We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley Walden Davis and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ashley, how did you come up with the idea for your business?
Unlock Creative was founded June 4, 2020, and took off on Juneteenth at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement’s uprisings against state violence and illegal killings of Black people. 2020 called for all of us to do our part and that’s what we did. I quit my newly committed position, an opportunity I had coveted as a Philanthropic Program Officer, and gathered up supporters, our first full-time employee, and consultants. We joined the movement by declaring that Blacks Lives are BEAUTIFUL and Black Lives MATTER, and so does Black Wealth. We chose to dedicate our talents to the Black Creative community to create and inspire change. In just 14 months we have made some magic and have begun to pull the levers to change hearts, minds, lives, and build wealth in our community. We have a special emphasis on initiatives that uplift Black Women. We have served 30 organizational consulting clients, coached 9 Black Women-Owned businesses, coached 10 individual artists, and graduated over 60 Black and Afro Latino women creatives through our Creative Flowers Professional Sistah Circle program.

Serica Weaver, Creative Flower Alumn

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Unlock Creative is a social enterprise whose mission is to nurture, grow, and sustain Black creative leadership in the creative and nonprofit sectors by enhancing organizations and building the capacity and know-how of current and future leaders in the field. We offer professional coaching, organizational development, grantmaking design, and administration, as well as high-quality project management in an ethical, values-based manner.

The problem that we are addressing is the disinvestment in Black creative leadership within institutions and the lack of investment in Black leaders and black-owned businesses within the creative sector. Finding environments that are supportive and prioritizing retaining Black leadership is rare in the creative and entertainment sector. That’s why Unlock Creative seeks to address the specific needs and challenges of Black creatives at ground level with the emerging, underground artists and start-up businesses.

Our target markets are Black and mid-level professional creatives, arts and culture nonprofits organizations and businesses, grassroots organizations and nonprofit organizations located in creative hubs (New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta) and in the US southern states. The creative sector includes the not-for-profit, fine arts, and entertainment industries.

Unlock Creative is positioned to serve our clients because our work and focus, in the end, is to create a more equitable and just work. We are a values-led organization and center this in our practices and policies. We are a certified minority-owned business, founded and led by a Black Women with a team made up of people of color, primarily Black with bonafide credentials.

It has not been easy, no journey is. Opening a business during the pandemic is liberating and has its stresses. The lesson that I try to lead my life and business with is to live in your values. My values and the brand values are authenticity, love and partnership.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Umm well it would totally revolve around food… This Is It soul food restaurant right when you get from the airport. Order your meal soon as you land on the tarmac and pick up when you leaving the airport.
These days, everything outdoor is what we’ve been doing so we could enjoy Serenbe, Southern Belle Farm, Ponce City Market. A few other go to restaurants include Rodney’s Jamacian Soul Food, Gio’s Chicken, and Top Spice. These are all family friendly too.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Jesus, Mom (Edith Walden), Ms. Everett, Carol Bixler, Shay Wafer, Alternate ROOTS. I would also like to recognize Ivan and Eden Davis; becoming a wife and a mother has changed me and made me grow as a person and a leader.

Website: Www.unlockcreative.org

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/unlockcreative_/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ashley-walden-davis-1889b520

Other: https://airtable.com/shr8E1aWJAvi1Sdvg

Image Credits
Alex d Rogers Self photos

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutAtlanta is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.