Grand Rapids has a number of media outlets that keep the people “woke”. I recently had the pleasure of attending a Entrepreneurial Gold live podcast. Entrepreneurial Gold gives the community an opportunity to network and promote its businesses and initiatives. This was an elegant event held at Brush Studios downtown. I was there to educate the attendees about #naturalhairfostercare. It was a great opportunity to network and find out some cool things that is going in Grand Rapids. The community truly understood the need for #naturalhairfostercare and expressed an interest in supporting the movement.
There were two other vendor tables at the event. One promoted the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. The Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce provides support to people who want to open businesses in Grand Rapids. Its services include business developmental services and networking opportunities. Programs like ELEVATE, Institute for Healing Racism, Black Women Connect GR and several leadership initiatives ensure entrepreneurs in minority communities have the information and resources necessary to be successful. The other table featured an Paparazzi independent jewelry consultant. I failed to get her contact information but she had a lot of cut bling for $5. I’ll update this post when I get her info. (Hey Sistah Queen. Hit me up with your website.)
Complementary food was provided by Irie Kitchen, a new Jamaican restaurant in Gaines Township. Irie Kitchen is located on Kalamazoo SE between 60th SE and 68th SE, south of Market Place Plaza. I’m assuming the food was good because most of it was gone by time I wanted to fix a plate. I was able to enjoy two of the mini red velvet cheese cake though. It’s my favorite cake and I was very pleased with what I tasted. I will have to make a point to drop by there soon to get full exposure of their menu.
The podcast featured India Manns local advocate and Judge Christina Elmore, a 61st District judge who shared nuggets of inspiration to participants. India is a community advocate involved with approximately 20 community organization. She is on a mission to create equities through advocacy and volunteerism. Judge Elmore serves on the 16th District bench; however, she is currently getting signatures on a petition so she can run for one of two seats that will soon be available on the 17th Circuit Court. If you want to support her, check out her website here.
The venue was on point. Brush Studio is an absolutely beautiful venue and perfect for this event. The high ceilings and original hardwood floors are gorgeous. The splashes of paint created by artists creating masterpieces gave it character as well as creditability. The hostesses were cheerful and accommodating. Linda Otterbridge of Hook A Sista Up said, “We’re have to hold some events here.” I can’t wait. If you want to check it out, it’s at 50 Louis St NW (but the entrance is on Ionia next to the credit union).
Molly sang her newly released single accompanied by her husband on the guitar. The dual entertained us a little before the podcast but she debuted her new single. Molly was absolutely adorable and the camera loved her. She was very friendly and down to earth. She floated throughout the room sharing her excitement about her new single and learning about what other attendees were working on. Please go to her page, follow her, buy her music, and go to her gigs.
The vibe was positive with a live DJ. Everyone enjoyed breaking bread. Everyone was clearly open to networking and creating a positive atmosphere. There were discussions of ideas, projects and opportunities throughout the room. People came to meet other like-minded individuals. People came with a spirit of collaboration and unity.
There were so many points of inspiration. India Mann spoke passionately about the need for black people to volunteer in the community and utilize the beautiful “spaces” the city has to offer. She acknowledged the stressors of being “the first” in environments where diversity is needed. However, she pointed out that the presence of one African-American (or Latino, Asian, etc.) makes others feel comfortable coming. In essence, we have to be willing to participate just as others have to be willing to include us. She had the crowd electrified. I look forward to working with her in the future.
Some of the discussion focused on inequities in the community and observations of mistrust within the African-American community. There was a strong desire to address the economic, racial and gender divides. There was some disappointment expressed that Grand Rapids is not as progressive as large metropolitan areas like Detroit, Atlanta, New Orleans, and other cities with a large population of black people. I’m from Battle Creek, MI where I wish we could get a room of black people together to discuss building businesses. I think Grand Rapids is where it needs to be right now. Events like this will move the community forward. Now that it’s been identified, the individual in attendance now have the responsibility to ensure it. These gorgeous pictures that I took are proof of that. Check out what black excellence look like. Make sure you check out the next Entrepreneurial Gold Podcast. In the meantime, enjoy the slide show below.