We had the good fortune of connecting with Isha Metzger and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Isha, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Starting my own business happened out of necessity and demand. I’m a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and my work focuses on helping Black families navigate and heal from interpersonal and racial stressors. Cultural Concepts, LLC was born in the summer of 2020 following the callous murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor. Suddenly, other university departments, community mental health centers, small businesses, private organizations, and even large corporations began reaching out to me for consultations. My traditional work in academia allows me to research positive youth development in Black families, teach undergraduate and doctoral students, and supervise clinicians working to help clients heal from interpersonal and racial stress and trauma. This was work that I’ve been doing my entire career, so the transition to entrepreneurship was really a no-brainer once the timing was right.
What should our readers know about your business?
I think my academic reputation and program of research is what has made Cultural Concepts most successful. In academia, I am intentional about making my research accessible and beneficial to the public. As mentioned in my first interview (http://voyageatl.com/interview/conversations-inspiring-dr-isha-metzger/), The EMPOWER Lab houses much of my academic work and we focus on Engaging Minorities in Prevention, Outreach, Wellness, Education, and Research. To do so, The EMPOWER Lab summarizes relevant research in weekly online spotlights on our Instagram (www.instagram.com/theEMPOWERlab), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/TheEMPOWERlab1), and Twitter (https://twitter.com/TheEMPOWERLab). We are extremely active in outreach, like disseminating psychoeducational materials around Athens via an online Racial Trauma Guide (http://www.drishametzger.com/racial-trauma-guide and https://psychology.uga.edu/racial-trauma-guide) and developing an online “C.A.R.E Package for Racial Healing” (http://www.drishametzger.com/care-package-for-racial-healing) that is accompanied by psychoeducational and skills-based videos and interactive and real-world activities for ethnic minority teens that focuses on Coping and Resilience through Empowerment”. We have a Public Health Messaging Campaign (http://www.drishametzger.com/public-health-messaging and https://www.instagram.com/p/CMc9GhygIc2/) that uses yard signs and posters to spread information about this signs of racial trauma, how to cope with racial stressors, and strategies for effective allyship. This campaign has been widely disseminated on UGA’s campus (in the two largest colleges, campus recreational center, housing halls, main class room buildings, and health clinic), around Athens (at churches, community organizations, children’s advocacy centers, and government buildings), at community rallys against racial discrimination and hate crimes (https://www.instagram.com/p/CNOBHKphxVm/), and on our social media that has also made the community aware of our efforts. Also, I have really enjoyed discussing coping and healing from racial trauma on our Black and EMPOWERED podcast (https://blackandempowered.podbean.com/ and http://www.drishametzger.com/black-and-empowered-podcast). I think that people are initially drawn in by my passion for these efforts, but then they reach out to me and find out that I have a legitimate business and can help them and their team, company, trainees, students, etc. achieve their goals as well. So, I’ve been lucky to form many productive and empowering working relationships from a mutual interest and desire to help Black youth heal from interpersonal and racial stress and trauma.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My most recent staycation was during the quarantine so thankfully some my itinerary is pandemic friendly. I’d start with an evening at Skyview ATL which is a ferris wheel that allows for a wonderful view of the city! The boxes for the ride are private, and perfect for a sunset of catching up about life and the craziness of late. For outdoor views of the city, we could have the early morning option of walking the battery, hiking to Bamboo Forest, or climbing Stone Mountain depending on the level of physical activity we were up for that weekend. I’m trying out intermittent fasting so by then, we’d check Yelp for wait times and either check out Slutty Vegan or Big Dave’s Cheesteaks for an authentic Atlanta lunch. Also, because the nation is opening up and because I’m a lover of Carribbean and African music, I’d also give us some party options. The Atlanta scene is massive, so we’d have the choice between Rum Punch Brunch or Sunday Morning Breakfast Fete for daytime options, and AfroSoca Love or the newly returned Entice Atlanta at Thrive. I’d definitely keep our schedule flexible, though, and I wouldn’t be surprised of most of the weekend was spent on the couch eating popcorn in face masks watching reruns of SATC or The Hills.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Land that we love our Sierra Leone! My parents were born in Freetown and they immigrated to the States in the 80s. I grew up in a beautifully large family in College Park, GA, that was loud, loving, and resilient. My first memories of white people were when I started getting bussed across town to Sandy Springs from College Park for elementary school. I remember learning to navigate school as a young Black girl in a white space, and as an African growing up in America. I also remember cooking and dancing and talking with my family and other kids in the Sierra Leonean community about the beaches, markets, and culture and even the Civil War back home. Later on, we began traveling back home yearly, and I enjoyed expanding my horizons and being able to travel and experience different cultures in Senegal, Ghana, the Seychelles, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Dubai, and countless other countries. Today, some may notice that my LLC’s logo incorporates the colors of the flag of Sierra Leone. In my consultations, many of which focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, I always make sure to emphasize the celebration of differences both within and between cultures and the understanding of our own experiences in order to improve individual, organizational, and systemic relationships and outcomes, especially for historically underserved, underrepresented, and otherwise marginalized groups.