At first glance, Audrey Bellis might not strike you as a powerhouse, but she has certainly accomplished a great deal. An advocate for women of colour, Bellis is a writer and keynote speaker, a guru in leadership and diversity & inclusion training, the founder of StartUp DTLA, the co-founder of Grid110, the creator and host of the weekly podcast BGR (Brown Girls Rising), and the founder of the Worthy Women Conference Series.
Raised in Long Beach, California, the hustle and vibe of Los Angeles drew Audrey to the big city. Feeling like she was now surrounded by opportunity, and harbouring a soft spot for LA’s downtown core, Audrey began her march towards greatness.
In her own words: “I’m a first generation Latina, empowering communities of women – especially WOC [women of colour] – and helping them to find their self-worth.”
In LA, Audrey found her calling.
The central business district of downtown Los Angeles is also a diverse residential neighbourhood of nearly 60,000 people and, according to a 2013 study, home to over 500,000 jobs. It was here that Audrey founded StartUp DTLA, a community organization that brings tech and creative companies into downtown Los Angeles in partnership with LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and District 14 Councilmember Jose Huizar. But this was only the first step in her actively building a tech community in downtown LA.
In 2014, Bellis co-founded the non-profit fashion tech accelerator Grid110, an economic and community development organization working in partnership with Mayor Garcetti’s office to mobilize the startup ecosystem in LA’s downtown. The program offers office space, accelerator and mentorship programs, and other resources to support DTLA startups during their most critical stages of growth.
Along with Audrey, other visionary co-founders include Megan Sette, Miki Reynolds, Stephen Kane, Justin Wolske, Prashant Samant, and Jared Goodner.
“This place where I meet myself, is the place where I meet you.” – Audrey Bellis.
The combination of caring and resolve behind Audrey’s words is powerful. “We remove barriers to belonging by creating communities where people thrive,” she elaborates. “Worthy Women is a movement for women who want to play big in the world. Too often we play it small or safe, we talk ourselves down from our dreams and second-guess our abilities. It’s easy to forget that the possibilities we envision for ourselves stem from what we think we deserve. To build relationships, businesses, and find our creativity, we must first accept and believe we are worthy of them, because we inherently are worthy.”
These feelings are what drove Audrey to create Worthy Women – a free monthly event series billed as a safe space for entrepreneurial women in the creative and tech fields to learn the best practices needed for success. Worthy Women is also a supportive community of women who forge their own paths as they realize their true self-worth. (More information is available in this video.)
Praise for Audrey
Audrey Bellis’s credits and accolades are seemingly endless. She’s been profiled and quoted in The Huffington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Business Journal, CNN Latino, Bossladies magazine, LA Tech Digest, and more. Her podcasts include Hustle & Rose, Untucked and Hustle Culture, and she’s been published in The Huffington Post, Metro, The Times of Israel and the Morocco World News.
LA and Beyond
From her beginnings in Long Beach to becoming one of the driving forces behind downtown LA’s business revitalization, Audrey Bellis is a person whose drive and spirit is not only compelling, but infectious too.
“You are worthy of being seen exactly as you are, as is, without improvement,” she says. “And you are enough.”
Peter Campbell | Contributing Writer