Whitney Middlebrooks, the founder of Black Luxe & Co.
Entrepreneurship is a pathway to empowerment, representation, and community building. Don’t believe us? Just ask Whitney Middlebrooks, the founder of Black Luxe & Co. Black Luxe & Co., a marketing agency that also hosts an annual Black-owned business expo is more than just a marketing firm or a marketplace; it’s a celebration of excellence, community, and the pursuit of dreams. With a national reputation that draws vendors and guests from all over the country, Black Luxe & Co. is redefining what it looks like to support the business community in High Point. And when it comes to the inspiration needed to make this vision a reality, Whitney still draws on the investments made in her by her hometown leaders, while growing up in High Point.
Her journey to creating Black Luxe & Co. is deeply rooted in her upbringing and experiences. Growing up in High Point and attending T.W. Andrews High School, she was nurtured by a big family that instilled in her a strong belief in her worth and creativity.
“I could explore anything I wanted to do,” Whitney reflects, laughing at how convinced she was a child that she would become a famous singer. But throughout her childhood, Whitney found a place to belong in the High Point community, at the Carl Chavis YMCA (formerly the Washington Street Enrichment Center). From touring nationally with the YMCA step team to receiving mentorship from Carlvena Foster, to touring colleges all over the east coast (before eventually deciding to attend HBCU Winston-Salem State University), Whitney still attributes much of her success and many of her long-standing relationships to the experiences she had growing up in High Point.
“Those things shaped me 110%,” Whitney reflects. “They are why I am so dedicated to community now, because I know what those things did for me.”
Creativity and conversation, combined with a passion for social justice, have been constants in Whitney’s life. She delved into blog writing after school and studied marketing and public relations in grad school – eventually landing a job as a media representative for a large publication. But her comfort with social media and online presence stems from her innate desire to have a voice and make a positive impact.
“Being online, having a voice, that’s always been a part of who I am,” she says. “I’ve always had very close to my heart various cultural issues. My family was very big on that… asking questions and being inquisitive. That’s a very natural trait of mine.”
And it was from that desire to have a voice and ask questions that would prompt cultural change that Whitney eventually decided to use her strengths in marketing and communication to start making a difference in her community. The spark for Black Luxe & Co. came from that desire to counter the negative narratives often perpetuated by the media. During her years in grad school, Whitney was heavily influenced by the Black Lives Matter movement and recalls how she felt after the death of Trayvon Martin.
“It really shook me up,” she says. Eventually, this was part of what inspired her to envision a platform to highlight excellence and positive stories within the Black community.
“Black Luxe & Co. was a place where people could come and highlight excellence,” she says of the vision for the expo. “Let’s have this platform be the good stuff!”
Black Luxe & Co. started in 2020, partially just as a lifestyle blog and place to highlight positivity in her local Black community. But it eventually blossomed into the Black Luxe & Co. Expo, an event that just completed its fourth annual event in the High Point community. The expo, which is a free trade show open to the public, is the largest Black-owned business Expo in the Triad and attracts vendors from eight different states. The event’s purpose is multi-fold: businesses get exposure and the chance to sell their products, but they also get the chance to connect and network with other vendors and attendees.
With more than 100 Black-owned businesses at the expo, live music, and more, the event has garnered attention from all over the country. Other expo presenters often ask Whitney how they can host a similar event. But Whitney doesn’t just look at the number of attendees or sales made when she qualifies what success means for Black Luxe & Co.
The Black Luxe Expo featured over 100 Black-owned businesses from all over the country.
“I measure success on experience,” she says, noting how many vendors thank her and appreciate the approachability and personal nature of the event and her staff. “The success is the human connections.”
She is also very vocal about the fact that she was intentional about hosting the event in High Point. Not only does the event introduce High Point to a variety of new visitors and business owners, but also introduces those entrepreneurs to High Point.
“It also is the opportunity for High Point and other entities of High Point and businesses outside of Black-owned businesses to capitalize on these amazing entrepreneurs and businesses that are traveling here,” she says. “You never know what somebody can be.”
The event, which is held at the High Point Theatre, also opens up the doors for people to experience a place they may previously have not before. Having grown up in performance arts and worked at the High Point Theatre for an arts internship in college, Whitney says it makes her emotional to see so many people experience a space like the theatre and feel welcomed into the space.
But most of all, Whitney sees the Black Luxe & Co. Expo as an event that has the potential to change the narrative of entrepreneurship and community in High Point. Whitney knows firsthand the power that business and communication have when they work in tandem to uplift a community.
“I’ve seen a clear difference in the connections of how High Point is growing,” she says, citing the way our entire community has grown to be inclusive and kind in our invitation of all voices to the table of entrepreneurship and business. She mentions partnerships with others in the city like the Buy Black Guide, Visit High Point, High Point University, Forward High Point, High Point Public Library, and even local health organizations.
And in the time since she has launched the blog and the expo, Whitney has had an influx of requests for marketing services, so she’s expanded her business to include marketing agency-based services. Not only does she have the expertise to make businesses successful from a marketing perspective, but she uses that voice of creativity she’s been given to encourage people to ask themselves questions about the representation and inclusivity they have in their marketing campaigns.
“Those very basic things of what did that picture look like? What did it represent? What language was used?” she asks rhetorically.
“I measure success on experience. The success is the human connections.”
Whitney Middlebrooks, the founder of Black Luxe & Co.
In hindsight, Whitney can see how her life up to this point has led her to Black Luxe & Co., and led her back to the hometown that first gave her the courage to fly.
“The Black Luxe & Co. Expo will be included in that conversation for people in North Carolina to know about,” Whitney says, believing that events like this give High Point one more point of pride for eager visitors and residents alike. She sees this event connecting the entire community together – regardless of race, age, gender, or generation.
It’s with this vision and the desire to leave a legacy of excellence in the Black business community that Whitney pulls her motivation.
“I’ve had a lot of heartache and confusion and, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing with my life,’ in all those years in between,” Whitney says. “It was waiting for this moment… I’m in my purpose now.”
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