2020 V.I.B.E. Creative Marketing Grant Winners and Finalists

2020 V.I.B.E. Creative Marketing Grant Winners and Finalists

In the Fall of this year, Online Optimism started an annual creative marketing grant for Black-led businesses in New Orleans, called V.I.B.E., or Venture to Ignite Black Entrepreneurship. With this grant, a collection of local creative agencies & media companies will be helping local Black-led New Orleans businesses bolster their marketing and give their business a push in the right direction. 

Winner: K. Allen Consulting, LLC.

We are excited to announce that our 2020 V.I.B.E Creative Marketing Grant winner: Krystal Allen and her team at K. Allen Consulting!

K. Allen Consulting is committed to addressing educational inequity for all students, particularly Black and Brown students in our nation’s urban and rural schools. They believe that access to a high-quality education should be a right to every child, and this informs their work providing professional development and coaching services to many schools across the country, particularly in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Although K. Allen Consulting serves clients in 5 countries, it remains rooted and ground in its service to New Orleans schools, nonprofits, and businesses alike. For instance, they provide philanthropic giving to organizations such as the Legacy Leadership Academy for Girls, have provided monetary donations to teachers during COVID-19.

When asked about why her consulting firm would benefit from our grant, Krystal said that, “No matter how big or small, investing in Black and Brown initiatives that promote our healing, tackle multiple forms of oppression, and create spaces that help us become our best selves is what makes our work impactful.”


Crescent City Chiropractic Center

Founded in 2017 by Dr. Kelleigh Payne, Crescent City Chiropractic Center specializes in musculoskeletal wellness and physical rehabilitation. The center focuses on many areas of chiropractic care like chiropractic manipulation, spinal decompression, rehabilitation from injuries sustained via motor vehicle accidents, spine pain, back pain, and headaches. This is done through a variety of methods like massage, lumbar decompression, and myofascial cupping.

Katmacho Toys and Games

Katmacho Toys and Games is an online learning development toy company for children of all ages. Brittney Rixner, a school teacher, founded the company in 2019 when she became concerned about the impact and longevity of her daughter’s toys. As a teacher, Brittney was aware of the many different styles that children learn and these styles are often not explored in schools. So, she created her own company to help children of all ages learn skills through play. 

Full of educational and career oriented products, her company also hosts a weekly podcast. Katmacho’s mission is, “To encourage outdoor play, superior linguistic skills, social emotional and academic excellence, career exploration and inner joy through toys, games, books, costumes, and licensed merchandise.”

Advanced Allergy Associates

Advanced Allergy Associates is a 100% Black-owned business treating, asthma, allergic rhinitis, eczema, hives, food allergies, and more. Dr. Cheryl Williams has been in practice since 1994 and exclusively with the practice of Allergy/ Immunology since 2000. She is the only Black female allergist in New Orleans. Dr. Williams is active in many civic and community-service organizations. She enjoys serving the community of New Orleans and its surrounding areas providing preventative education. Dr. Williams has also volunteered her services to under-served areas like Honduras and Trinidad.

D&G Used Tires

Victor Lindsey started D&G Used Tires in 2018 seeing a need for quality, affordable tire services in the New Orleans East community. D&G is critical to the community and customers enjoy their experience there. They are known for their quality products, generosity, and kind, attentive service of all customers. The team at D&G works fast and efficiently, while delivering the best used tires.

Charnell Tira Hair Studio

Tira Bland is a master hairstylist who owns a Hair Salon in New Orleans. She believes that healthy hair can also be stylish, and should! Tira specializes in thermal silk pressing, precision cutting, and weaving and has been a master hair stylist for 15 years. Her hair studio also offers  super trendy and stylish Lollipop Lashes! Her clients have given her rave reviews, with one client writing, “Every time I go to Charnell Tira’s Hair studio I’m never disappointed. My hair always comes out amazing and better than expected, not to mention it lasts for weeks!”

Blackstar Diversified Enterprises

Founded in 2015 by Hugh Dewitt Blackwell, Blackstar Diversified Enterprises strives to revolutionize the electric industry in Louisiana, Washington, DC, Virginia, Maryland, and Mississippi. Blackstar Diversified is a certified systems integrator and reseller of electrical distribution, traffic control equipment and IoT (Internet of Things) software. They specialize in project management, equipment sales, service sales, engineering design, equipment manufacturing and integration. In electrical distribution, BDE offers low voltage and medium voltage equipment, low voltage switchgear and medium voltage switchgear retrofit, and power distribution. In traffic, BDE offers custom traffic control cabinets, digital traffic signs, traffic safety equipment, message boards, signage, UPS and hardware.

HYPE Academy

HYPE Academy is a for-profit Private School and Academic Resource Center that provides academic services and support for school-age youth in the New Orleans area. HYPE, or Helping Young People Excel, offers an intimate learning environment with a student to teacher ratio of 15 to 1. Online and in-person, one-on-one tutoring is offered for first through twelfth-grade students with academic gaps. Summer school is also offered to provide students with opportunities to earn high school credit, remediate learning gaps, and get a head start on the next school year. Founded in 2011 by Joshua and Arianne Craig Jolla, HYPE Academy has served over 700 families in the Greater New Orleans area.

Cultural Education & Conciliation Consultant (CECC)

Founded by Oswald (Oz) Cooper, Cultural Education & Conciliation Consultant (CECC), LLC is an extension of Who Dat Steppers of New Orleans (WDS-NOLA), LLC. We help organizations create successful, just, and equitable, culture, from the top down, and inside out. We are the Social Equity & Social Justice Industry Leader. We offer, a radical revolutionary, paradigm shift of values in the collective psychic of Americans, that is focused, intentional and purposeful in transforming America from a “Thing-Oriented” society to a “Person Oriented” society. One that puts People before Profit, Policy before Politics and Principle before Power. We focus on eradicating from the Individualistic American consciousness, the values and beliefs of a Eurocentric Culture that manifest itself in the form of violent, unprincipled, and unjust behavior towards Black Americans and People of Color. As racial equity consulting firm, CECC aims to educate our community on how our unique culture has and does influences society at large. Inspired by his immersion in the Urban Swing Dance Culture, Oz is committed to ensuring our community understands and values culture, and the impact it has on every aspect of our existence, from cradle to grave. We know that history connects people to a land, culture connects people to what they do, and beliefs have consequences. Choose your culture. Change the world.

Let’s Make an Impact Together

Online Optimism believes that we have a responsibility to our community. New Orleans is home to many thriving, small businesses in a variety of industries, 40% of these Black-led. However, due to systemic inequalities, Black-led businesses receive around 2% of all receipts. The 2020 V.I.B.E. Creative Marketing Grant is just the beginning of our efforts to help correct some of these systemic injustices. We look forward to working with a new host of Black-led entrepreneurs for the next V.I.B.E. Grant in 2021!