Saturday, October 7, 2023. Duggal Greenhouse, Brooklyn, New York. — Saturday morning rain showers fell hard and heavy in the borough of Brooklyn; but it didn’t stop the main event from happening on Flushing Avenue. The annual cultural mecca for Black and Brown creatives, CultureCon, opened its lines to the likes of designers, brand influencers, culture benders, film talents, small business owners, media press outlets and many more. CultureCon, founded in 2019, is the fastest growing conference and brings together creatives and changemakers of color that aim to elevate their social and professional networks. These bountiful creatives intend to make a mark on the culture and within the communities they serve. In an effort to keep the focus “community centered” the conference sets its sights on celebrating prominent and innovative voices leading the way. It is their hope to inspire attendees to make notable impacts in their respective lanes, creative causes and to become an infectious impact on the world at large, as a BIPOC creative-thought leader.
This year’s CultureCon presented by Creative Collective included presenting partners: Max, Amex, Shea Moisture, Amazon PRIME, Freevee, Clinique, Google, Ciroc, Bullet Bourbon, Seedlip (Non Alcoholic Spirits), Patreon, Paramount (Content For Change), KickStarter, NBCUniversal,Spotify, Walmart, Tubi, School For Experiential Education in Design, The Startup Collection | Aveeno, Ben & Jerry’s, Coca Cola, LTK, Visible by Verizon, Dotdash Meredith, LCKR, Getty Images, Nielsen, TikTok, #CultureTags, NPR, and The Tillary Hotel- Brooklyn.
CultureCon encourages the creative collective body by honoring notable influencers, industry trailblazers, tastemakers and celebrities. The two day event featured panelists that discussed navigating and managing the pressures in the film and entertainment industries; obtaining careers in the growing field of tech and various degrees of corporate spaces. Other major topics offered insights on personal branding; overcoming the socio-economic factors that impede or inspire creativity; investments, crowdfunding for business and managing personal finances with financial gurus such as Financial Educator and New York Times Bestseller, Tiffany “the Budgetnista”; as well as discussions on maintaining self care while launching brands and building empires.
This year the 2023 CultureCon brought on a new facet to their ever growing pilgrimage, now including in its activation booths, a Creative Career Job Fair that allowed the attendees to meet one on one with recruiters from: Amazon Studios, Clinique, Max, NBCUniversal, Google, Walmart, Shea Moisture, and Kickstarter. Career hopefuls had the opportunities to provide or upload their digital resumes within the talent submission pool for further consideration and a chance to land their dream jobs.
Day one of the CultureCon event included the prolific and legendary American Actress and Writer, Issa Rae (Insecure, Rap Sh!t, The Photograph, The Lovebirds, Barbie) discussed her organization, ColorCreative, and how it cultivated its initiative, the Find Your People Program (FYPP), to mentor aspiring creatives of color through an intensive creative program.
Emmy-Award winning actor and rapper, Jharrel Jerome (When They See Us, Moonlight, Full Circle) sat down with podcast host and entrepreneur, Bimma Williams to share his creative process in music and his career journey. Sharing insights on “When They See Us” and providing more insight on his new album “I’m a Virgo”, inspired the crowd who remained engaged during his interview with Bima.
Actress and Film Producer, Marsai Martin (Blackish, Little, Fantasy Football), at the blossoming age of 18 years, took to the stage to share her newest venture as the global brand ambassador for Clinique and shared her creative evolution in beauty after partnering with the high-end beauty brand. Marsai spoke on her numerous achievements, multiple NAACP Image Awards, BET Awards, her historic role as the youngest executive producer in Hollywood, and founding her company Genius Entertainment.
This year’s CultureCon honoree, was the illustrious superstar, Teyana Taylor(A Thousand and One, Coming 2 America, The Breaks). The multihyphenate shared the stage in an intimate discussion with Emmy-Award winning journalist, Eric Jones, to discuss her incredible career and was rightfully presented with the CultureCon 2023 award by her mother and children. Teyana dazzled the crowd with her star studded aura. She handed out pearls of wisdom to the attendees; mentioning that her faith in God kept her strong in mind and spirit; and reminding us that the wait for our promise is actually our time of preparation for a great outcome and to learn to give ourselves flowers by being our own glade plugin; further exemplifying why she earned the right to be acclaimed as a cultural icon.
TV host and internet icon, Ziwe closed day one with a hilarious conversation alongside, DeAndre Brown AKA The Corporate Baddie. “Black Friend: Essays,” and her journey from being an intern with big dreams to a certified boss in the midst of her dream career.
On day one, I found myself richly inspired by panelist, Rap recording artist, Lola Brooke, who eagerly shared her love of performing on stage. The “Don’t Play With” lyricist lit up as she discussed that she knew in her heart she’d always wanted to perform; she said that before bed at night, she recalls falling asleep with music in her ears and dreaming that she was on stage. She expressed staying grounded and knowing that every decision that she’d made “fell on me” and that remaining centered was above all else, priority for her.
Day one of CultureCon lunch consisted of jollof rice ( a tomato and rice-based dish that is widely eaten across West and Central Africa) sweet plantains, gold coast slaw, grilled peri-peri chicken with a Bissap Hibiscus juice from African Chop House, and yes it was delicious. Other featured restaurants included the Crabby Shack, Ras Plant Based, OxKale, Cafe Rue Dix, File Gumbo Bar, Aunt Et uncles, Charles Pan Fried Chicken, the James Beard nominated chef and Harlem icon’s soul food for the soul pick, and Chef Kwame’s Patty Palace.
By the close of Day one’s festivities, my black mesh CultureCon tote was full to the brim with goodies. I collected my goodies from Clinique whose volumizing mascara and skin moisturizer has instantly become a new favorite in my makeup arsenal; magazine giveaways (and cookies) from the largest publisher in North America, Dotdash Meredith; free beverages from CocaCola and SmartWater; and an adorable “Black Men We Love You” men’s care kit from Shea Moisture.
Let me know, did you get your Culture on this weekend or are you planning to attend the Fourth Annual Culture Con? Let me know your thoughts and stay tuned for Day 2 of Culture Con!