Within the chronicled halls of the Los Angeles National History Museum, a modern success story is unfolding. As of June 2023, patrons from across the state and beyond now savor the delicious offerings of three Black women-owned businesses, little knowing they are partaking in the fruits of their inspiring entrepreneurial journeys. These achievements involved the efforts of these businesses – My Daddy’s Recipes, Kik N’ Juice, and Toss It Up Salad – and the instruments of change that saw to their progress.
Their stories began when Black Women Vend forged partnerships with these refreshing vendors and encouraged them to sign up for VSEDC’s Food Service University (FSU) program. This three-week intensive course, presented in partnership with the Los Angeles Economic and Workforce Development Department (EWDD) and the South Los Angeles BusinessSource Center, covers the critical aspects of running a successful food service business. It also offers additional one-on-one business consulting, ensuring business ventures are on the path to flourishing.
In parallel, another VSEDC client, South LA Café, had forged an innovative approach to secure larger contracts. They created a community-based business model that enabled them to procure sizable contracts from establishments like the National History Museum. They can then share these opportunities with other small businesses, functioning as subcontractors.
Their successful model opened the door for the Black-owned eatery Post & Beam to find its station within the museum. At the vendor’s grand opening, Aja Beard, a restaurant consultant with VSEDC and FSU facilitator, learned of opportunities for additional businesses to become contractors and suggested the three program graduates.
This triumphantly demonstrates the power of community and collaboration. “It creates opportunities for vendors who, without it, may never have realized such potential,” says Jenn Laurent, VSEDC Program Assistant and Founder of Black Women Vend.
The keys to this success were preparation and support. Black Women Vend ensured that each vendor had the necessary permits, insurance, and certifications to serve. When the opportunity to be featured in the museum was presented to them, they were ready. For black-owned small businesses, this level of exposure produces traffic that would have been difficult to achieve outside of the museum.
The foot traffic from the Greater Los Angeles area, and beyond, extends these businesses’ reach from their local neighborhoods. Moreover, their online presence opens opportunities to build an international client base. Not only are they selling a lot of products in bulk to the museum, but they’re also establishing the foundation to expand their profiles for the next contract opportunities.
These opportunities, carved from community collaboration and strategic planning, serve as a testament to the effectiveness of programs like FSU. These thriving businesses, fueled by community collaboration and strategic planning, illuminate the path for others to follow.