Now in its third year, CultureCon has quickly evolved into one of New York City’s most-anticipated events for creative millennials of color. The one-day experiential conference brings together hundreds of black and brown entrepreneurs, tastemakers, artists, and influencers for celebrity fireside chats, informative panels, and sponsor activations. This year, the conference will take place on Oct. 12 in Brooklyn, New York, and include A-list speakers such as Tracee Ellis Ross, Regina King, Keke Palmer, and Sanaa Lathan. In addition to top industry talent, it will be packed with workshop courses on finance, marketing, and collaboration. Plus, attendees will hear from a variety of black professionals and business experts such as John Henry, Angelina Darrisaw, Dia Simms, and Coltrane Curtis.
So, what’s the magic behind putting together an event of this caliber? Her name is Imani Ellis. The millennial corporate communications director founded the organization that produces the annual conference, The Creative Collective NYC (TheCCnyc), back in 2016. The organization was birthed out of her Harlem apartment after she invited a few friends over for tacos to share ideas in a safe space. The gatherings inside her living room expanded into monthly meet-ups with groups of 10 to 50 people and eventually outgrew her apartment. Today, TheCCnyc is a community-driven network that curates dozens of year-round events and partners with mega-brands like Nike, Live Nation, HBO, and SquareSpace.
In an email, Ellis told BLACK ENTERPRISE that CultureCon, the org’s marquee event, “was created to fill a void in the conference space. Instead of approaching one specific aspect of a person (like their career or their side hustle), CultureCon focuses on everything that makes young creatives thrive.”
Buzz about the conference has caught fire. “The first CultureCon kicked off in October 2017 at Samsung 837 in Meatpacking district with only 150 people,” she tells BE. Last year, there were 500 people just on the waiting list. This year, Ellis is expecting 2,000 attendees. She also added a week of programming leading up to the event. “We want attendees to walk away inspired and ready to walk in their purpose,” she says.
For others looking to curate live events of the like, Ellis’ advice is to start small. “I would suggest starting small and perfecting your format,” she says. “Bigger isn’t always better. Sometimes having the best of a very particular product [or] event type will serve you more than trying to mass-produce a just OK brunch mixer or happy hour. Put yourself in the shoes of your guests[s] and see every detail through their eyes. Once you’ve done that, be open to partnerships that are beneficial.”
Learn more about CultureCon here.
BLACK ENTERPRISE is a media partner of CultureCon 2019.