CultureCon With Founder Imani Ellis: Creatives, Entrepreneurs Of Color Celebrate Influence On Society

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Written by Ann Brown

The one-day CultureCon conference is back, with planned appearances by Charlamagne tha God, La La Anthony, and more, and an audience of creatives and entrepreneurs of color celebrating their influence on society.

The conference has its roots in the summer of 2016, when Imani Ellis invited 10 friends to come over to her one-bedroom Harlem apartment and share what projects they were working on. That night, The Creative Collective NYC was born.

Monthly meet-ups followed, providing creatives of color with resources, a way to make connections and get support on their projects. The meet-ups quickly grew from small groups to crowds of 50+ people all crammed into a living room.

Imani Ellis, founder of Creative Collective NYC and CultureCon. Photo: theccnyc.com

Hosting more than 70 events since its founding in 2016, TheCCnyc partners with brands like HBO, Revolt and Samsung to create gatherings that feel like family getting together and not like a bunch of strangers forcing themselves to “network.”

An ideas conference, CultureCon started in 2017. Hosted by TheCCnyc, CultureCon features creatives and entrepreneurs who are shifting culture. The legendary director Spike Lee was the keynote speaker at the inaugural event in 2017. This year, the conference will be back on Oct. 13 featuring John Legend, LaLa Anthony, Blavity co-founder Jonathan Jackson, among others.

Moguldom caught up with Imani Ellis, founder of The Creative Collective NYC, as she prepares for this year’s CultureCon.

“Millennial creatives of color are excited to see themselves reflected in a conference in an authentic way. We have a unique opportunity to make that happen. We are our own audience. There isn’t a need for a translator here. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” — Imani Ellis, founder of CultureCon

Moguldom: How did the Creative Collective come about?

Imani Ellis: The Creative Collective NYC was born in the living room of my Harlem apartment when I invited some of my closest friends over to share the projects they were working on. They received feedback in real time and were able to connect with fellow creatives of color who wanted to build something bigger than themselves.

Moguldom: Was it difficult for people to grasp the concept at first?

Imani Ellis: Not at all. Community is at the heart of The Creative Collective NYC because in a time where digital has taken the reins, in-person connectivity feels like home.

Moguldom: Tell me your elevator pitch for the Creative Collective.

Imani Ellis: The Creative Collective NYC is a community immersed in culture and is dedicated to facilitating brave spaces for multicultural creatives. We curate meaningful moments and work with incredible brands to create experiences and  content that authentically resonates with our community.

Moguldom: What prompted you to start and host CultureCon?

Imani Ellis: We wanted to extend beyond a meet-up that lasted an hour or so and create a day conference filled to the brim with panels, activations and workshops that resonated with our community. We thought it would be incredible to create a conference for us, by us — so we went out and did it.

Moguldom: The first CultureCon was highly successful, what will make this one go to the next level?

Imani Ellis: The inaugural CultureCon was so incredible but we can’t wait for CultureCon this year. We’re scaling in a big way. Last year, CultureCon had hundreds of people on the waiting list, so we’re making space those people to be in the audience and also curating even more experiences, workshops and activations.

Moguldom: Why do you feel people are excited about CultureCon?

Imani Ellis: I think that millennial creatives of color are excited to see themselves reflected in a conference in an authentic way and I think we have a unique opportunity to make that happen. We are our own audience so there isn’t a need for a translator here. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

Moguldom: What is your ultimate goal with the Creative Collective?

Imani Ellis: We want to continue to create brave spaces for our community in all facets of their lives — from employment resources to collaboration opportunities with fellow creatives — we want to encourage and embolden our community in every way we can.

Moguldom: What is your ultimate goal with CultureCon?

Imani Ellis: We would love to see CultureCon reach a national and global level. We move culture and that’s a message that we strongly believe in. We want to share it everywhere we go.

Moguldom: The Creative Collective has drawn countless creatives of color to its events and the organization, but do you feel creatives of color are finally being seen by the rest of the world?

Imani Ellis: We are living in an unprecedented time of visibility and it’s an incredible thing. From Nike featuring Colin Kaepernick in their 30th-anniversary campaign to Kamala Devi Harris becoming the second African American woman to serve as a U.S. Senator, we are unapologetically embracing what it means to stand for what we believe in and push culture forward.