Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Inaugural THRIVE Fest Celebrates Creativity, Wellness for Black Business Owners

Panel discussions, fitness sessions, and ample networking opportunities were featured at the festival organized by the Cornrows and Cornbread Collective

Over 100 people attended the THRIVE festival on Saturday, celebrating creativity, wellness and community for Black entrepreneurs. 

Hosted by Cornrows and Cornbread, a collective of artists, entrepreneurs and wellness professionals, the all-day event took place from noon to 6:00pm at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, with two panel discussions, interactive workshops, fitness sessions and a marketplace.

“The festival went well beyond my expectations,” said Karyne Tinord, festival organizer and a founder of Cornrows and Cornbread. 

Tinord, a braid artist and designer, said there were vendors as young as 11 years old that were promoting and selling their goods. 

Vendor Nadine Payne, co-owner of Richly Learning, an independent publishing company that currently focuses on coloring books, said it was helpful to listen to a diverse set of small business owners who emphasized how “your holistic health as a person of color matters.”

The company’s coloring books, which depict people of color, are a way to express yourself and de-stress, said Payne’s business partner Tracey Little. 

For Black children to see themselves for the first time in coloring books can be transformative, Little said. 

“We believe books can change lives,” she said.

Wellness panel with Courtnee Williams ( Moderator and Mindset Strategist), Nikenya Hall (Mental Health and Grief Expert and Author), Mike Howard (Professional baseball player and Fitness Coach, Irv Hyppolite (Founder, Inner U Bootcamp and Performance Coach) and Dr. Ashley Cruz ( Chiropractor and Mobility Specialist, Content Creator). Photo: Supplied/Cornrows and Cornbread, Tyler Jordan

During the panel discussion on wellness, there were many attendees in tears as they heard the speakers discuss grief and loss, as well as tips on how to de-stress from running a small business, Tinord said.

The panel discussion on beauty tackled the thorny issue of how Black beauty should not have to “equate to pain,” according to Tinord. 

“We should be able to show up how we want to be and be fashionable at the same time,” but that can be hard in certain circumstances, Tinord noted.

“We really got down, deep into our souls,” Tinord continued. “Many people said they felt like they were in a safe space to discuss these hard issues.”

The festival also included a seated yoga lesson and a low-impact HIIT session.

A presentation by festival sponsor Adobe. Photo: Supplied/Cornrows and Cornbread, Tyler Jordan

“Everything about the festival was about keeping your creative juices flowing, but the chair yoga session actually got me physically moving, which is hard when you’re running a business by yourself,” said Tori Williams, owner of The Sensual Society, a company that makes body oils and massage oil candles. 

Williams said she left the festival with insight on how to better organize her business and personal life. 

“I am also now more inspired to move and decompress everyday, because that will help me run my business better tomorrow,” said Williams, who was the raffle winner of a one-year subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud software. 

Throughout the day, attendees enjoyed free painless cornrow braiding, hand massages and manicures. Participants also vied for the title of Cornbread Champion 2024 at the cornbread competition. 

Asia Bullock, who was crowned the winner with her honey butter cornbread with a hint of orange zest recipe, said she enjoyed hearing stories from other entrepreneurs, who talked about working a full-time job while trying to grow their side businesses. 

Bullock, a private chef and recipe developer, said talking about how to tackle burnout helped her get to “a better headspace.”

“I felt my cup was full by the time I left,” Bullock said. “It was good to learn how building a team, a network is important.”