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June 20, 2023 | Shannon Smith

Sistas of Steel wins first-ever Crown Pitch Competition

The Knoxville area's first pitch competition specifically for Black entrepreneurs was the perfect way to celebrate Juneteenth.

What better way to celebrate Juneteenth than awarding funding to Black women-owned businesses?

That’s what happened in Knoxville Monday night at the first-ever Crown Pitch Competition, a funding competition for Black entrepreneurs in the Knoxville area hosted by The Women of Knoxville, Shora Foundation, and The Roots Collective at the Old City Performing Arts Center.

Four Black business owners and entrepreneurs pitched, and two walked away with cash.

The top winner was Sistas of Steel Gun Club, a group that builds confidence in women of color through teaching safety and firearms training. They won the $7,500 grand prize, chosen by judges April Hardin, Dr. Angelique Adams, and Kenneth Herring.

Sistas of Steel founder Adrienne Goines posted to Facebook thanking the organizers, judges, and competitors, adding “I’m forever grateful and it’s nothing but UP from here. Thank you to everyone that came out to support. When one Black Queen wins we all WIN.”

Goines and her co-founder DeAndra Clark are both certified U.S. Concealed Carry Association firearm instructors, certified Stop the Bleed instructors, and members of the National African American Gun Association. Goines explains the purpose behind Sistas of Steel on the group’s website: “I’ve been around firearms all of my life. It wasn’t until after my divorce that I found myself purchasing more firearms to protect me and my children. Now, as an empty Nester, I want other women to understand the importance of becoming responsible gun owners and becoming their own first responders. In today’s climate, it is very important to learn to operate a firearm safely and to understand the laws.”

DAI Wellness took home the second-place prize of $2,500. Founded by Deborah Ingram, DAI Wellness promotes healthy lifestyles through yoga, dance, and other exercise and meditative classes.

The Women of Knoxville posted on its Facebook page that it is “overjoyed with the outpour of love and support for the inaugural Crown Pitch 2023. Thank you to our sponsors Northwestern Mutual, Operation Hope, SCORE, River & Rail Theatre, and East TN Foundation.”

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