Playa Vista Magazine: Helping Black Businesses Bloom

Playa Vista Magazine: Helping Black Businesses Bloom

Playa Vista-based advertising agency Deutsch LA started a program called Blackness in Full Bloom in February 2020. The marketing program is offered to Black business owners to help further their companies. 

Ayn Howze, head of advocacy and communications at Deutsch LA, says that Blackness in Full Bloom was created to combat the “disparity in the wealth divide between white-owned businesses and Black-owned businesses. 

“We really wanted to make it a point to support both local businesses, but also Black business owners, right here in our city,” Howze says. 

The program is offered in two to three month-long sessions a year. After applying, businesses are grouped together into one of the three sessions so that each session is able to support similar business ventures. 

“We try to have either very consumer-facing brands or apparel-only brands,” Howze says. “Types of brands that don’t just learn from our team, but each other.”

Jimmishea O’Lee, a Los Angeles-based florist and owner of FlorADELE, was in the February 2022 session of Blackness in Full Bloom.

 “The program taught us so many different things about marketing, even to the extent of having me do a flower arrangement and showing me how I should photograph it,” O’Lee says. “That is important for social media, as the way one photographs their flowers really shows how much of their talent is going be purchased. The program included details such as explaining books about color and how that affects the marketing of your product … it taught so many different things.” 

Sessions also tackle things such as media and content production, branding, and design. There is no cost to participate in the program.  

“We definitely are in hopes of expanding it,” Howze says. “Our goal is to expand it even further.”

Currently, sessions take place after work hours, as the employees and participants are doing it outside of their scheduled work hours. 

“I think the greatest thing about it is that you actually have people that do marketing and do this for a living,” O’Lee says, emphasizing that the program continues to help participants beyond its completion. “It’s definitely something that didn’t just help us for the couple of weeks that we were a part of it. I never thought I would be an entrepreneur, but it’s been great.”

O’Lee’s interest in flowers grew during the pandemic when her access to fresh flower arrangements became limited.

“I took care of my mom before she passed away and I always would have flowers at the hospital and in the home,” she says. “And because of Covid there were no large events. As a result, no
one was doing flowers and that’s how
I got into doing it myself. I told all of
my friends and family about it, and I renovated my garage into a flower studio. A lot of us in the program are business owners who are also doing other things, but this is our true passion in life. We did this program while we had so many things kind of going on, and we found comfort in meeting and talking
to each other, and understanding how we got to the different places that we were at.”

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