We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Toy and Rah D. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Toy and Rah D below.
Toy and Rah D, thanks for joining us, excited to have you contributing your stories and insights. What’s the backstory behind how you came up with the idea for your business?
Latoya and Rah D are both transplants of Cincinnati, Ohio. Rah D is from Detroit and moved here about 12 years ago and Latoya moved from Washington D.C. to Cincinnati almost 3 years ago.
For Latoya, living in D.C. meant having a sense of belonging. She had access to a vibrant community of Black queer women whether it was a day party, brunch, or professional groups, Black queer people have space and community everywhere you look.
Moving to Cincinnati, Latoya noticed a lack of Black queer spaces, specifically for Black queer women, where we can build community, let our hair down, and be our authentic selves. She felt like it was important to recreate the atmosphere that made her feel safe, welcomed, and where she can meet others that look like her. Latoya really came to be herself in D.C. Back then, she didn’t know how to should dress or how to should present herself in the world. It wasn’t until she started going to social spaces and meeting all these folks being their authentic selves, that she started to grown into herself as well.
For Rah D, she noticed quickly after moving to Cincinnati that the same spaces were nonexistent. She grew up in a city that celebrated Black Gay Pride, has a plethora of gay bars, and even inhabits a Black Gay Park! For Rah D, moving to Cincinnati was a complete culture shock.
Latoya and Rah D decided to be the solution and help create the community they desired and fix the need for Black Queer events in the city. They founded The Black Pearl Experience in July 2021.
The Black Pearl was named in honor of Josephine Baker. Remembered for her unbothered, infectious, and unapologetic force to be reckoned with – Josephine Baker, also known as The Black Pearl, was and still is an influential Black queer woman. In the words of Rah D – “I love her infectious spirit and how free she seemed to be”. That’s exactly how we envision the Black LGBTQ+ community to feel at all our events.
The Black Pearl Experience is more than just a party. It’s a curated experience with the intent to celebrate us and people like us. We are Black queer women looking to bring unapologetic celebration, joy, art, and music to our community.
Toy and Rah D, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
Named after the legendary Josephine Baker, The Black Pearl Experience curates spaces that bring 100% unapologetic celebration of joy, art, and music to the Black and Brown LGBTQ+ community in Greater Cincinnati, Ohio.
We are Black queer women creating spaces for us, by us.
There are less than 25 lesbian bars in the United States.* (source: https://www.lesbianbarproject.com)
There are 0 lesbian bars in Cincinnati.
There are 0 venues in Cincinnati that centers Black Queer Women/Women who identify as Women/Non-Binary Community.
We deserve to have spaces that celebrate our diversity and fosters our community.
Black Pearl events take place monthly and focus on community, music, and food. Everyone is invited, no matter their color, sexuality, or gender: The Black Pearl Experience might have been founded to create a space for Black, queer women, but the Black Pearl doesn’t exclude. Everyone is welcome.
It’s difficult to move into a new community and not see yourself in that community. We are here to give Black and Brown LGBTQ folks a place to call home, meet new people, and get involved directly into our Black Pearl Community. We call each other “Pearls” and it really builds a bond that is already having a lasting effecting on Cincinnati.
Any insights you can share with us about how you built up your social media presence?
For The Black Pearl Experience, building our social media platform and website was absolutely a high priority. We knew the best way to reach our audience was visually showing them who we are as co-founders and what we’re trying to bring into Cincinnati.
A big piece of our brand is “We are Black queer women creating spaces for us, by us.” So we needed to show our personalities on social media to get people to get to know us and trust us. We started with “About Us” posts, taking pictures of each other together and separately with bios of one another. We did Instagram Live videos of just being fun, carefree, and joyful, all while answering any questions of what the Black Pearl will be and why they should come to our events.
Our advice to you is show who YOU are. Sure, the product or merchandise is important too but at the end of the day, people want to feel like they know who you are. They want to relate to you and see that you’re just like them. Start there and the rest will come.
How do you keep in touch with clients and foster brand loyalty?
Keeping up with our community is another top priority. After all, we’re in the business of event hosting and community building. We branded our community people as “Pearls”, giving them a name as a collective, helps foster that brand loyalty and may increase interest for others who may want to join.
Keeping in touch with everyone can be as easy as a simple social media post asking a question and gathering or replying to the answers. We use tools such as Polls, Quizzes, or Surveys where we ask the community what’s working and what they would like to see.
- Website: https://blackpearlexperience.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/blackpearlexperience/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/blackpearlexperience/
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4iZC6RNf9GbEyHtEwvh1xg
Christina Garrett – 33 West Studios email@example.com Logan Delape