A Marketplace with a Taste of Soul

Six VSEDC Program Alumni Bring Their Businesses to Taste of Soul  

If you live in South Los Angeles, chances are you know about Taste of Soul. Taste of Soul is LA’s largest free festival, occurring right on Crenshaw Boulevard every October. The festival features all things soulful, from international wares to local eats, all reflecting a Black cultural experience.  

This year, Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation showed up with our very own marketplace, a $5,000 project generously furnished by the BusinessSource Centers in Watts and South Los Angeles. VSEDC invited six of our partner companies, with wares ranging from pre-packaged food to apparel, to join our marketplace as vendors.  

Soulfood and Apparel from VSEDC Vendors 

Each of our six vendors were either participants in our CEO series or our LevelUp series, with one vendor, Lura’s Kitchen, being a former VSEDC pitch competition grand prize winner.  

Our LevelUp series was created by renowned business psychologist, Dr. Karen Semien McBridge, to help small business owners shift the way they think about their businesses and make room for growth and sustainability.  

Our CEO series, created by Senior Business Coach and participant in Taste of Soul, Jonathan Kinnard, is designed for startups and businesses operating within their first two years. The series prepares entrepreneurs to operate and scale their businesses successfully in Los Angeles. 

It was a treat to partner once again with program alumni-turned-vendors at Taste of Soul. Here’s more about the small businesses behind the VSEDC Taste of Soul marketplace: 

Coffee Del Mundo – Jonathan Kinnard, founder of Coffee Del Mundo, cites his passion for coffee farmers and good coffee as the motivation to bring the business to South LA. Kinnard has hired from the community and received funding from VSEDC to promote his business. Additionally, Kinnard’s passion for teaching business led him to become a Senior Business Consultant for VSEDC. Follow Coffee del Mundo on Instagram

Masterminds Connect – Los Angeles-based artist Marco Bernard began Masterminds Connect during the pandemic. Bernard launched the Masterminds Connect project through re-imagining familiar childhood stories, such as The Lion King, re-designing the characters as humanlike individuals. Masterminds Connect caught the attention of outlets such as Buzzfeed, and Bernard has since expanded his brand to include apparel and printed goods. Follow Masterminds Connect on Instagram and TikTok.  

Ms. Lottie’s Cornbread Mix – Lottie Cleveland began Ms. Lottie’s Cornbread Mix as a home-based small business five years ago. Ms. Lottie’s cornbread recipe makes a quick cornbread with a unique flavor that meet the desired taste of a grandmothers’ home. Cleveland’s mission is to provide any cook the ability to prepare cornbread that offers that homemade taste, texture and look of home. Find Ms. Lottie’s on Facebook and YouTube. 

My Daddy’s Recipes – Nekia Hattley, or Chef Kia for short, took inspiration from her father, a southern chef and restaurant owner. Chef Kia’s approach? “To prepare my daddy’s recipes and make them vegan, gluten free or just a little better for you while keeping the flavor that causes a party on your tongue.” My Daddy’s Recipes offers a menu of delicious treats like cobblers and cheesecakes, with love and health-consciousness baked in. Follow My Daddy’s Recipes on Instagram.  

Jai Got Soul – Jessica McConico, the founder of Jai Got Soul, LLC, feels strongly about spreading positive messages and building sustainable financial legacies for the South LA community. McConico’s multimedia messaging ranges from self-designed apparel to hosting her own podcast that uplifts community voices.  A client of Vermont Slauson, McConico also successfully crowdfunded $10,000 for Jai Got Soul. Follow Jai Got Soul on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube

Lura’s Kitchen – When Lura Ball’s husband passed, Ball had to reinvent herself. With a background in marketing and a passion for baking, Lura’s Kitchen was born. Lura’s Kitchen makes high-end cookie mixes and tea cakes. Ball has been a longtime partner and friend of VSEDC, dating back to her days at USC where she was a student of Marva Smith Battle Bay. Today, Lura Ball is funded by VSEDC and is a recipient of the ABC Fund by LISC. Follow Lura’s Kitchen on Instagram and Facebook.  

A Taste of Soul, a Family Reunion, and an Entrepreneurship Opportunity 

Jonathan Kinnard, Founder of Coffee del Mundo and VSEDC Senior Business Coach, when reflecting upon Taste of Soul, says that, “It felt like a family reunion after the pandemic…the South LA entrepreneurship ecosystem is alive and well. There are so many new business owners and entrepreneurs trying to generate revenue, from every background and age group, that the work VSEDC does is more important than ever. Why not turn your passion into a revenue stream?” 

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