“Independent doesn’t mean alone” is the motto behind the movement this Philadelphia, PA-based creative incubator and agency has been building.

Founded in 2015 by Will Toms and Dave Silver, REC Philly (Resources for Every Creator) was created to support self-starting creative entrepreneurs. With nearly a decade of pushing its mission forward, Toms says the time has been spent focusing on what its members need the most in order to flourish.

“REC has evolved and shifted in many ways to make sure that we’re meeting that need directly because obviously when we started we had a big hunch on where the world was going as far as direct-to-consumer and especially what Black and brown creators would need from us in order to be successful,” Toms shared in an interview with AFROTECH.

During the process of building REC from the ground up, Toms expressed that one of the main challenges that he and Silver faced was that people did not understand their agency’s model and concept of resource sharing. What’s more, it was an uphill battle to raise capital.

“There’s been a series of challenges, but I think the blessing of being an entrepreneur is we’re the weird ones who get excited about solving problems instead of being intimidated,” Toms said with a laugh.

While industries have been increasingly picking up on the power of creatives in the entrepreneurial space, REC has already been creating its own unique mark. According to a press release shared with AFROTECH, the members-only club has paid over $2 million directly to its community through the agency.

Keeping the pulse beating on making more of an impact, REC hosted its second annual Creator Day presented by Google on Feb. 24. Toms shared that partnering with the tech giant was not only a “bucket list” moment because of the event, but also since the company allowed REC to maintain full creative control.

“I gotta give kudos to the Google team because sometimes you work with brands, and you have to really over explain and help them understand what’s happening, but that wasn’t our experience with Google,” he said. “[Zuri Godfrey, brand marketing manager at Google], and his team got it immediately and said, ‘We have to support this because it’s just so true to who we are and what we care about.’”

Roughly 500 creatives were provided access to a curated, safe space to connect, build community, spark collaborations, and secure resources at REC Creator Day. Some of the panelists and speakers included Wallo and Gillie, co-hosts of podcast “A Million Dollaz Worth of Game”; Scottie Beam, co-host of podcast “The Scottie & Sylvia Show” and media personality; Tuma Basa, director of Black music and culture at YouTube; and Imani Ellis, founder of The Creative Collective NYC and CultureCon.

Photo Credit: Kahleel Fraizer

“I have admired REC Philly for such a long time, so when I was asked to participate in Creator Day, I was so excited!” Ellis told AFROTECH.

“Our missions to empower creatives with resources and community is so aligned,” she added about the importance of her joining forces with REC.

Photo Credit: Kahleel Fraizer

In addition to panels, REC Creator Day featured activations such as a meditation and yoga room, an open jam session, and  thrifting and customization with Urban Outfitters. Moreover, Toms described the sold-out event as ” for creatives, by creatives,” offering an engaging co-collaborative experience, which is often missing at conferences.


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REC previously announced its upcoming launch of REC Miami, but Toms emphasizes that the agency is prioritizing ongoing work to build its foundation in the city of “Brotherly Love.” However, plans of further expansion still remain a goal.

“There’s no reason why there shouldn’t be 30 or 50 REC cities around the world where folks can tap into those resources and hubs,” Toms said.

He added, “Really, our vision is to build this interdependent network of creative entrepreneurs who can lean on ourselves and each other more than we need to lean on some of the institutions that we’ve learned don’t always have our best interests at heart.”