We had the good fortune of connecting with Kris | Jay Hibler- Smith | Funtila and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kris | Jay, what is the most important factor behind your success?
The most important factor behind our success is the sense of family amongst every person involved in our markets; whether a business partner, vendor, sponsor or COMMUNITY member. The success of our brand, that’s solely based on the success of our partners. Our mission aims to connect Black-owned businesses to resources in an attempt to help our community flourish, so when they win, we’re reassured we’ve done our job. At the end of it all, we engage, we support, and we show love.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
That’s where it gets deep: What continues to surprise people is Melanin Market started as a passion project, and it has remained that for almost two years now. We as Co-Founders haven’t reached a point of feeling comfortable enough to pocket what we make. We started with the intent to give back to the community, and that is what we continue to do. Because Melanin Market is our passion project, we both still juggle regular jobs to support ourselves. Kris has a background working in Business and Legal affairs for entertainment companies, and is currently working as a project manager for a Black-owned construction company. Jay has an extensive background in youth development and support, and is currently working as a case manager for sexually exploited youth. Nothing has been easy about the things we have done, but the results outweigh the work we put in. The biggest lesson in building and maintaining a business, especially with a partner, is to have clear balance. Kris and Jay have been friends for 7 years, and with that, they have learned each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Knowing those things about each other have allowed them to do what comes natural to them and bring both aspects together as one. We want the world to know that Melanin Market LA is all about community and we will do our best to bring Melanin Market to all the communities that are in need of a safe space for Black businesses to connect with their community. We are determined to show the youth and one another that we can build empires too and still do what we love.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Leimert Park Village The Forum Vector 90 Metaphor club Sip & sonder Hot & cool cafe Ride on bike shop Cafe creole South la cafe Bayou Grille My 2 Cents LA

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
We want to give a shout out to all of our vendors. We have been lucky enough to have some of the most supportive businesses come and be apart of Melanin Market. Our vendors have been there to uplift us and give us honest feedback with resources to help better the Market for our growth but also for other vendors as well. We look at our vendors as a true extension of what we want to continue to be, role models. We see every vendor, even new vendors, as TRUE role models just for having a business. Some of them don’t realize it, but that’s exactly what they are because starting a business isn’t easy but they were brave and strong enough to do it. All of the vendors have different stories about their business and why they started it, but at our markets they all see one common denominator, Black business owners that are doing what makes them happy. We see these vendors make connections with one another and tell each other about other opportunities they can be a part of, or different programs they can get involved in. Our vendors are dedicated to bettering the community just like we are. Seeing the connections these vendors are making with one another and with patrons makes us want to continue doing what we’re doing even more. A few of the vendors we would like to shoutout are: Nena’s Organics (@nenas_organics) Gilded Grotto (@gildedgrotto) Zevelyn Jean (@zevelynjean) Juice.FX (@thejuice.fx) Black Coffee Co.(@blkcoffeeco) Simply Beauteeful and More (@Simply_Beauteefulandmore) Wicked Willow Candles (@WickedWillowCandles) Gold Soul Good JuJu (@GoldSoulGoodJuju)

Website: melaninmarketla.com
Instagram: instagram.com/melaninmarketla
Twitter: twitter.com/melaninmarketla
Facebook: facebook.com/melaninmarketla

Image Credits
DMG Imaging Asia Feliciano

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.