The Red Door

Headshot of Reign Free, smiling The Red Door is a catering company located in Oakland, California. The Red Door prides itself on being environmentally-friendly and supporting local farmers, as well as partnering with minority-owned businesses and youth development organizations.  

The Red Door’s founder, Reign Free, booked her first catering gig for a friend at a salon. Reign hauled groceries to her walk-up apartment and took over her neighbors’ refrigerators and stoves—preparing a feast for 600 people. Soon, Reign was running The Red Door out of a co-operative kitchen in nearby Emeryville. She realized she needed to hire help, so she could focus on business operations. Yet when Reign applied for loans at traditional banks, they turned her down, despite her good credit history. 

Then, Reign found Opportunity Fund. Her initial loan covered working capital to hire an employee and purchase a van: “Last year, I finally sold that van and I cried. That loan changed my life. I have since employed hundreds of people, including five who went on to start their own businesses.”  

Since the shelter-in-place orders took hold in California, Reign has creatively pivoted her business to include pop-up restaurants. She also raised money to keep her employees at work and provide meals for neighbors experiencing food insecurity. Now, she’s hoping to turn her 5,000 square foot kitchen into a community co-op: “If I hadn’t had that support when I was starting out, I wouldn’t be able to do what I love and give back to the community.” 

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