In this months spotlight series, KERV is celebrating Black History Month by focusing it’s attention on local Black business owners, content creators and entrepreneurs. This week we’re proud to introduce you to Justin Roque of Third Coast Collective.
How did you get to this point?
2015 was a big year for me. I got engaged, got a new job with UT Athletics and on the brink of a move to Austin. It was a welcomed change, as I was feeling complacent in Houston and was in need of a new start. I’d always loved Austin; friends and I would make frequent trips during college. The culture was intriguing, much different from Houston. I was excited for the new beginning. Once I arrived and got settled in, my wife and I couldn’t stay in the house. Hiking, trying new restaurants, paddle-boarding (didn’t know this was a thing!). But one thing was strikingly clear, I was usually the only black person in the space. The more we went out, the more it became evident. Although Austin thrived on many fronts, it lacked in racial diversity and inclusion. Obviously, this was an issue, but I didn’t know how to tackle it or if I could. It took me awhile to find my footing in Austin.
It wasn’t until we took a trip to Oakland where it clicked for me. The friend who we were visiting took me to a function thrown by a local minority-operated collective. The setting was a gritty alley between buildings. The crowd, people from various walks of life and different disciplines. All coming together to exchange culture and tap into something bigger than themselves.
I was hooked. There, Third Coast Collective was born.
What matters most to you?
What matters the most is making an impact in my community. The mission of Third Coast Collective is to create inclusive spaces for minority professionals through diverse events. Inclusion sustains diversity. If people don’t feel like they belong at their work, where they live, or where they socialize…they’ll leave. I want to build that platform where people of color can feel safe enough to disengage and don’t feel they have to code-switch outside the office. I want to help facilitate a space where they can connect with like-minded people that look like them.