We had the good fortune of connecting with VIBE BK and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi VIBE BK, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
The journey of VIBE BK really begins with a Brooklyn high school friendship that developed into a sisterhood that is housed in East Flatbush, Brooklyn NY. Our common ground: a love for all things Brooklyn and a passion for helping others. We both have years of experience working with youth, in the areas of mentorship and teaching. Little did we know that those experiences would prime us for entrepreneurship. Our goal is to offer youth what we didn’t have as adolescents growing up, a designated space for exploration. Jumping into the entrepreneurial pool later in life, we wish we had support in advancing our talents in a way that led to business. There are several safe spaces for youth but not many are using concentrated time in teaching them how to use their skills to develop as entrepreneurs. This is the void that VIBE BK fills. VIBE BK strives to engage, cultivate ideas and manifest dreams, vibing the Brooklyn way. VIBE BK is an innovative community that promotes creativity, and a feel-good-vibe for all freelancers, creatives, youthpreneurs, and entrepreneurs. It is the home to youth empowerment program VIBE Academy; a hub for young Brooklyn minorities ages 10 to 17 to learn other means of advancement outside of the traditional classroom. We welcome youth who have an interest in creating a business, irrespective of academic standing. We provide youth with engaging workshops on foundational principles for business. Youth are connected with professional mentors in their field of interest, participate in community projects to foster accountability and actually create their own businesses. During the Summer of 2020 we graduated our first VIBE Academy cohort consisting of five brilliant teens who created their own apparel line, artistic products, opened a store, produced designer nails, started a marketing agency and created their own musical beats. Although, we had to pivot to a virtual program, our students rose to the challenge and we could not be prouder. It is our dream to continue to implement our VIBE Academy curriculum in schools and youth organizations abroad. The impact and value are immeasurable. Representation matters. It is important that our youth see Black and Brown business owners to know that the goal is attainable. We are responsible for not only teaching our youth how to own and obtain lucrative assets but to build a legacy as well. VIBE BK in its totality is in place to create a legacy that fosters accountability, empowerment and enrichment for our communities.Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am currently employed as an Occupational Health Specialist at one of New York City’s top-ranked hospitals. My role is two-fold in that I assist in patient care and I also provide outreach within the community to discuss best safety and health practices. I have over a decade of extensive experience in management and youth programming. I began youth mentorship toward the end of college. It is my passion for empowering others that has driven my career path.
I am a Licensed Master’s Social Worker with over 14 years of experience in working with youth and families. I have served in various roles, including leadership within the nonprofit sector. I currently function as a Senior Program Director within the Homeless Services Division of a nonprofit organization. For more than a decade I have served as a youth mentor in Brooklyn and Queens. I have a love for writing as well. I am a creative soul and believe everyone needs an outlet for authentic expression.
Latoya and I knew that we wanted to create a business that would have impact. We have the innate skills which are servitude and passion. However, entrepreneurship and all that it entails are challenging to say the least. It requires a level of audacity that you may not even know that you have. For us this is a true testament of practicing faith over fear because no one can predict how well a business will be received. It takes consistency and confidence in your dream to move forward. VIBE BK is much bigger than us. It is intended to provide a platform for those who dare to step outside of the box.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Brooklyn is the place to be in New York City. A week is not enough time to share all the gems of our borough. For some day time fun, you can visit the Brooklyn Museum, Botanical Gardens or hit downtown for some shopping. City Point and Fulton Street are go to’s. Prospect Park for a stroll and scenery is a must. DUMBO is a one stop shop for art, music, food, and recreation. Domino Park is a chill spot to hang out with friends or a date during the warmer months. A Brooklyn staple for events is BAM- Brooklyn Academy of Music. During the Summer there is Dance Africa. The Barclays is a hub for concerts and sporting events. We cannot forget about Coney Island and the Brooklyn Bridge. We have Black owned restaurants that are our favorites such as Imani’s, Kokomo, and Negril’s BK. For drinks and a vibe definitely check out Ode to Babbel, 333 Lounge, Rogers Garden, Sweet Brooklyn Bar, Brooklyn Beso and Savvy Bistro.Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
We give a special shout out to Kayla Thomas and Brianna Zimmerman, our VIBE Creative Coordinators. They have been alongside us for the journey of VIBE Academy. They assisted in executing the curriculum for our pilot program and hosting our first graduation. We would be remiss if we did not offer gratitude to the parents who trusted us to teach their youth. We, also partnered with amazing professionals who mentored the youth and served as panelists for our first pitch contest. Keshia Grinnell, the Founder and CEO of Konglomerate Consulting has been a true guide and trusted sounding board from the moment we decided to enter the world of entrepreneurship. Lastly, we give many thanks to our families and our special circle of female friends who have been day ones for the past twenty years.
Website: vibebk.com and vibebk.com/shop
Instagram: @thevibebk and @the.vibe.academy
Photo Credits @bigafrodude @Gabbiekinz