Taste of Soul vendors attend the 2nd Annual Taste of Soul Vendor & Partner Appreciation Reception (Photo by Mesiyah McGinnis)

The 13th annual Taste of Soul once again proved why it’s the #1 family festival in Southern California featuring some of the best vendors around. On Thursday, November 1, vendors were invited to the second annual Taste of Soul Vendor & Partner Appreciation Reception at the Museum of African American Art on the 3rd Floor of Macys in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.

Sponsored and hosted by City National Bank, the reception was held to celebrate the amazing collaboration of food and non-food vendors and partners who make Taste of Soul an economic empowerment engine that over 350,000 people attend annually on Crenshaw Blvd. Food and beverages were served by Hawkins Catering and music was provided by DJ JiJi Sweet.

Monique Jones Colon, owner of Sarili Ko Oasis, which is Tagalog for “Take Time To Love Yourself.” Sarili Ko Oasis sells organic sugar scrubs, salt scrubs, body butters and oils. This was her second year being a part of Taste of Soul and she spoke a little about Taste of Soul.

“It was very profitable for us and I am so grateful to Taste of Soul [who] gave us this opportunity to make our business known within the community,” said Colon. “We’ve got reoccurring customers and new people that we were able to touch in our community.
When asked about the vendor appreciation reception, Colon stated, “I appreciate it.

L.A. Sentinel, L.A. Watts Times and Taste of Soul Staff (Photo by Mesiyah McGinnis)

“It let’s me know that it’s not just one way—paying it forward, you are reciprocating the love and we’re family and I’m just grateful to be a part of it.”

“As a vendor, it lets you know that you are appreciated,” said Lanier Edwards, owner of Heavenly Delights Gourmet Cobblers.

He has been with Taste of Soul for 9 years and stated that each year, he’s been too busy baking cobblers to really take in the family festival but is grateful for it.

“It’s a phenomenal event,” said Edwards. “The only thing is, I wish it would be two days instead of one day.”

Pamela Bakewell, COO of Taste of Soul/Bakewell Media and Danny Bakewell, Jr., executive editor of L.A. Sentinel & L.A. Watts Times newspapers, greet guests and begin the program. (Photo by Mesiyah McGinnis)

Marion Singleton of Child Evangelism Fellowship was also happy to attend the vendor appreciation reception. They are a ministry that reaches out to children and teaches them core values based on the Bible. This was her second year at Taste of Soul and she spoke about her experience this year.

“It was absolutely fantastic—no problems, 350,000 people? No problems,” exclaimed Singleton. “That’s Jesus!

“It was a beautiful day, beautiful event and everyone was just so happy and blessed to be together. A lot of times, people say that Black people can’t come together—Taste of Soul is proving that to be a falsehood, we can.”

Karen A. Clark is the senior vice president and multi-cultural strategies manager of City National Bank Crenshaw Branch and she spoke about the evening and her love of the community.

City National Bank representatives pose for a photo at the 2nd annual Taste of Soul Vendor & Partner Appreciation Reception. (Photo by Mesiyah McGinnis)

“I just love the vendor appreciation reception because I think the vendors do so much work for the Taste of Soul,” said Clark. “I just think sometimes people take them for granted—people forget the real people behind the booths.

“I think this is a great event.”

Clark also shared her feelings about City National Bank being located on Crenshaw Blvd and how they look forward to serving the people in the community.

“We love being a part of the community, it’s been a win-win for the community and City National Bank,” said Clark. “I am so proud in my company to be able to talk about the Crenshaw Branch and what we’re doing here and the clients that we have—and the community itself.

“When we decided to open the [Crenshaw] Branch, I said we are putting a historic bank in a historic community. It’s a 70-year-old bank with a very, very proud tradition and this is a historic community with a very, very proud tradition.

“City National Bank is known to many as the bank to the stars and Black folks are stars—so we brought the bank of the starts to some very special stars.

“We have 90 colleagues that live in the Crenshaw District, so we are very proud to be here.

“It’s like being home for us.”

“The feeling of family at Taste of Soul is real and it only gets better each year,” said Pamela Bakewell, COO of Taste of Soul/Bakewell Media.

“The spirit of love and respect along Crenshaw Boulevard and the support for our vendors & small businesses makes Taste of Soul the economic engine that impacts our community far beyond the day of the family festival.

“We love our vendors and appreciate the professionalism they bring to Taste of Soul.”

L.A. Sentinel and L.A. Watts Times managing editor, Brandon Brooks speaks with vendors. (Photo by Mesiyah McGinnis)

Patricia’s Unique Boutique offers custom bling apparel and t-shirts. Owner April Burnett stated it was her second year attending Taste of Soul and added, “it was amazing, we had an incredible time.”

As for the vendor appreciation reception, Burnett replied, “top notch, one-hundred percent, top notch.”

“I wasn’t expecting this when I came,” said Keith Tate about the vendor appreciation reception. “I’ve been to appreciation [events] before and they just come and thank everybody for being there and then you go home but this was great being able to hear about other vendors [and] what the Sentinel is doing in the community.

“I’m excited about being able to get the online subscriptions to the Sentinel.”

The reception is held to celebrate the amazing collaboration of food and non-food vendors and partners who make Taste of Soul an economic empowerment engine. (Photo by Mesiyah McGinnis)

This was Tate’s first Taste of Soul and vendor appreciation reception representing Transamerica Financial Advisors, Inc.

“It was unbelievable,” said Tate about Taste of Soul.

“It was just the most incredible event that I’ve ever done—just to be out there with the community and the families, to be able to interact with them in all different ways.

“It was awesome.”

Special thanks to the Museum of African American Art and board of directors member, Berlinda Fontenot-Jamerson for hosting the event. A special thanks also to food vendor, Hawkins Catering and DJ JiJi Sweet, who kept the music playing all evening.
Thank you.