In a remarkable display of community support and collaboration, Lupe Tlatenchi, owner of Los Angeles small business GTLA Apparel, experienced an unexpected moment of generosity. The Los Angeles Rams, a professional American football team, in partnership with telecommunications giant Verizon, organized a networking event and panel discussion with a surprise for Tlatenchi. The event was aimed at enlightening representatives from over 35 Certified #RamsHouses on the advantages of the Verizon Small Business Digital Ready program and the abundant resources that are available to bolster their enterprises. 

Amidst the gathering, Lupe Tlatenchi was met with a delightful shock. She was granted an impressive $10,000 to fuel her small business, courtesy of the Verizon Digital Ready program. This grant stands as a reflection of her commitment to advancing sustainability and equity within the fabric of Los Angeles manufacturing through her innovative apparel brand. It is a significant step to bring a sustainable change in the fashion industry. 

Justin Watson, a Super Bowl XXXIV Champion with the Rams and an accomplished entrepreneur, was present at the event. He lent his expertise to moderate a panel discussion and Q&A session. Here, Tlatenchi, alongside representatives from other local Certified #RamsHouse small businesses, shared insights and experiences of their entrepreneurial journey. Shanita Nicholas, co-owner of Sip & Sonder, and Gustavo Chavez, proprietor of Carnitas El Artista, also offered valuable perspectives at the event. Their voices served to highlight the transformative impact of Verizon’s Digital Ready program on their respective ventures. 

Daniel Butler, senior manager of Verizon’s corporate social responsibility strategy, emphasized the significance of empowering small businesses, particularly those lacking in advantages and opportunities. Expressing his happiness about the partnership between Verizon and the Rams, Butler’s words at the event reflected a shared commitment to reaching and supporting one million small businesses by 2030. 

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For Tlatenchi, the journey toward sustainable and ethical business practices began in 2017 when she established her fashion factory. She recounted feeling isolated initially until she joined Verizon’s program. According to her, the program provided her with a supportive network of like-minded individuals and invaluable resources to grow her venture. 

The Verizon Small Business Digital Ready has emerged as a guiding light for small businesses navigating the digital landscape. This program offers a comprehensive suite of online courses, mentorship opportunities, peer networking, and expert coaching to help local businesses thrive. Notably, engaged users who complete at least two courses on the platform become eligible to apply for the coveted $10,000 grant. The grant provides a lifeline for selected small businesses annually. 

Simultaneously, the Rams’ Certified #RamsHouse program, launched in 2020, has galvanized support for local businesses across the Los Angeles region. With a focus on Season Ticket Member businesses, enterprises in Inglewood, and Black-owned and Latino-owned establishments citywide, the program has transformed into an initiative for fostering a sense of community pride and solidarity. Since its inception, over 75 local businesses and 40 small enterprises in Inglewood have benefited from the program’s unwavering support. 

As the small business landscape in Los Angeles continues to evolve, initiatives like the Verizon Small Business Digital Ready program and the Rams’ Certified #RamsHouse programs are becoming small businesses’ fuel for growth. This empowers them to thrive amidst challenges and build a roadmap to sustainable prosperity.