Let’s Get this Party Started!

Leslie E. Royal
Dec, 17, 2015

This is Part 5 of a 7-Part Series on leveraging our enormous buying power and making a commitment to supporting African American Women-Owned Businesses for the Holidays. The Small Business Administration as well as African American women business owners, consumers and experts will weigh in on and give their perspective throughout the series.

Parties are the highlight of the holiday season.  As we continue our #BuyBlack series, we focus on venues owned by African American women.  ESSENCE.com asked Karleen Roy, founder of The Vanity Group, a boutique, lifestyle management company, and several African American women entrepreneurs to share the importance of keeping your dollars in the community as you select holiday venues.  

“We are very much in a time (as we should be) that is about celebrating Black women! Why not support a great venue that is owned by a successful Black woman? We must continue to practice empowerment within our African-American community and economic enrichment with our businesses,” says Roy.  

As you celebrate this holiday season, party with a purpose.  This year, when you make merry at Black women-owned venues, although the party ends, the purpose endures.

You Recycle the Benjamins.  There are Black women owned venues that are unique and offering exceptional service. Consider those first in order to keep resources in your neighborhoods. “It's critical that we circulate our dollars in the community. If there is an African-American, male or female, offering a product or service we need or desire, we should naturally gravitate toward their business,” says Monique Greenwood, owner of The Mansion at Noble Lane in Bethany, PA.    

You Create an Economic Future.  “As a whole, if Blacks would increase their spending only 5% with Black-owned businesses, we would create thousands of jobs within the community. Supporting Black-owned businesses also helps to build generational wealth that will help to give younger generations of Black youth a future,” says Shelia Mants, owner The Mants Estate in Fairburn, GA.  “In doing business, with all things being even, we should support our own race.  This is a principle used within all other races and has helped them to climb economically.”

You Get that Sister Connection.  Mants says Black-owned female venues are more sensitive to the needs of a Black clientele.  That connection is imperative to close the deal and receive repeat business and referrals.  “No one can tell us about ourselves other than us.  The way that we celebrate is done differently than other cultures.  And only we can express that when it comes to our entertainment,” says Cleatress Tobe owner of Art by Cleatress Studio in Baltimore, MD 

You Build a Thriving Collective. Revelers tend to gravitate to the hottest spots.  Often frequented venues can draw more commerce.  “Our businesses are just as viable as others.  When you support black women-owned businesses, the return is that you support growth, expansion and development in your community,” says Ashlye V. Wilkerson, owner of Victory Executive Suites in West Columbia, SC. 

You Help Represent. It’s not easy to find upscale special events locales owned by African American women.  But with your support, those numbers can increase.  “We are a double minority.  We are in a business not greatly represented by African American women.  There are very few of us that are venue owners.  It’s important to support and sustain small businesses built as a result of hard work and sacrifice,” says Joy Harris owner of Coze Event Space in Atlanta, GA. 

5 Unique Venues for Your Last Minute Holiday Soiree

When A-list celebrities and representatives of powerhouse brands want to throw the party of the year, they call on The Vanity Group – a New York-based boutique, luxury, lifestyle management company. (www.thevanitygroup.com) The African-American woman-owned company has produced over-the-top holiday celebrations for celebrities including Sean “Diddy” Combs, Common, Trey Songz, Rick Ross and Fabolous.  

“Our agency is composed of enterprising, creative and well-connected lifestyle management advisors, becoming a go-to resource for the entertainment and sports industry’s elite for bespoke event production, luxury concierge services and talent relations,” says Karleen Roy, founder.  Parties are the highlight of the holiday season.  As such, as we continue our holiday empowerment series, we focus on fascinating special event venues owned by African American women.  We are spotlighting five exceptional Black women doing their thing.  

ESSENCE.com asked Roy to give tips on the best venue to select in order to have a wildly successful holiday bash that will ensure glowing reviews for months to come.  As an added bonus, we provide links to organizations having comprehensive lists and blogs directing you to all things black-owned.

Stay 'til the Morning After at a Hotel/Inn/Resort/Lodge - Monique Greenwood owns The Mansion at Noble Lane in Bethany, PA. A boutique resort offering elegant lodging, a relaxing spa, recreational amenities and an indoor heated pool, it has a variety of on-property venues in which to choose.  When the gala's over, your guests can retreat upstairs to one of several luxurious bedrooms, have a restful sleep and awake to a homemade delectable breakfast the following morning.  
The Vanity View: “This is an ideal venue for a holiday party as guests can really let their hair down and party the night away knowing they do not have to drive home at the end of a long night of cocktails.  This may also be an attractive location if your party has a liquor brand sponsoring the event knowing that your guests are safe to get home at the end of the night.  Did someone say Cîroc Apple Cider cocktails?!”
Looking for a Black-Owned Inn? Try AfricanAmericanInns.com.

Have a Rave at an Eclectic/Nontraditional Event Space - Joy Harris owns Coze Event Space in Atlanta, GA. In the heart of Downtown Atlanta, this centrally located, charming, alternately vintage and eclectic locale is a great idea for your holiday party. Coze allows its clientele the flexibility of customizing their own themes for the celebration. Whether a celebration for 20 close friends or a corporate bash for 100, planners will delight in all of the entertainment options and venue amenities the space offers.
The Vanity View: “Hipsters, artists and creatives want to party too! Coze is a unique, urban event space that gives you the feeling of an eclectic and airy downtown loft residence - this is definitely a spot the local cool kids in the community will love!” 
Looking for a Black-Owned Event Space? Try BlackOwnedBiz.com

Paint and Pour at an Art Gallery/Studio - Cleatress Tobe owns Art by Cleatress Studio in Baltimore, MD. This venue is great for hosts desiring to have to have a fun, interactive holiday party.  Everyone is a “Picasso” at this studio which features paint parties for your family, friends or social organizations such as clubs, fraternities and sororities.  Up to 100 guests can eat, drink wine or whatever, paint, shoot pool and be merry.
The Vanity View: “This type of venue that offers an interactive element would be a great choice for a more social or family-geared holiday party rather than a corporate event. Painting over refreshments and soft drinks is a great way to fellowship with loved ones over the holiday, and the little ones have a takeaway that they can bring home with them and cherish, along with the memories, for years to come.”
Looking for a Black-Owned Studio? Try African Diaspora Businesses   

Socialize in an Intimate Venue/Office Space - Ashlye Wilkerson owns Victory Executives Suites in Columbia, SC.  Having a premier event planner to transform their office space into the décor of your dreams, this locale provides an intimate setting.  Their state-of-the-art technology, grand piano, private entrance, convenient parking, full size kitchen and serving window are great amenities to offer your guests.  
The Vanity View: A space such as Victory Executive Suites is ideal for a corporate or civic organization. Having a catered holiday brunch or lunch affair will give employees a midday treat while working at the office. The venue boasts affordable rates, so if you have a budget that may be a bit more limited, look to a venue like this for a more buffet-styled easy mix and mingle type of moment.” 
Looking for a Black-Owned Intimate Venue? Try Support Black Owned (SBO) 

Bask in the Wonders of Nature at an Outdoor Venue for 50 or 500.  Shelia Mants owns The Mants Estate in Fairburn, GA. – This estate features a 5-acre ranch with private lake. The full service company operating The Mants Estate offers its clients entertainment, bar service, catering and elegant decor.  Several hundred of your guests can enjoy the serenity of the lake and walk on the beautiful grounds.  Host a VIP pre-event reception at the main house which accommodates 50 guests reception style.  Additionally, the Carriage House seats 120 guests for a plated or buffet meal.  Rent one portion or go all out and take over the entire property for the festivities.
The Vanity View: The Mants Estate would be an awesome choice for a larger, more lavish holiday soirée as the venue has both an indoor and outdoor space. If the budget exists, you can really deck it out with all the bells and whistles and impressive decor elements. But if not, stick to hosting your event on the inside of the property.”
Looking for a Black-Owned Outdoor Venue? Try BlackBusinessList.com  

Check out Karleen Roy’s website and follow her on Instagram @VANITYGROUPNYC to view cutting-edge photos and get splendid ideas for your next event.

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