Photo by Renee RosensteelNisha Blackwell
Class of 2004
Nisha Blackwell, Homewood native and Westinghouse High School graduate is the Founder and CEO of Knotzland Bowties, a social enterprise that sources, rescues and repurposes discarded textiles into stylish bow ties intentionally made through providing flexible work to local and underrepresented populations. Knotzland's success is largely attributed to time spent working on professional development through utilization of the many creative hubs, accelerators and business incubators in the city. The first one being Ascender( formerly Thrill Mill) after graduating from that program Nisha 's hunger for business knowledge continued to grow, leading her to Urban Innovation, PowerLink's Power Pod, The Craft Business Accelerator and currently the creative industries Co-Create program. Each experience offering mentors, connections, and insight into how to grow a successful sustainable craft business. This has allowed her to shape a business that not only provides high quality wearables but also is an ecosystem for social good. Her community service experiences shaped through AmeriCorps, Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse, GTECH, and Strong Women Strong Girls reflect her leadership capabilities and passion for people.
Along with being an entrepreneur, Nisha is an outreach consultant and producer in residence for Bridgeway Capital’s Craft Business Accelerator and current member of Facebook's 2018 Small Business Council. Nisha has previously been recognized as the Pittsburgh Technology Council’s 2017 Creator of the Year, Style Week Pittsburgh’s 2016 Designer of the Year, and received a Homewood Community Council Engagement Award for 2016.
Advice to the anyone thinking about starting/ growing a business: Although I power through, in the beginning I struggled with being the only (Black Person, Woman, Creative, Maker,..ect..,) so my advice if you want to grow and do well in Pittsburgh is "Don't be afraid to be the the "only" at times, take that experience and turn it into something GREAT!"