July 7, 2020 4:00 PM
by Erin Taylor
We recently interviewed a variety of Black-owned Business Owners in Santa Monica to hear their unique story and perspectives. Read on to hear about these amazing small business owners throughout our City and how the Santa Monica community can provide support. This is Part 2 in a series. If you are a Santa Monica business, and you’d like to add your story, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
On a related note, the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce will be hosting “Santa Monica Black Leadership: A Business Community Conversation” on July 9. As the nation engages in a discussion on racial justice, and the City of Santa Monica embarks on the creation of a Black Agenda, join the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce for a conversation with some of our region's top Black leaders. Register Here>>
Part 2 in a Series
Local Historian and Community Activist Shares Her Enthusiasm for Santa Monica’s Black History
Photo by Halline Overby
Robbie Jones, born and raised in Santa Monica, is owner of Black Santa Monica Tours and Concierge. Robbie has been giving tours of Greater Los Angeles since 2004 after friends and family started asking her to share her enthusiasm and expertise for local Black history. Read more about her story>>
Business Name: Black Santa Monica Tours and Concierge
Business Owner: Robbie Jones
Brief History: My grandmother owned property in the Pico Community so as a child, I knew Santa Monica was a vibrant community. I didn’t realize this community had so much black history, though. I starting hearing the history from elders and I started getting excited. Why isn’t this history being told? Honestly, it was as the community started loosing people that I realized that the history must be preserved. As obituaries started piling up, I realized that everyone was connected. There were pockets of people in Santa Monica originally from Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas. It was all very interesting, and I wanted to tell that story.
What types of products/services do you offer? I started offering tours for my family and friends in the late 1980’s. We went all over Los Angeles and would always work our way back to Santa Monica. I realized I was so excited about this history that I had to do this. Friends started asking if would offer a tour to their family, and it grew into a business of offering group bus tours and concierge services for families, schools, and more. You can take a history tour and actually learn, enjoy and have fun! I am also working on a virtual tour of Santa Monica’s Black History so that the kids can use this as well.
Why did you decide to open a business in Santa Monica? My family’s history is here, and I have always been intrigued by Black history. I really felt like we needed to tell the story that helped build this beautiful beach city.
Interesting Facts About Your Business: My business/Black History is the best kept secret in Santa Monica. It’s so great because I learn new things about Santa Monica and Black History from other people who take the tour! I get excited when I learn about other people, nationalities and cultures, and when different cultures interact or tour participants exchange phone numbers.
What is an interesting aspect of Santa Monica that people might not know? I’ve been a member of Philomathean Charity Club at 18th and Broadway where we give $70,000 in scholarships to African-American students every year. This organization of Black women is in its 98th year. They own a barber shop, beauty shop and a school on the property. My grandmother brought me in, and I’m happy to be a part of it.
What information do you want the Santa Monica community to know? I would love to see other Black owned businesses come to Santa Monica. When I take people on my tour, participants ask where are the Black products and restaurants. I always send them to Los Angeles for entertainment and personal products like hair products. I don’t want to, but as a concierge, I want to recommend places that will treat individuals well and with respect like everyone else. I also want to make sure they feel comfortable going into the business.
How can the Santa Monica community support you? Take the tour. Tell their friends. Bring groups of people to take the tour.
What else do we need to know about you or your business? I love Santa Monica. I was born and raised here. I raised two children here – all Santa Monica schools—and have actively participated in a wide range of community organizations. There is a vibrant African American History here. People in our community are valuable assets and there are sole proprietor businesses—please support them!
With the new City Council Black Agenda, this simply means equity and inclusion. We live in a beautiful city, and we can all work together so that everyone can learn from each other and support each other.
In spite of COVID and all of the horrible things that are happening to African-Americans across the country, African-Americans are some of the most welcoming people. I love seeing the millennial generation solve the problem. We are all in this together.
Contact Information: Call Robbie at 310.928.5891
Hours of operation: By Appointment
Senior Marketing Manager