J.O. Malone, a Houstonian, film producer, and serial entrepreneur, was first established
as a game-changer in the independent film industry. A graduate of Prairie View A&M
University, Malone created his film company “J.O. Malone Studios” and in 2016, founded the National Black Film Festival with an initiative to build an enlightening platform for future filmmakers and actors.
In addition, In 2017, Malone founded BLCK Market which gave small black businesses
a place to sell their products and services to the community. Since then, BLCK Market
has grown to be the nation’s largest bi-monthly marketplace and has recently extended. its presence in its flagship retail store in Pearland Town Center.
Malone is a dynamic father, inspiring speaker and mentor, who delivers educational and
motivational speeches to film industry groups, colleges and universities, as well as
youth and community organizations nationwide. Malone resides in Houston with his wife, Riesse and their two sons. Check out his story below, SALUTE!
Take us back to your upbringing, what was it like growing up and what was your relationship like with your Father?
My parents were college educated, mom worked for IBM for 27 years. Dad worked for FedEx for more than 35 years. My father worked every day of his life. One thing he used to always say is ‘if a man don’t work, a man don’t eat” so when it comes to hard work, I’m not a stranger to it. My parents moved to Pearland in the late ’80s and I was one of the only black kids in the city, so I spent a lot of time just trying to navigate who I was, looking at my dad, 6’5 strong black man who went to work. That’s all I knew.
What impact did the relationship with your father have on your life?
My dad made a lot of mistakes when it comes to relationships and what he did in his life. He came from the hood, an impoverished neighborhood in Memphis so success coming from that background is working for FedEx. When you come from that struggle you just want stability, so he chose stability and played it safe. When it comes to relationships, my parents divorced when I was 13/ 14 years old. It affected me deeply and contributes to how I choose to treat women, my wife and how I build my family. One thing I learned was that a person can be there, but not present. He didn’t know how to communicate with his family. I wanted to be actively involved in my kids’ lives. I also decided that I’d be the one to take risks.
Tell us more about your entrepreneurial background, when did you know creating your own business(es) was the route you wanted to take?
I started my first business in 2010 called J.O. Malone Studios which is my video production business. Entrepreneurship has always been a part of who I am. Never could I see myself working for other people because my passion in the corporate world gets pushed to the back. The only place I fit and worked is as a business owner. So not only the creative but what makes the creative go. Making sure that BLCK Market supported the growth of businesses and their goals. I have a passion to support others. Black Americans going into business, going into being a business owner, gives us the clearest path to success and opportunity.
For those that don’t know, tell us more about the BLCK Market and what it’s all about?
BLCK Market, founded in 2017, was first established as an in-person marketplace in Houston, providing our community direct access to visit, shop and support black-owned brands. Guests can stop by every first Friday and second Saturday and enjoy good food and music while they shop. After the height of the pandemic, our brand had to pivot; in order to continue to provide shoppers with the same quality brands, we created blckmarket.com, so they could shop online and still enjoy the same premium products from their homes. Now, we have our first retail store, located in Pearland, with more than 25 brands to explore.
What do you feel is the importance of legacy and generational wealth in terms of creating businesses and raising your children?
Everything. They are both connected. I have two sons. The influence you have when you’re no longer there, the history of your lineage, it’s important to me. It’s not about you today but what they see and hear that can spark an impact for my grandkids and great-grandkids. What are we doing today to make sure we’re good but also to give the next generation of Malone men and women…it’s the leg up and the heads up. For example, if my mom is a millionaire, then the expectation is that I’m a multimillionaire and my kids should buy the Houston Rockets! We need to hear more stories about grandparents building duplexes and car dealerships, then we can get into creating things like tech. Opportunity…that’s what BLCK Market is about. It’s creating these opportunities for our family…my first business is my family. I get that right then I got BLCK Market. Generational wealth is a piece of that.
Who is J.O Malone as a father?
I can be a drill sergeant. I am aware of who I am and what my boys will be so I have to be strict. You know…“How does the world see you?” My boys are gonna be pretty big, I’m 6’4, my wife is 5’10. We love them unconditionally. I am a teacher of life, extremely loving and I want them to do well. Teaching them about purpose. Even at a small age, I teach them about balance. ‘If you don’t keep your balance you hurt yourself you, hurt other people.’ ‘If you have too much of anything it will kill you.’ The biggest thing is the balance of life to achieve anything.
Why is it important to show your sons the importance and power of black love?
Black love hasn’t always been presented in the correct way. We have a lot of history that we have to work against, so love in the black community is important. How I treat my wife in front of my kids is how they treat their wives in front of their kids. What we show to our boys is important. Without hesitation, they can love their wives like they know their dad did.
What advice would you give other Fathers running their businesses while also raising their children?
Let your kids see you work. Let them see you fail, let them see you win. You can’t hide anything because they will find out. If they can see it through you, they know what not to do through you. Also, finding time to separate business and family. Find time to connect with them. I take them to school every day. Find time to make sure they are safe. Make sure they know how to keep themselves safe when you’re not around. If the home isn’t taken care of it’s hard to be great in the world. Make sure you’re 100% before you leave the house. I get fueled by my family.
We have a segment called Dads In Delivery.. Take us back to the moment your first child was born, what was that like for you physically, mentally, and emotionally?
I’m a film producer so I filmed it. I was 23 years old. My son was born on April 1, 2012. Nurse’s name was April. It was about making sure my girlfriend, at the time, was safe and healthy and to make sure the baby was safe and healthy. I was still in college, 5th year, and I was trying to make sure I could provide for my family. My son was even at my college graduation! It was all about providing. We started with nothing and we built our way up to where we are today. Making sure I was making the right decisions to lead my family. Have real stability and consistency.
If you could write a short letter to your Father starting with “Dear Father”, what would you say?
Dear Father, I want you to be happy and free and I want you to know that your son and your grandsons will take it from here and the legacy will continue.
What’s next for you? What should we be on the lookout for?
BLCK Market is about consistency and providing the highest quality of the black American experience. With the opening of our new retail space in Pearland, along with managing our bi-monthly marketplace, that is our focus right now, to continue to support black-owned businesses and to provide a safe space for our community to gather and support one another.
Follow J.O – @j.o.malone
Follow BLCK Market – @shopblck