How Instagram Brought Black Creatives and Small Businesses Together to Collaborate on Visual Storytelling

During what has become a continuous cycle of lockdowns and uncertainty in the last year, many people have discovered an increasing need for creative inspiration and a deep sense of purpose. My personal reflections have uncovered a desire to be helpful to others, while also navigating my career leading Instagram business marketing in North America and staying true to my roots in the Black Community. The most rewarding moment I had recently involved the merging of those three passions.

To help small business owners and creative professionals harness the power of creativity, our teams at Instagram and Facebook Elevate partnered with The Creative Collective, a creative agency committed to creating space for people of color, to launch We Create. Our goal was simple: Find a way to inspire and support Black creatives and Black-owned small businesses during an economically challenging time. In this first round, we partnered 15 business owners and 15 creatives to solve unique business challenges with Instagram-first content. Being able to overcome geographic distances to forge connections between Black professionals and witness the formation of lifelong bonds made every virtual meeting feel like a victory.

One of the first participants in We Create was small business owner Kwame Garrett-Price who struggled with differentiating his luxury accessory brand Cal & Kay from the competition. Because each product was designed to last for life, Kwame wanted shoppers to feel like they were part of a community. To help expand Kwame’s digital footprint, creative director, photographer and author, Josh Renfroe spotted the opportunity to bring in visual storytelling.

I sat down with Kwame and Josh to get insight into their partnership and discuss how their creative collaboration helped solve Cal & Kay’s business challenge.

Guia Golden: Josh, what were your initial thoughts and approach to the Cal & Kay challenge?

Josh Renfroe: One of the biggest opportunities that stuck out to me was the need for storytelling. I’m a big storyteller and love expressing things visually. I appreciated the freedom that Kwame gave me to be curious and experiment with storytelling to bring a new dimension to Cal & Kay.

And Kwame, tell us about your first reaction to Josh’s Instagram-first visuals and Instagram Reels that were created for your products.

Kwame Garrett-Price: I was definitely taken aback and said, “Wow, he’s really in my head.” To me, the creative was a unison of visuals from movies like Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Boomerang and Poetic Justice. I attribute the creative’s success to our clear communication and trust.

Your trust in each other is amazing. How did you two navigate the virtual creative process together? 

Renfroe: It all came down to having an amazing partner who was enthusiastic, trusting and willing to experiment with bold ideas. That’s the greatest recipe for success. I can’t stress enough how the trust we established early on made this possible. Over time it felt like collaborating with my brother. And Cal & Kay is a family business, so I’m an honorary family member.

In the early years of a business, it can be lonely with a lot of heavy lifting. … but when you bring in a collaborator, that extra set of eyes can be immediately discerning.

Kwame Garrett-Price

Garrett-Price: Josh, you’ve been inside my home so much [virtually] you may as well stay here. I completely agree, our open and honest communication was essential. In this world, we’re all going to have to learn how to work together whether it’s 10 or 10,000 miles away. The only way to do this is to keep communication clear. Josh and I laid it all out on the table and were transparent about everything.

What did you take away from this experience that you will look back on in the future?

Garrett-Price: For me, it’s the value of collaboration. In the early years of a business, it can be lonely with a lot of heavy lifting. You may feel unsure of what decisions to make, but when you bring in a collaborator, that extra set of eyes can be immediately discerning.

Renfroe: Amen to that. When you’re working with talented individuals who are truly committed to a project, they’re bringing everything to the table. That’s the type of creative Kwame and I are, and our success was inevitable.

We Create shows the impact that major platforms, such as Instagram, hold in the creative community and how these platforms can intentionally support creators. I’m very grateful for Instagram giving us this opportunity. I hope the Instagram team continues to do more projects like this because your influence and resources make a huge difference.

Kwame and Josh’s experience demonstrates the opportunity creativity provides to differentiate businesses and strengthen our emotional connections with people. To learn more about tapping into the power of creative collaboration on Instagram, visit We Create’s website.