Since making its $500 million In Solidarity pledge to help close the racial wealth and opportunity gap, Mastercard has deepened its partnerships with local business owners, universities and community stakeholders in seven cities across the country. As part of its ongoing commitment to racial equity, Mastercard is investing in communities by driving support for Black-owned businesses, increasing financial literacy and education programs, uplifting HBCUs and bringing people who have historically been left out into the digital economy.
Last month, Mastercard was active on the ground in Los Angeles, where local entrepreneurs had the opportunity to showcase their products at a Mastercard pop-up at AfroTech. We spoke with two business owners to learn more about how Mastercard is helping showcase their work to the world.
Founded in Compton, California by clinical psychotherapist Krystyl Wright, LOT XI is a community-conscious urban apothecary curating and crafting its products by hand. Each product is made in small batches with environmentally-safe and organic ingredients. LOT XI prides itself on purchasing fresh, fair trade ingredients from local farmers and supporting other entrepreneurs.
“We got involved with AfroTech Executive LA as a brand partner after working with Mastercared for a few years. Mastercard reached out to us for the amazing opportunity to be featured at the Mastercard Small Business Marketplace at AfroTech Executive LA,” said Wright. “Mastercard’s partnership has allowed us to expand into the corporate space and have opportunities in the corporate gifting space, as well as creating digital experiences worldwide.”
By featuring its signature candles, bath soaps, home essentials, body butters and more, LOT XI wants attendees to “experience the quality of our products and learn how we are working on being environmentally and socially conscious within and around Compton, CA,” says Wright.
Founded by Megan Renee Smith in 2017, Megan Renee is a sustainable women’s contemporary brand exclusively designed and made in Los Angeles. After feeling undervalued and underappreciated as a designer for several private brand labels, Smith saw an opportunity to create a less wasteful product in an industry full of fast fashion. Megan Renee creates original prints with a fraction of the ink and water used in traditional fabric printing, while keeping low inventory in stock to maintain a sustainable supply chain. Megan Renee draws inspiration from travel, as well as the strength and beauty of women to create bold prints in wearable staples.
Megan Renee Smith joined the pop-up marketplace in the hopes to help “attendees learn how my brand uses technology to push our pledge to sustainability. We use sustainable printing and fabrics for all of our collections.”
“The support from Mastercard has been amazing! Since receiving the small business grant last year, my business has flourished in so many ways. Mastercard has helped build my brand visibility and given me so many valuable resources that [have] helped grow my brand. I want to use our continued partnership to access more financial opportunities and marketing education.”
This editorial is brought to you in partnership with Mastercard.