We had the good fortune of connecting with Loren Cobbs and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Loren, what is the most important factor behind your success?
The most key factor of our success at SD Melanin has always been putting our community first. The folks who show up to our events and support us aren’t just customers, they’re valued members of our community, they’re like family. And when you value someone you treat them well,  and you put thought and effort into everything you do for them because they matter.     

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
So I’m the proud founder of SD Melanin, an experiential events company creating space and community for Black professionals, and Crate Agency, a marketing consulting firm dedicated to building stronger brands and inclusive companies. My path was anything BUT traditional. I got started as a marketing analyst for Procter & Gamble out of undergrad and later worked on President Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012. After that I became a Rangel fellow with the Department of State and later became a U.S. Diplomat as I’ve always had a passion for travel and service. I moved overseas with the Department, first to Thailand and then Mexico, to serve our country. While serving in Mexico I was physically close to San Diego, so I decided to tap into professional networks there. However, I quickly noticed that many of the San Diego spaces weren’t created for me and I often felt unwelcomed.

So, I began investigating if this was an isolated experience or a consistent sentiment across Black professionals? It turns out this was the sad truth for many, that spaces which welcome Black folks were far and few between. Thus, instead of waiting for someone else to change that I decided to create what was missing. I began to organize a brunch event (because who doesn’t like brunch) that was specifically curated for young, Black professionals. Despite not really knowing many people, since I was new to the area, I began telling everyone I met about this upcoming Black brunch including random people I met on the street, the folks I swiped right on, literally everyone!
And soon the word spread like wildfire and in a matter of days, the event sold out and SD Melanin was born. How overjoyed people were to just be able to exist as they are, in comfort and community. There was no need for code-switching, no judgement, just good vibes and better people! By day I was a Diplomat in Mexico and by night I was building one of the largest communities of Black professionals in SoCal and curating some of the dopest experiences for them. Since that first brunch we’ve served over 10,000 professionals, curated well over 200 events, and helped make lifelong connections to others, I’m talking about marriages, kids, business partners, and best friends! My experiences building and expanding SD Melanin was so fulfilling and purpose driven that I eventually decided to leave my role as a diplomat to focus on expanding my entrepreneurial aspirations with SD Melanin and, eventually, Crate Agency. Alas, here I am today!

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If my bestie were to join me for a weekend in San Diego here’s the agenda I’d plan for us: Friday Upon landing we’d drop our bags off and go grab lunch at Surf & Soul Spot. Then we’d grab a delicious drink from The Write Juice truck and take a stroll through downtown, taking in the city’s sights and views. After a quick nap, because adults need naps too, we’d check out Black Xpressions poetry night for some live readings. Then I’d close out the day with dinner and drinks at Louisiana Purchase! Saturday We’ll start out the day with some delicious breakfast sandwiches from Spoiled Vegan and then head to Coronado beach for a day in the sun. After basking we’ll head back, nap (again, naps are very important), and get ready for a full evening. First, we’ll see what cool new exhibits are up at The Hillstreet Country Club, and next we’ll head to Muzita Abyssinian Bistro for some amazing Ethiopian dishes. After that we’ll grab dessert from Maya’s Cookies and head north for great wine and conversations at SIP Wine and Beer. Finally, we’ll close out the night dancing to tunes from dope DJs at AIR-CONDITIONED Lounge. Sunday Breakfast tacos are in order so we’ll head to La Fachada for some of the best Mexican tacos north of the border and then head to Quartyard for chill afternoon outside with mimosas and amazing graffiti art. If we’re lucky, we’ll catch a catch a live set by Geminelle or The Lyrical Groove before we have to head back to pack and catch flights!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I dedicate my shoutout to my sister, Breanna Bacon, for always encouraging me and pushing me forward.

Website: sdmelanin.com | crateagency.com
Instagram: @sdmelanin | @crateagency
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lorencobbs/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sdmelanin

Image Credits
Jake Shuttlesworth and Amari Dixon

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