There is no doubt that South Los Angeles is considered a food desert. Located within an international city, the majority of the population in my community had little or no fresh fruits and vegetables, and our eating habits have changed based on these circumstances.
Naturally, when the idea of opening a salad store in South Los Angeles came to me, I was met with a lot of skepticism. I was told that people in South Los Angeles “don’t eat salads” and therefore, my business would not be successful. I now know from experience that this is far from the truth. I was defying the naysayers, and I became the first black-owned powerhouse in Los Angeles.
Toss It Up started as an idea to make a difference in society while I was working full time as a bus driver. I told my co-workers I was starting a salad company, and one of them suggested I bring my salads to work. “We will support you!” They said. As per usual, words spread, and soon I was selling the salads not only to my co-workers but to members of the community willing to meet me during my bus routes. When the demand became too high to handle, I started researching popup events using social media to help grow new business.
Toss It Up is on a mission to change the eating habits of South Los Angeles residents little by little. Our goal is to make South Los Angeles healthy again, and we do that by catering to locals every day and meeting them wherever they are: on social media.
My COO, Matthew N. Instead, we go to Facebook and get active on group pages with thousands of locals in South Los Angeles to learn from each other in real time.
Facebook groups, for example, provide us with a platform to connect with members of the local community. We were able to share the story of Toss it Up with more than 12,000 black and immigrant families who live south of I-10 via the Buy And Sell Stuff In Los Angeles group. I told them there was healthy food around the corner, and we shared event info for popups in our community and, most importantly, photos of salads. This strategy was both affordable and effective.
We’ve grown a following for this powerhouse in South Los Angeles and now have over 5,000 people who view our products when they open social media, and we’ve done so with little or no money using the digital tools that every company has at their disposal.
Today, about 30% of my sales come through our Instagram page as well as customers who communicate via direct messenger to request an order link. For me, social media marketing is all about testing what’s consistent and using what works to keep scaling. From tagging “South Los Angeles” on every post, using as many hashtags as possible (28-30) to letting new customers find us on our Instagram Explore Page, I do everything I can to become the company you are, everyone can be proud of While offering more healthy options in South Los Angeles.
I hope the story of Toss it Up inspires other black business owners to adopt digital tools to grow their brands. Social media has changed the rules of the game for my business, and it can be for you.
CEO/Founder of Toss It Up
Toss It Up is working to launch its first brick-and-mortar project located in South Los Angeles by the end of this summer. In the meantime, we serve the community at local farmer’s markets like the one that happens on the first and third Saturday of every month in Compton, and Saladpool Sunday every Sunday at the Wellington Farmer’s Market downtown.
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