#49 - Moving from Passion to Purpose with Aisha James


When Aisha James set out to create an event celebrating Black-owned businesses in St. Louis, she didn’t think she’d end up running the largest Black-owned food festival in the Midwest. 
Even while spending her days working as an Operations Manager in the banking industry, Aisha finds time to fuel her passion: bringing together St. Louis’s Black community for a weekend of culture, food, and celebration, The Taste of Black St. Louis.  
But coordinating this large-scale annual event on a shoestring budget is no easy feat. “I’m considered the little guy that makes big numbers,” says Aisha. And she’s not kidding when she says “big numbers” — in just five years, the culinary festival grew from 16,000 to 83,000 attendees. 
On this episode, Aisha and host Dave Charest, Director of Small Business Success at Constant Contact, discuss the unique communication challenges of planning such a big event and how technology helps her to remain organized—while also keeping her day job. 
Listen to learn the importance of developing calendars and timelines, seeking customer feedback via surveys, and leaning on segmentation to craft highly targeted and specific messaging for a variety of audiences.
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Meet Today’s Guest: Aisha James of The Taste of Black St. Louis
🍽️ What she does: Aisha is the founder of The Taste of Black St. Louis, the largest Black-owned food festival in the Midwest. Formed in 2018, the multi-sensory food experience was created to bring local communities and visitors together for a full weekend of culture, tasting, and shopping while shining a light on Black-owned businesses. The event has grown from 16,000 attendees to 83,000.
💡 Key quote: “Remember why you started. Understand that there’s going to be so many bumps in the road, but always remember why you started and stay true to that.”
👋 Where to find her: LinkedIn | Instagram
👋 Where to find The Taste of Black St. Louis: Website | Instagram | Facebook 

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