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  • Writer's pictureKeyaira Boone

The Black Brunch New Jersey Turns Three

While everyone else was busy taking a trip to Wakanda a group of entrepreneurs were celebrating the three year anniversary of another kind of black excellence at the Black Brunch New Jersey. The brainchild of L'Oreal Drayton, the brunch series, seeks to connect small business owners with their peers. The dress code simply calls for all black and there is no reserved seating. Like the day party before it brunch has become the event of choice for young professionals looking to blow off some steam. But unlike the bottle-service filled fetes at places like Central Park where Drayton says “the music can be so loud’ and “the drinks can be flowing so heavy” that “you can’t talk business” this event series is intentional about making sure its attendees can really connect with one another. She was inspired by a two year stint she spent in Atlanta, Georgia.

Well-known as an entertainment hub the southern city had plenty of avenues for entrepreneurs to share information and pitch one another ideas. But when Drayton returned home to the Garden State she says didn’t find the same spaces.

In addition to their signature brunch, the organization holds workshops, informal meet-ups, and other events.

This month’s anniversary celebration was held at the Tabula Rasa Gallery in Rahway’s Arts District.

The menu featured vegan options like curry flavored vegetables and a butternut squash baked macaroni.

Customized cocktails for the event including the lime and activated charcoal infused “BBNJ” were crafted by mobile bartending service Taylor Made.

Additional supporters of the event included 360 Affairs, and Sweet Treats Boutique. Throughout the afternoon the photographer behind Afia’s Legacy snapped candids of guests chatting with one another.

Prior to founding the Black Brunch New Jersey Drayton, an Irvington native spent more than twenty years working in healthcare information technology before transitioning to event production. Not long after her transition The Black Brunch New Jersey was featured in Hip New Jersey.

This occasion not only marked the event’s anniversary it marked the first time it publicly celebrated one of the network’s members. Urban Art & Music was presented with the “We Appreciate You” award to highlight their contributions to the Black Brunch New Jersey community. The collective supports the arts through an urban ready-to-wear clothing line that Drayton can often be seen wearing while running errands.

She says one of the things she loves the most about running the series is the passion she encounters when connecting with people following their dreams. “I love when I can meet somebody and not say a word and listen to them talk about their brands for thirty minutes straight!” She shared that people often approached her on the street even when she wasn’t wearing her signature merchandise. She never shies away from chatting with a supporter saying “I love being the black brunch lady!”

As expected there were plenty of business owners in the room but there were also plenty of the people who stand beside them. Spouses, partners, and friends were there to support their loved ones in their journey towards success. The recipients of the W.A.Y. award declined to accept it instead presenting the award to one of the co-founders wife saying she was “the one person who truly deserves this award."

The audience let out a collective “aww” as he detailed the sacrifices she had made in order to support the Urban, Art, & Music brand. Sacrifice was something that those in attendance knew all too well. Some of them are actually financing their dreams by working second and even third jobs to raise capital.

The afternoon ended with everyone exchanging business cards, handshakes, and hugs over the hum of New Jersey style house music. However Drayton didn’t want the lighthearted environment to overshadow the serious side of self-employment. When ending her keynote speech she advised the small business owners in attendance to embrace the not so glamorous portions of the entrepreneurial journey stating firmly “It is not easy but it is worth it.”

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