Kolor Society’s Zaneta J Smith Enriches South L.A. with Community and Connectivity

Zaneta J. Smith talks the creation of Kolor Society, the importance of generational unity, and the value of enriching black neighborhoods.

It isn’t breaking news that finding a black community in Los Angeles to connect with is a tough challenge. L.A. county spans nearly 5000 miles  across nearly 90 cities with over 9,000,000 residents. But of these residents, only 9% are black — and they are dispersed into small pockets throughout the county. In recent years, there has been a significant influx of day parties, brunches and networking events geared toward gathering black millennials in social spaces. These events often make Hollywood and Downtown LA — two of the most central (and most gentrified) parts of LA county — their main hub. But of these exciting concepts, one of the most innovative is Kolor Society; a members-only social club for black millennials AND Gen X’ers that aims to create enriching spaces for us to connect closer to our residential hubs in South Los Angeles. Founder Zaneta J Smith — a Social Worker by day known for her notable work in the community —  realized the magic that can happen when creative millenials and perceptive Gen X’ers got together. Utilizing her impressive connections and knack for event production, Zaneta J Smith intends to showcase that connecting black people within their own communities is the best way to ignite change within them.
Kolor Society’s “Mental Health & Struggle” Event
Read on for an exclusive interview with Kolor Society’s founder Zaneta J. Smith.

Want to attend Kolor Society’s next event, ‘Koloring Book Brunch’ on Saturday, August 18th? Click HERE and use code ‘Strut’ at checkout for free entry and discounted brunch! 

Can you explain what the mission of Kolor Society is and how it enriches to the black community?

Zaneta: Kolor Society is a member-only social club for individuals of the African Diaspora with goals to increase connections, partnerships, and standards of living. Kolor Society is focused on events in South LA and allows members to choose the type of events desired. The society enriches the black community by being a space where people can be authentically themselves with people of similar heritage.

As the founder and organizer, please tell us abut yourself and what moved you to create this community initiative?

Zaneta: I am Social Worker in Los Angeles. I am also the Lead Organizer of TEDxCrenshaw. Every year after the TEDx event, people would ask me to do more events with a hybrid of social, intellectual and cultural. It took me months to plan TEDxCrenshaw so I didn’t think I could plan another event in-between. Finally, growing tired of traveling to Hollywood or Downtown to be around beautiful black people, I thought a renaissance of quality events tailored to Black people in South LA was needed. And thus Kolor Society was born.
Kolor Society’s “Meet & Greet” Event

Why did you decide to organize Kolor Society in the form of a membership club rather than open access for the general public?

Zaneta: Good question. To enhance quality and target individuals who desire a mix of social, cultural, and intellectual.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in fostering a community with Kolor Society, and what do you think are the essential keys to maintaining authenticity in building something specifically targeted to black people?

Zaneta: [The] biggest challenges include a lack of cool bars, hotels and restaurants in South LA. South LA does not have many rooftop spots, restaurants with cool patio seating, and hotels with fly bars. This makes venue scouting challenging. I have to get creative and think real hard.
The essential key to maintaining authenticity is to remain authentic myself. I’m chill, I believe in a higher power, and I live life on my terms. Also, I am born and raised in LA. This city raised me along with its people. It’s home and so I rest easy in that; it also makes moving, shaking, and collaborating a lot easier.
Kolor Society’s “Loyalty” event

Kolor Society is specifically targeted to members aged 25-45. Why was age limit created?

Zaneta: I wanted to cater to millenials and Gen Xrs. I am a millenial so it was important to have something for myself. And Gen Xers are in their prime, living life, building careers and may have a lot to share, show and [cool] ways to collaborate with millenials. I was a bad ass 25 year old. I’m an old soul and have always had friends, mentors, and colleagues significantly older than me. This has helped me in so many ways because I learned so much by just listening and watching. I seek to create something similar with Kolor Society.

What does a Kolor society event typically look like, and what are your goals for expanding your events in the future?

Zaneta: Kolor Society events are blend of social, intellectual, and cultural. We feature a live talk at every event [with experts and industry leaders].  Topics and events are chosen by members or people I’m sitting with in a bar who say, “you should do that.” I just do it and make it happen. I give people what they want.
Kolor Society’s “Loyalty” Event

Your next is August 18th. Can you tell us a bit about it?

Zaneta: Our next event is the Koloring Book Brunch. “Kolor” meaning diversity in the African Diaspora and “Book” meaning stories. In our Live Talk, three speakers will share how they Kolor Outside the Lines in life and business. WE will have brunch provided by a Kolor Society member and a day party with sounds by DJ Wizz Kid. Speakers will be Joy Brunson, actress most recently known for her portrayal of Shauna on the television show This is Us; DJ Hed, co-founder of Homegrown Radio and DJ on THE REAL 92.3; and Kiki Ayers, celebrity PR Agent who was just featured by The Shade Room and projected to be a millionaire in the next two years. It is sure to be an event!
[ Click HERE and use code ‘Strut’ at checkout to attend ]!
Gabriella Layne

Editor-in-Chief of The Strut Magazine

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