Elevate Together® Grant gives Miami lifestyle brand a fresh start.
Portia Smith describes her business, Miami Posh LLC, as a lifestyle brand, but it’s her signature product, My Posh Planner, that has opened doors to fresh opportunities.
“It started out as a passion project,” Smith recalls. “I’d been using planners for 15 years, and I would use several different planners at one time, one for budgeting and a journal for gratitude. But I could never find one planner that did it all.”
Smith’s multifunctional and all-inclusive version includes a budget planner, gratitude journal, and manifestation journal. It also notes the dates of all national and international holidays on the calendar to appeal to her diverse customers. She says the manifestation message on the cover is intended to inspire and bring out the best in her customers.
“When someone tells me that the manifestation message changed their life or that the budget planner helped them save money for a new house, it makes me feel that I do belong in this business,” Smith says.
Miami Posh launched in 2008 as an online clothing boutique initially, but as customers’ tastes and needs changed, so did Smith’s business model. Today, her business focuses on three areas: a marketing services agency; retail e-commerce, where she sells her planners and other office products; and her Miami Poshcast, which discusses the latest fashion and lifestyle trends. She chose the name Miami Posh to honor the southern Florida city where she was born and raised.
“I wanted my products and services to reflect the diverse culture of the people living here, but bring it to an elevated level,” Smith says.
Before starting Miami Posh, Smith worked at several media outlets and regional magazines, working her way up from marketing strategist to marketing director. After taking time away from her career to complete her MBA and care for two young daughters, Smith had difficulty re-entering the workforce because of the gaps in her work history. That prompted her to start her business.
As she traveled to networking events, Smith noted a lack of diverse representation and points of view in various business circles, which made it difficult to win new clients. However, people close to her believed in her business idea, including her brother who passed the planner along to a friend who worked at Office Depot. It eventually wound up on the desk of Carmen Deale, Senior Program Manager for Supplier Diversity.
Deale encouraged Smith to enroll in Elevate Together®, a nonprofit initiative powered by Round It Up America®, designed to address systemic discrimination and historical racial disparities in business growth and profitability in Black and Hispanic communities.
Through a partnership with the National Urban League’s Entrepreneurship Centers and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the initiative helps support Black and Hispanic small businesses with five or fewer employees. The ODP Corporation (parent company to Office Depot) is the initiative’s founding partner. The NCR Foundation also supported Elevate Together® as a corporate partner in the initiative’s foundation year.
Smith received a grant from Elevate Together®, which enabled her to cover business expenses, hire designers, and develop several new products, including a wedding planner and a bucket list planner. “When I won the grant, I felt validated that my product was unique. I knew there was nothing else like it on the market,” Smith recalls.
The Elevate Together® program led to a mentorship with The ODP Corporation Supplier Diversity Department. Smith credits Deale and Patricia Clarke, Supplier Diversity Specialist, for helping her develop her capability statement and refine her business idea.
“We looked at where she was in her business and where she wanted to go, as well as the areas that needed improvement,” Deale explains. “Portia was like a sponge, eager to learn, connect with others, and grow her business.”
Deale was instrumental in getting My Posh Planner in front of several organizations. Based on their feedback, Smith developed a smaller 5-inch-by-7-inch version that was distributed at trade shows and to several nonprofits. “I see her business continuing to grow and eventually move into retail outlets beyond our organization,” Deale says.
Supplier development is a key initiative within the Supplier Diversity program. In addition to providing mentoring to Smith, the team partnered with the Florida State Minority Development Council to sponsor her first-year, national minority business certification.
“They helped me get connected to the right people in the industry and within the organization. Their commitment to diversity and inclusion inspires me to support other companies with a similar dedication to inclusion,” Smith says.
Through her ongoing relationship with the Supplier Diversity team, Smith attends sponsored Business Opportunity & Exchange conferences and participates in panel discussions with the company’s Associate Resource Groups. “Even after winning the grant, I still feel like I’m a part of The ODP Corporation family,” Smith says.