New black-owned business incubator hosting big events for Essence Fest


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The space is for coworking, incubating small businesses, and building communities.

NEW ORLEANS — On bustling St. Charles Avenue in the Garden District, Maroon is getting to work. The space is for coworking, incubating small businesses, and building communities.

“We opened our doors in February of this year,” said Maroon CEO Jawan Brown-Alexander.

Brown-Alexander and her sister, Maroon Founder Jade Brown-Russell, are excited to expand their community as Essence Fest comes to town.

“It definitely will allow us to build and grow on a bigger stage. This is the biggest stage in New Orleans outside of Mardi Gras, outside of if we get a Superbowl,” Brown-Alexander said.

Maroon is hosting three of its biggest events this weekend, hoping to draw in crowds in town for Essence Fest.

Friday, they’re holding a talk with the Freedom Riders Dodie Smith-Simmons, Don Hubbard, Matt Suarez, and David Dennis Sr.

Saturday is a heart-to-heart with Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, and poet and activist Sunni Patterson.

Sunday is a day party with local DJs, food trucks, and drinks.

The free series was produced by Blair Dottin-Haley of The Blairisms and sponsored by Tito’s Vodka and Haley Law Firm. It fits right in with Essence Fest’s focus on entertainment and culture.

“Especially in the Black community, focusing on Black joy is one of my mantras as a producer,” Dottin-Haley said.

“We’re excited about the enrichment and the empowerment that we hope to come from the folks that we’re bringing to Maroon for the community.”

Outside the hospitality industry, though, small businesses like Maroon are benefitting too.

Throughout its decades in New Orleans, Essence Fest has been a huge summer economic driver for the city. 

It’s expected to bring in about $200 million this year.

Hotels downtown are expected to be about 90 percent full Friday and Saturday nights.

“We definitely feel like it’s here for the culture. For New Orleans culture,” Brown-Alexander said.

You can find more information about the events at Maroon this weekend by clicking here:

By diana