ORIGINS supports and celebrates Black makers, designers, artists, and craftspeople starting and sustaining creative businesses in the Pittsburgh area. It is a multifaceted effort driven by Bridgeway Capital’s Creative Business Accelerator to foster personal pathways for Black creatives to maximize business success, creative growth, and community impact. The initiative also advances Black voices and aesthetics in the regional arts and cultural economy and ecosystem.

A multifaceted approach to support Black creatives navigating complex challenges and pursuing transformative opportunities


Leverage best practices and lessons learned from a peer group of aspiring and entrepreneurial creatives.


Access stable and affordable space needed to start and sustain a professional and profitable creative career.


Engage with passionate experts to build strong and lasting foundations for a creative business.


Cultivate new clients that appreciate and support diverse voices in the arts and cultural ecosystem.


Create the planning and build the assets needed to turn a creative practice into a sustaining enterprise.


The Team

Nisha Blackwell

Program Coordinator & Business Coach

Since 2018, design, maker, and entrepreneur Nisha Blackwell powered Bridgeway Capital’s Creative Business Accelerator to channel its business development capabilities into business growth for Black artists, makers, designers, and craftspeople. To elevate other creatives, she leverages her own best practices and lessons learned in the evolution of Knotzland. Nisha’s creative business embodies the triple bottom line spirit. Her bow ties are made from reclaimed fabric and she creates economic empowerment opportunities through their production. For the ORIGINS Initiative, Nisha provides strategic guidance and works one-on-one to help regional Black creatives navigate the challenges and access the opportunities needed to create, sustain, and grow meaningful creative businesses.

Katie Johnson

Business Support & Impact Specialist

Katie Johnson is a craft practitioner turned craft advocate. She is a skilled ceramics artists with over 15 years experience in the arts and cultural ecosystem in Pittsburgh and beyond. After a successful run launching and growing Braddock Tiles, as well as other creativity-driven community programs around the region, she joined Creative Business Accelerator to help launch ORIGINS. Katie also coordinates and a range of other high-impact projects for the CBA including the Fallingwater + Monmade Design Residency and efforts to support creative businesses in the rural areas and mill towns of Southwestern Pennsylvania. For ORIGINS, she serves as a vital intermediary ensuring that its creatives access all of the resources offered by Bridgeway, and the many other small business development organizations and programs around the region.