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Santa Monica Black-Owned Businesses and Entrepreneurs (Part 5 in a Series)

July 28, 2020 10:00 AM
by Erin Taylor

Santa Monica Black-Owned Businesses and Entrepreneurs (Part 5 in a Series)

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 small business owners throughout our City and how the Santa Monica community can provide support.  This is Part 5 in a series. If you are a Santa Monica business, and you’d like to add your story, email   

On a related note, the City of Santa Monica is working with community members to create a Black Agenda as part of our commitment to equity across our city.  Get involved and find out more>>

Part 5 in a Series

Karen Gunn is the Principal of Gunn Consulting Group (GCG), a Sole Proprietorship, which assists clients in achieving their organizational goals.  With a foundation on the intersection of social justice, equity and wellbeing, GCG focuses on leadership, organizational, and management development for clients from private sector businesses, non-profit agencies, educational institutions, and community-based organizations. Read more about her story and unique perspective about owning a business in Santa Monica>> 

Business Name:  Gunn Consulting Group

Business Owner:  Karen Gunn, Ph.D., Principal 

Brief History:  Gunn Consulting Group (GCG) was established in 1983 in Los Angeles, CA. GCG has provided a wide array of consultation services to hundreds of organizations and thousands of employees across the United States. Clients have included private sector businesses, non-profit agencies, educational institutions, Executives, and community-based organizations. 

Company Mission:

Gunn Consulting Group is committed to building organizations and communities that can optimize their outcomes through knowledge, effective skills, and best practices. It is our objective to assist clients in achieving their goals as they make a positive contribution to social justice, equity and wellbeing.

Guiding Principles – 4 C’s:

  • Client-Centered Actions
  • Context-Sensitive Applications
  • Collaborative Design
  • Creative Solutions 

What types of products/services do you offer? 

Leadership, Organizational, Management Development in the following areas:

  • Training and Facilitation
  • Strategic Planning
  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Executive, Management and Life Coaching
  • Diversity-Inclusion-Equity Initiatives
  • Market Research

Why did I decide to open a business here? 

To be completely honest, I opened my business in Santa Monica in 2015 as a matter of convenience and downsizing. My office was in the Hancock Park area of Los Angeles for almost 30 years. My Hancock Park location had the benefit of a top-floor, multi-office suite, underground parking, beautiful view of the Hollywood Hills at an affordable price per square foot, accessible to public transit and freeways. That is not what I could possibly have gotten in Santa Monica with the same space and amenities at a similar cost.

Interesting Facts about your business:

My first stab at being a business-owner was to form a partnership that included my father, also a psychologist. My first contract was through his connection and referral to a Federal government agency. He also handed off to me his contract with one of the few Black-owned insurance companies in the country – Golden State Mutual Life Insurance headquartered in Los Angeles. My small business was a small version of black legacy-building more often the privilege of white family business owners that brings me a smile of pride. 

Gunn Consulting Group made a commitment to utilize a strong, diverse roster of Associates which continues to this day. 

I have been able to build a business that is perfectly suited to combine my degree in community and organizational psychology with my commitment to social justice, civil rights, and equity. The services I provide and how they are executed match my training and values. 

How can the Santa Monica community support you and other Black owned businesses?

  • Promote and raise the visibility of existing Black businesses
  • Embrace and address the need to grow Black business ownership in Santa Monica
  • Create a platform/options for networking between Black-owned businesses and those interested in owning businesses and market this information within the city and across Los Angeles county to cultivate interest and support
  • Include black business owners in business-community events, forums, etc.
  • Document (through data collection) and address what Black business owners indicate are their needs, desires, and obstacles encountered starting and/or maintaining a business
  • Examine the businesses in our city and with whom the city does business in terms of their business practices, customer relations, workplace and Board representation, products, etc., as it relates to diversity-investment-treatment-accessibility-fairness (for Black community specifically).

What information do you want the Santa Monica community to know?

That Santa Monica is a city with very limited opportunities and an exceedingly small welcome mat for Black businesses which is in stark contrast to the “progressive” picture that is portrayed. There is a very steep uphill challenge and cost to locate here such as available real estate, price per square foot, obtaining essential financing at fair rates. There is, what I’d call, an essentially impermeable old boys (and girls) club of networked businesspeople who benefit from and perpetuate a scenario of limited access, opportunity, and partnerships. Good intentions have not created substantive positive impact. 

The Gunn Consulting Group is a registered sole proprietorship with a business license in the City of Santa Monica and the City of Los Angeles and part of the Los Angeles County Community Business Enterprise (CBE) Program.  Gunn Consulting Group is a Minority Business Enterprise and Women Business Enterprise. 


2663 S. Centinela Ave., Suite 504

Santa Monica, CA. 90405

Hours of Operation:

Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

By appointment

Contact Information: 

(310) 367-1354 |

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