business owner, she wears all the hats. Cook, saleswoman and, most importantly, mom.
"I like to be around my family because it's nothing but positive energy,” says Orlanda’s daughter Tylona.
Tylona and son Fonta help run the business and make it a real family affair. Orlanda had her children when she was young and wanted to change the narrative of young mothers.
"A lot of times people count out young people who have kids,” she says. “They count us out, they feel like we can't accomplish things, but that wasn't me."
After winning multiple business competitions and getting multiple grants, Orlanda opened up her small shop in North Omaha. As soon as she opened, she says the support was non-stop.
"I will say a lot of my business comes from Black women and us supporting each other,” she says.
So Orlanda gives back by holding fundraisers in North Omaha, where students and athletes can sell the popcorn and keep 50 percent of the profits and use the money for class trips, uniforms or tournaments.
"We can have businesses, own businesses, have successful businesses, have thriving businesses and it's important to give back to our community," she says.
Orlanda hopes to inspire other Black business-owners to take risks and work hard. Sometimes, all it takes to get the ball rolling is hearing the word no.
Orlanda's shop recently re-opened after some COVID-19 setbacks and features over 50 popcorn flavors, including a special Omaha mix.