Prosperity Market founders Kara Still and Carmen Dianne, sit down with Ariel D. Smith of the Food Truck Scholar to discuss food access in minority communities, and how their vision of fostering economic impact within these neighborhoods led to the creation of Prosperity Market’s all-black farmers market pop-ups, the upcoming Market trailer, and LA’s first Black Business Scavenger Hunt.
Ariel D. Smith, M.Ed, 0:00
What’s up everybody, welcome to the food truck scholar podcast, brought to you by EatOkra, I’m your host, Ariel D Smith, and I appreciate you, for choosing to kick it with me for yet another episode. For many of us access to fresh fruits, vegetables, and food products are something we take for granted, but for many in the United States, neighborhoods that have no grocery store in walking distance. Access to mostly processed foods and poor quality fruits and vegetables are the norm. Prosperity Market is out to change that, starting with Los Angeles, and then the nation founders Carmen and Kara, have a vision for what a society could look like, where food access is for everyone. For all my listeners who have wanted to start a mobile farmers market, this episode is for you. Also, pay attention to details about their scavenger hunt, and to helping them raise funds for their trailer. But for now. Sit back and relax. The show starts now. Are you a food truck, app event organizer, manufacturer, or industry stakeholder that needs to get the word out about your food truck product, service or next event, the food truck scholar podcast is now open to sponsors for individual episodes, and seasons, visit the food truck scholar.com or today’s show notes to apply to be a sponsor. Welcome back to the food truck scholar podcast, let’s dive in to the main dish discussion. Alright everybody, if there’s one thing that I love it’s food and then the number two thing is a cause, and so when you bring them two together, It makes my heart happy, so I was so excited to be talking to Prosperity Market in Los Angeles. Carmen and Kara, how are you doing.
Carmen Dianne, 2:18
Good, Yes. How are you?
Ariel D. Smith, M.Ed, 2:21
I’m out here, it’s summertime so I’m feeling pretty good, I’m feeling pretty good. So I want to know a little bit more about prosperity market and then how did you all get into the whole fresh food farmers market produce nonprofit just give me all the details, y’all.
Carmen Dianne, 2:41
All right, so prosperity market we are a mobile farmers market. We’re actually a farmers market on wheels and a food truck in once we’re both components and we feature Black Farmers food producers and chefs. And then we’re based in LA and we were fundraising for the trailer right now so it’s not here at the moment, but when we have it we will just travel all over LA, making it easy to support black businesses, particularly our food businesses, and also we can go directly into communities that don’t have grocery stores or just healthy options. We can do both of those.
Kara Still, 3:14
And while we’re fundraising we actually are doing monthly pop up markets in different areas so in order to keep that mobile context, monthly we’re popping up in different areas in LA. We’ve been everywhere from Crenshaw to Malibu and a few places in between. And so we make a weekend experience of our pop up, farmers market so on Fridays we do a 24 hour virtual market where you can order from our farmers and food producers and schedule contact was pick up on Saturdays we do an in person farmers market where you can come and shop and have a full prosperity market experience. And then on Sundays we always do a produce giveaway in South LA.
Ariel D. Smith, M.Ed, 3:52
Oh my god, I was so excited, already, and I know there’s gonna be some listeners gonna be over excited to hear your story because I can’t tell you how many people over the past two years, especially that have inboxed me that have messaged me, that actually wanted to do a farmers market that was mobile, and that they wanted to reach out to different communities that they’re not just food deserts, but honestly food apartheid, that we have in many different communities and neighborhoods and cities. And so, I’m just so excited to dive more into this, and so how did you all both come into this space, in terms of, we want to make sure that we provide food to chefs to neighborhoods to communities, how did this all start,
Carmen Dianne, 4:36
it was, this is a pandemic pivot, if you will, prior to the pandemic and quarantine, I was still I still am a makeup artist, but that’s what I was doing working in TV and film, and not in the food world at all, and over quarantine so we saw the push to support black businesses and we really wanted to contribute there we wanted to contribute, economically, and we realized that you know lay our businesses are few and far between so we wanted to make it easier to support, especially our food businesses, we don’t have very many grocery stores, those are very few and far between black owned grocery stores, and so we figured this was a good way to create that impact there with food.
Kara Still, 5:18
Yeah and it started with Oh, make it easy to support black food businesses and then really became as we kept moving forward and kept researching it became this. Oh, we can take how spread out we are in LA, and make it easy to support our food entrepreneurs and go to different areas so that everybody can have the opportunity to contribute, and then it became, and also we can go into the areas that are continually denied the food access that they deserve. And so it really became this two part kind of foundation of contributing economically, and also creating food access.
Ariel D. Smith, M.Ed, 5:57
And so let’s dive more into food access because when we talking about food, there’s so many terms that people use they use food justice they use food sovereignty they use food access they use the food deserts they use food apartheid, and for some people they were like, Whoa, those a lot of times, they all got food and but I don’t understand the difference, it prosperity market, how do you define food access
Carmen Dianne, 6:24
you’re right, there’s that when we dove into this world, because not coming from this world, we’re starting to do our research and we’re learning about all of this, and we’re like food insecurity and all of the stats and what all of that means and what’s considered a food desert, quote unquote, and I think for me I just simplified, there are communities that do not have grocery stores, for reasons that are by design. And that’s where we can create impact we could bring this fresh fruit and vegetables and produce and healthy affordable food, and to the neighborhoods that don’t have it.
Ariel D. Smith, M.Ed, 6:58
I love it. Short, simple straight to the point, and accessible in definition I appreciate that. And I really want to go deeper into something that you said that was by design because what a lot of people don’t understand is that at one point in time, there were many black owned grocery stores in neighborhoods, there’s so much conversation that says why don’t we create this why don’t we create that. It’s not that we didn’t have it at one point in time, there were things such as urban renewal that took away a lot of the heartbeat of many black neighborhoods, grocery stores being one of them, there’s just so much structurally bad happened to decimate so many black neighborhoods that when we talk about health, the overall health of black America we cannot talk about that and not talk about food access we can’t not talk about the lack of grocery stores we can’t talk about the lack of access to fresh foods and fruits and vegetables that are not within walking distance. So, we have to have these conversations about, if we’re going to say, eat healthy. We’ll do we have the resources for that. And has it has the resources have been taken out of communities, how can we work towards getting that access back. So, these are the things that I really want my listeners to grapple with, because I got listeners from all different backgrounds and I want them to understand when you’re hearing some of these stats in the news when you’re hearing some of these stats on Facebook or social media wherever you get your news or your information, you have to question the why behind all of this, and what I love about the work that you’re doing, is that you’re being part of the solution, but you’re also bringing us or making us look at why is this a problem in the first place.
Yeah, I think everything you said is spot on, and that’s something that for us. We wanted to make sure that we represented and brought into question for people to look at and think about that may not usually think about it, and then I actually just want to add in terms of like grocery stores and food access. And you said there, there were so many flourishing black neighborhoods and communities at one point, add on top of that were there were also a lot of black farmers at one point, that’s right. To locally provide that food as well. So that’s another thing to throw into the mix that we really found when we said we wanted to do a farmers market, and people that sometimes say, if you bring the healthy food into certain neighborhoods, then, you know, people won’t buy it and people won’t eat it, and it’s a learned pattern, and it becomes habitual, so that after a certain point when these things are intentionally taken out of neighborhoods and removed then habits are put in place, such that, in order to reverse it, we have to reverse the habit, and even just something as simple as, quote unquote, simple as having a conversation about grocery stores in neighborhoods, insurance premiums are incentivized or lower if they’re not in certain areas, rent is higher in certain areas. So, a grocery store could say, and grocery store margins are already very tight, a singular grocery store is not making hand over fist money, if they’re just doing a simple grocery store. So if they get incentivized or have less insurance or lower rates to move five miles up the street. And that’s five miles from another grocery store, they’ll do it because it benefits their bottom line. Meanwhile, the neighborhood that they move five miles away from has grocery stores 10 miles out on each side, and what are people supposed to do to access their food, one of the things that Carmen and I ran into when we were saying hey we want to become a farmers market is even just local farmers, there’s a lot of farmers, up north in Northern California, but not so many in Southern California anymore. And one of our goals is to really create a ripple effect in our local ecosystem in our local economy. So we had to look to local food producers, because we want to be able to directly impact all of the people that are around us financially and nutritionally.
Ariel D. Smith, M.Ed, 11:11
Yes, I just want to add to something that you said about the exposure and whatnot so when I went to UAB I honestly went there, We did not have a grocery store within walking distance. And now here’s things that people want to, I don’t think enough people think about is that a lot of colleges, many that I went to did not have a grocery store, and walking distance. Yeah, a lot of universities don’t want students to bring their cars especially freshmen, because parkings always a hassle so if I’m supposed to be walking everywhere and you don’t want me to bring a car or for many people who don’t have a car I was one of the people that did not have a car didn’t get one until later in life, almost what I supposed to do about food
Carmen Dianne, 11:56
That school meal plan that’s what they want you to do, I’m gonna go to that school meal plan, I’m gonna go to the hungry Howie’s I’m gonna go to the subway, I’m gonna go to the McDonald’s. I’m going to go wasn’t walking distance and my friends who have cars where they’re gonna go. They’re gonna go to those fast food places so we really have to have a conversation about access, not that I don’t want it, but it’s not around me to even be an option is then we also have to have a conversation about affordability there’s people that go both sides and say, it’s actually not that expensive. However, we want to eat like fresh stuff that can be a challenge so I’m very grateful that you’re making this accessible to get people to understand that it’s not just about whether or not someone would eat it is more about we have to have it in the proximity of people first and foremost, because that is a battle that we still have to fight nationwide.
Kara Still, 12:56
And one of the really great things that about prosperity market and about the farmers and the food entrepreneurs that we’re with most of the time if anybody’s gone to a farmers market you can engage with the growers and the people that like make the food right there. And one of the things that we’re so proud of it prosperity market is like all of our growers and our food entrepreneurs are so willing to not only share their food, but also share their knowledge and their writing everything from how do I cook this to them giving you them giving you recipe ideas to, how easy is this to maintain like some of our growers, also because they are all entrepreneurs and have their own businesses, helped other companies, organizations and individuals start their own gardens, and all these different things to really empower each other, to say okay, this isn’t in my usual wheelhouse or realm of what I’m comfortable with, how can I make it makes sense for me to try and experiment because I think that’s the other thing, meeting people where they are even Carmen and I like sometimes it’s like, oh, like, I’ve never even seen that in person before. And so, what can we do with that, how does it work so that it’s not so intimidating you plop something down in front of someone and you’re like, well go ahead take it, it’s free, it’s good for you. But how does that actually fit in your life. So both of those things I think are really important and that nutrition education part is something that’s important to us as well for all of the people who are connected to prosperity market.
Carmen Dianne, 14:23
I was gonna say we’re learning along the way, right along with this I’m learning from our farmers, this is just as much for us as it is for our communities too.
Ariel D. Smith, M.Ed, 14:31
This is really near and dear to my heart in this moment because I’m at a point in my life where I’m having to revisit a lot of my health and lifestyle choices, because it’s about that time, He was like wait, its just eat healthier, I was like, what does that look like you have to be a little bit more specific, and so do your research, ID, I’m a PhD student, I’m pretty sure that I look things up, but when I do look things up, everybody contradicts the other person. And what happens is that I get overwhelmed I eat this or do that. And the next thing you just in a downward spiral. You know what, fries.
Carmen Dianne, 15:09
When all else fails!
Kara Still, 15:11
Right, you like it, it’s easy…one of the things so something that’s important to me, Carmen said, she’s a makeup artist, I am a fashion designer, that’s where the world of where I come from before prosperity market. And one of the things that’s always been important to me, is health. Now, I’ve gone, had my own like up and down journeys with the way I take care of myself physically, I think we all are most of us who are not in the world of like health and fitness to some degree regularly have had that experience of being inundated with all this information about what we should eat what we shouldn’t eat what’s good for us, what’s not, I am personally, plant based vegan, no animal products, whatever you want to call it, Carmen is not, and that’s fine either way, but it’s like at the end of the day. All this stuff is so confusing and to eat more fruits and vegetables, has never killed anyone starting there it’s really for me, that’s how I look at it, there’s no agenda, Except for us to take care of ourselves, and nobody ever said, hey, you’ve had too many vegetables today. So, that’s the way I look at it is we, again, it’s that meeting people where we are. If you sound like a very busy person. You travel a lot, you do a lot of things, and it was like, oh yes fruit has sugar but it grows that way. That’s the way it comes out of the earth besides like just swapping one thing for the other end those tiny things, at least that’s the way I look at it for myself. That’s the way I look at it when I have conversations with other people, Because it comes out of the earth that way it’s a fruit, it’s a vegetable, chances are it’s, it’s not going to be bad for you. Now when you look at other health, when people have health restrictions and stuff like that’s different. Oh no, don’t even Apple. I don’t think that’s nice. Yeah, just keeping it simple, have the fries and that’s my life a lot of times yes I had those fries and I also had an apple and some greens too, like just both things it’s fine nobody it doesn’t, it’s sometimes,
Ariel D. Smith, M.Ed, 17:20
Live your best life!
That’s it in a healthy way, the best we can. And we just want to show up to help you have options you may not have had before.
Ariel D. Smith, M.Ed, 17:34
And this is just beautiful. So give us a timeline so we know this start from the past two years, but what was it like saying okay you know what, Carmen and Kara are alright we gonna link up, boom, we’re gonna get this done. Just what was that initial idea what was the energy around it take me back to that moment.
Carmen Dianne, 17:58
I laugh because This story is, it’s Yeah. Every time she tells the story I laugh right.
Ariel D. Smith, M.Ed, 18:04
Oh, I’m sorry. Let me get my water.
Carmen Dianne, 18:07
If so, we were already there was just so much happening, everyone was protesting and we were trying to figure out our own way to create impact and for me, I didn’t feel like protesting was it I think it’s important and I think people needed to do it, but also I feel like, Y’all got that covered and I wanted to figure out like, what’s next, what’s it What can I do what’s next and it really economics that kept coming back to me. I was reading power nomics by Dr Claude Anderson and I was in a couple other books like just really revolutionary books I was in that mindset. So I was in this makeup program. So this one day. I’m in the program and they’re talking makeup and it’s just one, I can’t think about makeup I’m just like, thinking about everything that’s happening in the world right now. And in my mind, like grocery stores, we need black on grocery stores and I texted my friend, literally, I was like, We need black on grocery stores okay by and she’s probably like what but I just didn’t want to forget it I needed to get it out. And, and I have a timestamp now I sent that text on June 1 at 1pm on 2020, and since then it that kind of turned from this blanket statement of we need grocery stores to a farmers market to a mobile farmers market to. Now, this Farmers Market on wheels and food truck and one, and it just continues to grow.
Ariel D. Smith, M.Ed, 19:30
I love the timestamp, I always love time scale. So we are one I had to go back and find that text like When did I need to just know this. I love it. So what made you all decide okay we’re moving from grocery stores to okay now we’re gonna look at the farmers market, and then we’re going to take it mobile so what was the decision to look specifically at farmer’s markets, that’s the first part of the question. And then the second part of the question is why did you decide to go mobile?
Carmen Dianne, 20:06
Grocery stores are a lot like Okay, maybe we’ll start here with the farmers market that’s digestible,
Carmen Dianne, 20:15
And the reason that we wanted it to be mobile is because if you want to support black businesses we want to make it really easy to support that businesses so LA is very spread out. So if we want to reach like if you live in the valley there not very many black owned options around you or if you live on the west side or if you live there’s, there’s really South South LA South Central is where the bulk of the majority of our businesses are so if you don’t live in those neighborhoods, chances are for you to go out of your way, if you have to get on the four or five, or the 10 or any of the highways in LA is a lot. So we wanted to travel so that each neighborhood can have its day of the week, or will be there, they can support our farmers and our vendors and other businesses, and it became mobile because it was just going to move around, it turned into an actual trailer because in makeup like in film in production you work out a trailer so we have makeup trailers we have crappy trailers, which is our snap their production trailers, and I kept thinking about this one shoot that I had and we had a really nice crappy trailer, like you could walk in, you can make your snacks I spent a lot of time there just like he could do something like that. And so that’s how it developed into the mobile Farmers Market.
Ariel D. Smith, M.Ed, 21:32
And so now we’re creating, like the ultimate custom snack trailer.
Ariel D. Smith, M.Ed, 21:42
I love this. The wheels are turning…
Exactly. And the other part of it is, it really expands our farmers and our food producers reach the markets that we’ve had, even before the trailer, just the fact that we pop up in different areas. They have created customers and reach people that they would not otherwise reach outside of the neighborhoods where they grow, and so it gives our food producers and our farmers, a chance to expand what they’re doing. It gives them a larger customer base, they’re, they’re able to grow more one of our growers she’s now looking at ways to get a bigger gardening space because her demand has grown so much, because people outside of her neighborhood have now discovered what she’s doing. And if this is what she does full time so things like that, when it’s like, we can be a farmers market for everyone, and also provide food access in our commune so that we have that economic impact, as well as that, the health impact with food.
Ariel D. Smith, M.Ed, 22:45
What I also love is that you’re supporting farmers but also have seen you on social media support black restaurants in general so I would say as some of my favorites that I’ve been to LA, a couple of times so I saw some of my faves on the list, and I’m happy to contribute some more.
Carmen Dianne, 23:05
Yeah, so what we’re doing actually for August, because I think because this really came from a place, initially of like economic impact. So we were thinking about businesses, how we can support businesses create more businesses and circulate the dollar I think that’s the important part. And then we, we realized how we could do that with food and then we realized how we could also create food access at the same time so it was just like check, but we still very much want to empower all black owned businesses. And so for Black Business month, August, we’re doing a black business scavenger hunt, we’ve got, like, probably over 30 businesses participating, and each week, we released clues that will lead you to these businesses so you want to solve the clue you go to the business and then you check in and you get points for all of the businesses that you discover, and you can win prizes which you will get at our pop up Farmers Market at the end of the month, on August 28.
Ariel D. Smith, M.Ed, 24:01
This is the type of scavenger hunt, I would win. You would! Listen, any other type of hunt, Easter egg hunt was never good at that, never, never, never did, I found maybe one or two little eggs just wasn’t great. Other scavenger hunts riddles clues, weren’t all that great, but I know that everybody has their calling and I have found and answered mine. Y’all just be thankful I’m not in LA right now because I would be the winner. nobody else would have a chance… Hands down. Yes, nobody, no one. I love it!
Carmen Dianne, 24:40
We should have you read a clue.
Kara Still 24:41
Yeah, because we do video clues and then we post them. we can have you read a clue we can post it. That would be great.
Ariel D. Smith, M.Ed, 24:50
Let me do it!
Kara Still, 24:52
We can send it to you to record.
Ariel D. Smith, M.Ed, 24:54
I got this! Let me do it, I totally got it, I would love it would be so much fun. It’d be amazing.
It was really interesting because at the end of each week since we’re doing this Carmen and I’ll go to the businesses and take them, the collateral like their flyer for the like check into our code and stuff like that, because each week we’re having different businesses participate. And so last week when we were going around to the businesses, one of the owners was like What’s so great that you reached out and you’re doing this so you’re just doing this out of kindness? We were like, Yeah, We just wanted to create a fun way to support and bring awareness to black owned businesses and just connect with each other and make something fun, he was like, Oh wow, you’re just like doing this just because? And we’re like yeah that’s it like really just because. And it’s those kinds of reactions on the fact that people are like oh my gosh, that’s a great idea. It’s so fun, it really is about creating a support system and a community and creating connections so that we can support and grow one another, and making it fun. Yeah, and it is fun
Carmen Dianne, 26:03
and I’ve gone to all the businesses you know I’m checking up on this scavenger hunt, but also like I’m hungry and I might want some coffee or I might so they’re getting a lot of my dollars.
Ariel D. Smith, M.Ed, 26:13
hey this is what we do, this is what we do so. Now here’s the thing that I really want to talk about because you’re a nonprofit right.
Essentially, we’re a for profit, we’re looking at being nonprofit, and we chose to find a structure to become be a for profit entities so that we can more quickly and readily have the economic impact that we want to have. So, now what we do have is we do have a fiscal sponsor, we have a nonprofit connection, and in the future we will have a nonprofit section of prosperity market outright, but we really wanted to make sure that we could as quickly as possible, create the economic impact we want. And so it took some research and a lot of figuring things out, but we actually are a for profit entity so that we can be that much bigger of a support for our, our vendors and our food producers,
Ariel D. Smith, M.Ed, 27:14
I’m pretty sure a lot of people are going to hit you up, I get so many questions about how to start a mobile market and so many people like to ask me the nonprofit do I need to do this, do I need to do that so I think you’re going to reach a whole different group of people through this podcast, simply because there are folks out here there want to do the same thing in other places I’ve had people from New Jersey from Indianapolis from a lot of different places, reach out that this is something that they want to do because this is a nationwide problem, that so many people see so many, so many more people need to see, there’s a whole lot of work that needs to be addressed there so just in getting started and how to start and where to go. I think that is going to be beneficial and I know it’s gonna vary to some extent based upon your city, your state and your county, but if you are willing, what was some of the steps that you had to do in terms of getting this off the ground,
Carmen Dianne, 28:11
man. It was a lot of steps and it’s all like one big blur right now, but the first six months, probably from June 1 until January was all research, and then our website went live in January. So within those six months, we started out thinking nonprofit, because honestly, that’s what you think about if you want to create impact you just automatically think you have to be a nonprofit, but you don’t. So having a fiscal sponsor is a good way to still be able to receive the benefits of a nonprofit, you’re basically borrowing someone’s nonprofit status. So you can still get all the grants, people can donate and get the write off like the 501 C three letter, but your structure is still how you structure it, if people are torn they’re struggling there I would suggest looking into them, it might not be for you but it might be something to look into.
And even if someone wants to be a nonprofit because the process takes a while just filing all the paperwork getting all of the approvals, but sometimes you can actually as a nonprofit, get a fiscal sponsor of a another nonprofit, so that you can operate doing the work that you’re doing while you’re waiting to get your official status. So that’s an option as well. And so for us, we are a for profit entity but like in terms of the categories of businesses, we would be categorized as like a social enterprise, because we’re a for profit entity with a social mission. So that’s what allows us to be able to easily operate in both spaces, and so have it work, and it definitely was a lot of research, even just for us because we’re not a traditional market, there was a lot of looking at what the structures take but we encourage people to examine all of the options in terms of nonprofit for profit and what kind of structures would work, and I just personally want to say, even if you’re a nonprofit, you are still a business that’s right it’s such a stigma of hearing nonprofit and thinking, you have to operate with low margins or you can’t be profitable and generate a lot of income, and that is all not true with a nonprofit, it’s not that you can’t bring in, loads of profitable income, it’s that it’s very specifically regulated on what you do with that money. So, a nonprofit is still very much a business, and I just encourage people to like, still approach it with the same creativity and zest and willingness to generate profitability, and marketing the same way. It’s not like a lowly little humble know you’re a business and an organization and you still want that impact, it just varies with the way you can use the funds, when you bring it in. And for us we chose to be for profit, because we knew that a large part of our mission is community partnerships, and organization partnerships as we build our platform for our farmers and our food entrepreneurs, and so it was best for us at the beginning to be for profit, so that we could make the connections we need to make, and not have to like worry about a stepping on any regulations, being a nonprofit, and it just, it worked out that way for us and so we’ll create a prosperity market nonprofit leg. Later on,
Ariel D. Smith, M.Ed, 31:26
and I will be talking to you, because I got way, I got so many questions and ideas. At the same time, I was just so excited about, you’ve been able to make such a great impact within a short amount of time like it made I feel like it’s sort of outside of y’all because y’all been through the fire getting this done, but from 2020 is like coffee stores we need grocery stores to do we are right now coming up in last part of 2021 It feels weird to say the last part of 2021 It really is who we are, don’t think it’s 2022 got a lot going on, but you’ve done so much within a short amount of time when you reflect back each of you on where you started and where you are now, what is a memory that stands out to you as this is why we do what we do that on your worst day when you’re stressed out, you think about that memory and it makes you smile and it keeps you going.
Kara Still, 32:26
For me, a couple things come up, because Carmen and I’ve had a lot of, especially within the first six months, a lot of days where we were like, doing so much research and preparation and things like that where we sometimes just didn’t want to sometimes we were excited about the things we were finding cold calling people all this stuff, even to the point of so many hours that we were like drunk with laughter, like, one of the things that was really exciting was like when our website went live. That was a moment where it was like, oh my gosh like now people can go to a place and see what we’re creating, I think one of the really big moments of joy and exhaustion was our first market. So we’ve done five now so thankful and grateful to have had so many different people contribute to us in different ways from actually like hands and boots on the ground, helping set up to different pieces of information and did you that these i’s and cross these T’s and at one point Carmen and I’ve applied for a standing next to each other and looking around, and it was like we did this. Yeah, like we this is happening we did this, and we had several people say, oh my gosh I never would have thought this was your first market. I don’t believe it. It’s so nice, where we had the, the market, the first time we had a church in Inglewood, they had, like, really large parking spaces. And one of the pastors of the church came over to us, and he was just like, I love what you’re doing, we want to be able to support you. We want you to be able to come back, and he was like, this is the kind of stuff that I want my daughter to be able to see, looking around seeing people that look like her, having the two of you be black women creating something in our community and being someone that she can look up to. And it was like, wow, and that was our first market, and since then there have been so many different moments where it’s even strange like people we don’t know that have been following our journey have come up and said things and having conversations with some of our growers and and stuff like that, that, that have made such a difference but that first market experience. Oh my gosh, we did this was very surreal. And yeah, that was that for me was like, Oh no, this is real now, like we’re doing this,
Carmen Dianne, 35:00
I would have to second that. And our last market that we had was Juneteenth, and we had at the same location we had an enemy in central and Inglewood. And that was also a really special moment because just like we saw the growth that we had, like we started there and we came back there it was Juneteenth. It was also my, the day before my birthday it was my birthday weekend, and I think all of those moments just it was just really powerful to say it and that was a year of conception, because I guess it was just a lot and it made me realize that if we can get here to this point right now, everything that we want to do is so possible, like it’s all so we like we have reached we could touch it, we just have to keep going there.
Ariel D. Smith, M.Ed, 35:46
And you’re gonna do it. I have all the belief and confidence in the world, that it’s going to happen. And when you close your eyes you’re like okay what are the things that I want prosperity market to be, what are those things,
Carmen Dianne, 36:00
that’s funny that you say that because that’s actually how we named prosperity market, we didn’t have a name for a long time, and I was talking to a friend and I’m just like, I need a name and she said, Okay, what do you, when you think of the market like what do you see, what do you want it to be. And then immediately like the first thing I saw the first word that came to mind was prosperity. So, in prosperity ever since. So now when I close my eyes and I think of prosperity market I see, I see this as a franchise, we’re not stopping at one truck will have several trucks, I want every city to have a prosperity market that will affect their local ecosystem we can take this same concept and put it in every city and then we could continue to just create all the impacts circulate the dollars, there’s more but I think
this thing has branches legs wings, but definitely that because it’s like Carmen said we want to impact each City’s local ecosystem and local economy and their local food systems, and also empowers other entrepreneurs, the reality is, everybody may not want to start from scratch the way we did, but once we get it off the ground, you can bring prosperity market to your city, and it can be something that you oversee and you do in your area and your neighborhood, and it’s exciting to think about that like Carmen and I are both from the East Coast, we’re both from Maryland. And so, being able to think about something that we started in LA, that we can also have reach home is a really exciting idea, and then there’s a lot of stuff in the background too just with growing our impact with like farmers and like food businesses that we want to work on and really helping each other, and other black entrepreneurs to have a full quality business. One of the things that I think we saw that’s become very important to Carmen and i is, as we work with different businesses because our basis is a farmers market and food truck. And when we do our stationary pop ups, we do have a few, a handful of other non food businesses as well because we’re able to expand depending on the size of the area we’re in. But what we got to see as we’re talking to all these different businesses and entrepreneurs is everyone is at different levels. And so through what we are doing. They’re learning about how to like market themselves and position themselves and display themselves. And so the other thing that definitely for me is exciting to see is how we will be able to help businesses develop themselves as they expand because we’re a platform for them to see how they’re doing and grow.
Carmen Dianne, 38:48
Yeah, yeah. What I also see happening is in our trailer, you come in and shop our trailer, the farmers won’t be there on a day to day when we’re just operating the trailer, but I see it is a hub where people can come and find products like, you can start in prosperity market and you can then go to Whole Foods or target or other shelves because we’re like, cultivating this it’s a, how do I say this
Ariel D. Smith, M.Ed, 39:14
Like a launching pad or incubator almost
exactly, yeah, yeah,
Carmen Dianne, 39:19
Kara Still, 39:21
And and you have that established like oh no I have a following, I have an audience because I’ve been with prosperity market, I built up myself my reputation I have a customer base, I now have a brand image and then they can expand their business as well.
Ariel D. Smith, M.Ed, 39:37
I’m just excited. I’m just excited, and I know we’ve talked about the trailer is gonna be some of the most amazing snacks but I can’t wait to get my hands off, but I gotta add Okay, have the food trucks got a podcast I have this question So what has been some of your favorite products or snacks from the trailer so far. Okay.
Ariel D. Smith, M.Ed, Carmen Dianne, Kara Still
LA Times Shoutout
Prosperity Market Juneteenth Pop-Up
Click link below to read interview by JEAN TRINH
ABC 7 News
Malibu, California | Prosperity Market
Prosperity Market- It’s A Farmer’s Market on Wheels!
"I speak from experience when I say this farmers market is like no other. I’ve been to both pop ups and I’ve had the best time. It feels intimate in a way. You get to know these vendors and their product and how it came about, they are so friendly and kind. I get excited for the next one just so I can see the vendors and see what new things they have but also share what I did with their product. A few of my favorite vendors there are : Farmer Ken, Ah he has the most beautiful lavender, pineapple mints ( yes, they smell incredible), eggs, tea."
Los Angeles Magazine Interview | Prosperity Market Connects Angelenos with Fresh Produce–and Social Change
Los Angeles Magazine Interview
Prosperity Market Connects Angelenos with Fresh Produce–and Social Change
Click link below to read Los Angeles Magazine interview by LaShea Delaney. Published April 28, 2021.
Shoutout LA Interview
Meet Carmen Dianne: Prosperity Market – Founder
Click link below to read Shoutout LA spotlight interview On prosperity market. This feature was in part a follow-up from Carmen’s May 2020 Voyage article on her talents as a talented Hollywood makeup artist.
Creating a sense of urgency to give black farmers a Platform
Hosted by Evan Kleiman Apr. 23, 2021
Click link below to listen to interview by Gillian Ferguson On prosperity market founders.
Los Angeles Times
The seeds of a mobile Black farmers market are sprouting
Kara Still and Carmen Dianne, aim to help L.A. residents support Black businesses through a mobile food truck and farmers market. The plan is for the trailer to travel to different Los Angeles neighborhoods as a convenient way for people to support Black businesses with their purchases. It also will make appearances in low-income areas, with the goal of offering free nutrition education, cooking classes and grocery giveaways.