Our nation’s approach to celebrating Black culture over the last year has been viewed as a performative trend that’s just catching up with us, but for founder Trell Thomas he’s also been ahead of the curve.
Last year in April, Thomas — an entertainment entrepreneur and founder of the Black Excellence Brunch — was gearing up to launch his collection of Black Excellence Boxes as a means to honor the Black-owned businesses he’s long since admired.
“I had been thinking about this [idea] for awhile, before supporting Black businesses became trendy,” he told AfroTech. “I remember being at ESSENCE Fest walking past all those booths and I was so inspired by all these Black entrepreneurs that I was seeing.”
As an extension of his mainstay brand, Thomas came up with a plan at the start of the pandemic to send out curated-boxes filled with products from Black-owned brands similar to other subscription box companies like Birchbox.
The purpose of the special-made boxes was to both celebrate Black entrepreneurs and the work of their businesses as well as provide a fun way for consumers to discover new Black-owned brands to support.
“I really wanted to make us as Black people feel celebrated, special, and loved,” he said. “This was the perfect time to just send a gift full of Black-owned businesses to celebrate the excellence that is us.”
Thomas was so successful with his new business model that when Amazon was gearing up to release the highly-anticipated film sequel, “Coming 2 America,” the company tapped him to create a collaboration that reflected what the movie stood for.
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“Amazon wanted to really uplift ‘Coming 2 America’ as a Black film and also support as many Black creatives and businesses as possible,” Thomas shared.
Together, both entities created Black barbershop-themed boxes and sent them off to influential stars in Hollywood like Terrence J, Marlon Wayans, Dwyane Wade and many more.
Over the last year, Thomas has expanded his new brand to help introduce roughly 80 different Black-owned businesses to consumers. Prior to creating the Black Excellence Boxes, he had already made a name for himself as the curator behind Hollywood’s Black Excellence Brunches.
“The Black Excellence Brunch was modeled after the concept of Sunday dinner,” Thomas revealed. “Growing up it was such an affirming, beautiful, uplifting space. It was the first time I really got a chance to soak in the beauty of being a Black person. I really wanted to recreate that for my friends so they could feel the love and warmth of Sunday dinner through the Black Excellence Brunch.”
Thomas — a South Carolina native — came up with this idea that was inspired by a long-standing Southern tradition to “bring Black Excellence to the table.” His ambitious effort was a way to show brands how they could support and get involved in the culture by directly connecting with creators and social media influencers in the industry who are “moving the needle, carrying the torch, and birthing the next generation of Black excellence.”
Over the years, Thomas’ curated event series has attracted the likes of 20 different major brands, including Netflix, Facebook, Warner Bros., Cantu, TBS, AT&T, and most recently Disney Plus.
As far as future plans go, Thomas hopes to take his brunch events international to encourage others to host their own events where they’re bringing Black excellence to their neighborhoods.
For more information about Thomas and his businesses, follow him on Instagram.