This interview was originally featured in Tech For Equity Updates — a biweekly newsletter about Change Machine’s platform, including upcoming trainings, and insights from our community of practice. Subscribe today!
Meet Roshaun Davis, a cultural strategist, community developer, and co-founder of Unseen Heroes who partners with community-centric organizations that range from early stage entrepreneurs, corporate companies, developers, and governmental agencies. Unseen Heroes is a Sacramento-based experiences agency, providing events, media, and retail services through a community-oriented lens.
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We spoke with Roshaun on elevating Black and Brown creative voices and entrepreneurs.
Tell us more about Unseen Heroes.
When we first started, we were watching an award show and we saw how an award winner thanked all the unsung heroes behind the scenes that helped them get there. So as we were formulating what we do, we always wanted to put the folks that we’ve worked with in the spotlight and not necessarily take the shine.
In Sacramento, we didn’t have public relations agencies or management companies that focused on creative talent, so we wanted to try and create it here. We would see talented people come in, but they either had to leave to go make it or they got a state job. Our whole goal was that you can make money off your talent, so we started helping folks and our organization slowly grew from there.
We’ve created markets under our creativity, which allows us to use our talents to develop an economic engine for folks. We’re able to direct people to our market to learn and make money. All in all, it’s the joy of someone being able to be economically stable based on their creativity or ideas.
How do your events, such as the NeighborGood Market, focus on both community and economic benefits?
We’ve learned over the years that our events attract people who want to connect with their community. Our programming — and then the way we operate — reflects that. We always keep an inclusive lens, from age to cultural demographics. We take all of those things into account as we’re building out these spaces.
People know their dollar goes further when they spend it at this market because it goes into the local economy. We’re always telling these stories intentionally to highlight that these markets are bringing in millions of dollars a year for the community.
Why is it important to uplift Black and Brown-led organizations?
That’s one of the most important pieces and I didn’t know how to put the struggles that I’ve felt for the last 14 years into words until I joined a Change Machine cohort and looked at the data. I started looking at things differently, saying, “There are services that could’ve helped me get out of a million different pitfalls over the last 14 years.”
I feel like more and more folks, especially folks of color, need these tools and technical assistance. I just imagine how much of a different trajectory I could have been in if I knew all of the things that I’m learning in the cohort and all the data that I’ve learned about the true opposition that is up against Black and Brown folks in certain cities more so than others.
How has Change Machine’s Centering cohort impacted your work?
The most influential part has been being able to talk to folks in these one-on-one coaching sessions, being challenged to look at things in a different way, and push past our growth edges. Even in the steps ahead that we’re not at yet, we have coaching that says “It’s okay — we are going to get there.” That’s helped us keep going.
The greatest a-ha moment was seeing the amount of folks in the cohort, which made me feel less alone. I think a lot of times we feel like we’re going through all these things by ourselves, but I saw folks from all over the country holding space together with a willingness to learn and be taught. That was my aha moment — this is real.
For folks who are in the cohort now: I know we’re all at different levels in our journey. Some people can soak up more than others because of where they are in life or their organization, but I think understanding the importance of the tools that are being shared right now — for both the present and the long term future — shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Learn how Change Machine can help you access critical tools and resources by booking a call with our team.