They were best friends in high school, they are godparents to each other’s children, and now they are co-founders of The Black Bread Company, which is said to be the first-ever Black-owned bread company in the country.
"It was just something we felt we had to do," said Black Bread Company co-founder Jamel Lewis.
The idea grew out of frustration directly related to the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis Police Officer last May.
Mark Edmond was looking to specifically "buy Black," and during a trip to the grocery store, bread was the first thing on his list.
"The first thing I started doing was googling all the different brands to try to figure out if it's Black-owned or at least if it had a Black executive, which I couldn’t find any," Edmond said.
So he immediately talked with Lewis and Charles Alexander, and everyone was on board.
"We didn’t want to just get on Instagram and Facebook and just start voicing our opinion, so instead we got busy," Edmond said.
After extensive research, the three kicked off their business Feb. 1, in time to celebrate Black History Month. Right now, the majority of business is online, but The Dill Pickle in Logan Square and Sugar Beets in Oak Park, also sell their bread.
"Just to be accepted here at Dill Pickle has been an amazing experience so far, said co-owner Lewis. "It's been about a month, the bread is flying off the shelves, literally we are so appreciative to be in the Logan Square community."
They are hoping more stores will carry their bread products.
"The sliced bread industry started in the 1920s," Alexander said. "We are now in 2021 almost 100 years later, and we are just now being represented in this 100-year industry as African American."