Earn Your Leisure, Ally, and UnitedMasters Educate Creators of Color on Finance at SXSW

Ally, Earn Your Leisure (EYL), and UnitedMasters teamed up earlier this month to provide attendees at the annual South By Southwest Festival (SXSW) in Austin, TX, with a dose of financial empowerment.

Together, they presented Earn Your Masters, a two-day event filled with panel discussions and workshops about financial literacy for the next generation of creators. Held at The Belmont in downtown Austin, Earn Your Masters also included musical showcases featuring up-and-coming artists LaRussell, Liana Banks, $hyfromdatre, and BigXthaPlug.

Earn Your Masters
From L-R: Troy Millings, Jadakiss, LaRussell, Ryan Leslie, and Rashad Bilal (photo courtesy of Earn Your Leisure)

During the programming, Erica Hughes, the Senior Director of Multicultural Marketing at Ally, hosted a workshop to help independent artists build multifaceted relationships with major brands.

“So many young people want to create businesses and want to become entrepreneurs,” she told BLACK ENTERPRISE. Thus, she said it’s critical for creators to understand “what it takes to build relationships with other brands” especially in the wake of the growth of the creator economy, which is estimated to be worth more than $100 billion. It’s key “to position yourself for growth so that when you’re coming into the brand partnership, you know how to be ready, you know how to pitch yourself to a larger brand, you know what to ask for, and you know how to be prepared,” she said.

According to Hughes, partnering with Earn Your Leisure to empower creatives of color at SXSW is part of Ally’s mission to uplift underserved communities.

“We are deeply committed to driving growth and economic mobility in the Black community. And this event gave us the opportunity to talk about culture and finance and all the things that we know are important to helping the next generation of leaders,” she told BE.


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Ally announced a partnership with Earn Your Leisure and UnitedMasters in December 2021. Since then, the digital financial service company has sponsored a series of Earn Your Master events that took place last year, including during New York Fashion Week and Art Basel Miami Beach.

“When we got into a relationship with Troy and Rashad [the co-founders] of Earn Your Leisure and UnitedMasters, we wanted to create this platform where we could constantly bridge the gap between culture and finance. And this event is the life experience of that mission,” said Hughes.

Natalie Brown, the Senior Director of Corporate Citizenship at Ally, facilitated a workshop about understanding and building good credit – a topic she says is crucial for artists looking to start businesses and establish wealth.

“Your credit score is what helps you get loans. It helps you get cars and homes. It is your personal report card,” she told BE. “Most of us can’t afford to buy a home outright or buy cars outright. And so, you’re going have to get a loan and you can’t really do that without having good credit.”

Brown’s passion for the topic stems from the financial missteps she took due to a lack of financial education she received as an adolescent.

“I didn’t understand credit. I didn’t understand retirement,” she said. “I’ve been at the point where I was trying to buy a home and I didn’t have the right credit score to do so. I know what that felt like. I know what it feels like to not be able to get the kinds of things that you want because your credit score is not the greatest,” she said. “I thought it was important to share my personal journey, and the things that I’ve learned.”

Earn Your Leisure
Rashad Bilal and Ronne Brown (photo courtesy of Earn Your Leisure)

Brown also moderated a panel titled “Money Trees, Deep Roots,” featuring Ronne Brown, the founder of GirlCEO, and Chaucer Barnes, the Chief Marketing Officer of UnitedMasters.

“Authenticity is the new currency,” said Ronne Brown during the session. “You can make money just by being yourself.”

The co-founders of EYL, Troy Millings and Rashad Bilal, closed out the daytime programming with a keynote panel discussion on the business of music and entertainment, featuring rap veteran and entrepreneur, Jadakiss; music producer and entrepreneur, Ryan Leslie; and artist and financial empowerment advocate, LaRussell.

“Learn as much as you can about what you’re getting into,” Jadakiss said during the panel when asked about Kiss Cafe, a coffee business that he launched with his father and son in October.

“It’s like a marriage; anything you’re about to fall in love with or spend the rest of your life with, you should try and obtain as much knowledge as you can before you jump the broom or sign the contract.”

Watch the panel discussion hosted by Earn Your Leisure at SXSW, featuring Jadakiss, LaRussell, and Ryan Leslie below.