Alluvione Lead Founder & President Speak on Empowering & Bringing Diversity to their Annual LA Mixer
Updated: Jul 4
They say it’s not what you know but who you know and in the business world, a connection with the right person can turn an idea into reality.
It’s naive to think that you’ll run into your next business partner in the grocery store or at the post office. Though the task becomes a lot easier when you’re in a room surrounded by like minded individuals who “want more for themselves.”
Wanting more seems to be the recurring theme for Alluvione, as said by the owner and lead founder, Levi Lawrence III.
Raised as an only child, Lawrence was surrounded by family yet still lacked a family connection. He never truly grasped what it meant to be part of something bigger than himself. As Lawrence recalls, growing up he had learned to only take care of himself because that’s all he had.
So how does someone who grew up being self-reliant and a ‘lone wolf’ if you will, create an organization based on seeking connections and providing support for our younger generation and surrounding community?
In an exclusive interview, Gaye Magazine is joined by Lawrence as well as the new President of Alluvione, Stacey Alves to share how both of their upbringings prompted them to take the reigns of such an organization, the key factors that go into creating a successful networking event and why you should be booking your ticket to attend Alluvione’s next networking mixer!
But before you’re convinced, it’s important to know what exactly Alluvione is. Lawrence shares,
“Alluvione is a professional fundraising networking organization that builds and supports ambitious individuals of all ages. We say ambitious individuals because when people hear ‘entrepreneurs’, there’s several different definitions. As an ambitious individual you just got to want more. You don’t necessarily have to own a business or not be working a 9-5. You just have to want more for yourself and push for your ultimate lifestyle."
Seventy-five percent of Alluvione is focused on the youth. We’ve created a program called Alluvione Gives Back (AGB) where we have adults join our community to give back monthly to ‘the pot’, which is where we draw from in order to buy the youth laptops, iPads, pay for their LLCs and websites, etc.”
Alves chimes in stating, “This program is really geared around making sure the youth have the support that some of us that are members never had when we were growing up. We’re in a time where social media is very big. The way that people gain a following, funding or grants is very different then it was 10-20 years ago, so having a community of people (the AGB sponsors) and put money monthly into a pot that supports the youth is an amazing thing. People ask all the time ‘where is the support for the youth’ and we want everyone to know it’s right here at Alluvione.”
I’m curious to know where exactly the term ‘Alluvione’ came from and how it ultimately ended up becoming the name of the organization?
“Alluvione means flood in Italian”, Lawrence explains. “The idea started when me, the co-founder, Eric Jones, and a few of our business partners were heading to a photo shoot down in Beverly Hills. Imagine a group of black men walking down the strip of LA dressed to the nine infiltrating a predominantly white neighborhood. Out of nowhere one of the guys in the group started chanting ‘we out here flooding’!! Now granted, they were just joking around and it kinda became our catch phrase over time. Although for me, I took it very personally. I’m walking down the street looking around and seeing not one black person in sight but then you have these well dressed black men just flooding the neighborhood with black excellence! People were breaking their necks like ‘who are these guys?’ and it felt empowering.
When we decided to put together this organization, of course we had to come up with a name. Everyone was in the group chat throwing out names and nothing was really sticking. Meanwhile I’m over on Google trying to generate some ideas and the idea of ‘flood’ and ‘flooding with excellence’ came to mind again. When you look up alluvione you’ll see a bunch of pictures of floods in Italy but when you look up our organization and access our website, you’re immediately flooded with these examples of entrepreneurship and that business mindset. I was looking up the word ‘flood’ in different languages and Alluvione just really seemed to stick and it was history from there.”
What do you feel makes Alluvione so unique in comparison to other organizations that have the same or similar mission?
Alves takes the reigns and shares,
“First and foremost, both Lawrence and Jones being founders of this organization; they’re both able to independently think on their own and think for themselves. It’s not information being fed into a machine and then spit back out in terms of how Alluvione needs to operate. It really comes from a place of creativity and the dedication to making sure everyone is taken care of. There’s raw authenticity in terms of making this successful that you really won’t see anywhere else. Lawrence does a phenomenal job in making sure that no matter what role you play in this organization or what your position is, the message and the core values transcends through everyone and it creates consistency all across the board.
And to his point earlier, people hear the word ‘entrepreneur’ and they tend to get scared. Let’s be honest— not everyone is meant to be an entrepreneur. Some people are meant to play the background and that’s ok. You’ll have organizations that consider themselves business organizations yet people are afraid to be part of it because they don’t own a business. Alluvione is about looking for anyone that’s seeking growth and wants more out of their lives. We don’t close the door on anyone. Everyone who wants to be part of our team has a purpose and serves as an important piece of the puzzle.”
You mentioned that the door is left open for anyone to be part of Alluvione. In what ways do you feel that you’ve made this organization so inclusive and a place where diversity is welcomed?
With a chuckle, Alves responds,
“We don’t turn down anyone or anything...literally. We always go in with the mindset of ‘how can we empower everyone?’ Whether they’re three years old or 32 years old; all ages, races and sexes have a voice here at Alluvione. It’s really about making sure that we’re in tune with everyone and that everyone is treated fair. Personally speaking, it’s important to me that I work for an organization that supports every community. If we didn’t then I wouldn’t be here.
On Friday, June 25th Alluvione hosted their annual business networking mixer in LA. Given what we already know about typical networking mixers, what is Alluvione offering that makes attending one of these events an authentic experience? What can potential guests expect when considering attending?
“Well one component would definitely be the space”, Alves explains. The venue is an indoor/outdoor rooftop space which definitely adds to the ambiance we were striving to set. It creates an environment that’s comfortable for our community to enjoy themselves. Anyone who decided to grab a ticket decided that they wanted more for themselves and we wanted the venue to reflect that. We even focused on the little things like the seating arrangement. All the seating and tables were set up in a half moon shape to facilitate a space suitable for open conversation and establishing a sense of belonging for everyone no matter where you are in your journey to seeking better.”
Stacey, how do you feel your upbringing prepared you or inspired you to take on such a responsibility to your community?
Alves recalls her mother signing her up for pageants when she was younger and was constantly the center of attention.
“Growing up it was always ‘Stacey in the front.’ When you’re in a pageant all eyes are on you and so I got used to being in the forefront. When I turned 18, I moved out of my parents house to attend college and that’s what truly prepared me to be able to lead an organization like this. While I was in college I served as a resident assistant (RA) which means I was responsible for the students within my assigned dorm building. Doing so prepped me to have challenging conversations and be able to mediate when it called for it. From that point I knew I was a leader. I wasn’t the A+ student and I graduated with a horrible GPA. I was able to point out strengths that people didn’t even know they had so it was never about me. Till this day I’ve remained consistent with that and it shows in my work at Alluvione. My mission is to make sure that the purpose for why we do what we do is there and ensure that it expands to anyone looking to benefit off of what we offer.
Levi, you discussed growing up very independent and struggling to find your place in the world. Often we see that when kids grow up having to fend for themselves, it’s likely to carry into their adulthood where they continue to only look after themselves and no one else. Tell me about the environment you were raised in and how you went from putting yourself first to putting your community first?
“A lot changed for me when I moved from a small town in Texas to living in Memphis, Tennessee. I went from living in a primarily white and hispanic neighborhood to living in a predominantly black city. With that culture shock came the introduction to things like gangs. While people only chose to see the negativity in gangs, for me, I saw a family. People who weren’t related by blood but yet would take care of each other as if they were. Due to my circumstances of being different and coming from a different state, I constantly found myself in fights. In trying my best to fit in and also be protected, I decided to join a gang. The day I joined I never had to fight alone again. I was surrounded by people that let me be me and that’s all I really wanted.
Thankfully, I moved from Memphis back to Texas since I was getting into a lot of trouble but not long after I moved back I decided to run away and [later] lived in a house with a bunch of runaways at the age of 12. I saw a lot of things at the age of 12 that most kids shouldn’t see and eventually I got into deeper trouble. Eventually I was given a decision: get sent to juvie or go live with my dad. Although I made the decision to live with my dad, I was terrified of him. My dad joined the military when he was 18 so you could imagine how hard he was on me. Not to mention he grew up in Inglewood, California so he knew all about gang life. It was for that reason that I never told him that I was gangbanging.
Fast forward, I eventually got my act together, graduated from college in 2012 and a year later I enlisted in the Airforce. Being in the Air Force was the first time I felt part of a real family again since leaving the gang lifestyle. You create life long bonds in the military. It’s just like joining a gang...the only difference is you don’t get jumped in. Once you’re in, both gangs and the military completely reconditions your mind; the way you walk, talk, speak and when to risk your life for those around you. They’re a lot more similar than most people think.
As you can see, most of my life was about finding a family wherever I could and building connections with people. Even though I had no choice but to grow up independent, a family is what I truly longed for. Here at Alluvione, it’s a chance to create a family but to create one of my own where everyone supports each other and thrives off the success of their peers. That’s what Alluvione is all about. A family may not have been what I got when I was younger but it’s what I wanted.”
You’re someone who has clearly beat the odds. From what you’ve explained, you had a rough childhood and made some bad decisions. Statistics show that you should be standing in a very different place right now but you’re not. What advice would you give to a teenager being swallowed into the gang lifestyle? What would you say to him/her to get them to walk down a different path?
“It’s difficult because it’s really hard to get out. They say the only 2 ways to leave a gang is to get jumped out which usually means death or if you move. I was able to escape because I moved from Memphis back to Texas but I got sucked back in because I was so re-conditioned. Even though I moved, people could tell by my mannerisms what I was involved in. Eventually I got called out on it and fell right back into it. Once you’re in, you’re always in.
For me, I think I was just blessed. Every time I had a chance to get out, I took it and that is what I would recommend to anyone getting caught up in the lifestyle. If you have a chance to change your life, do it. That’s what saved me. I didn’t always have a lot of choices and I made a lot of left turns but whenever I had the chance to make a right, I did it. Deep down I knew I didn't belong in this environment and I knew I had something to lose. At the time that I decided to officially leave, I was in college trying to get my degree. This lifestyle could put all of that at risk. When I had the opportunity to leave and I mean leave for good, I took it and never looked back.”
To wrap things up, it seems the Alluvione LA Mixer was a huge success to say the least! Luckily for those who didn’t get the chance to attend, a mixer in Atlanta will be taking place on September 18th (2021). For those sitting at home on the fence about attending, what would you say as your last chance to convince them to come out?
Alves pauses for a moment and responds,
“If you don’t go, you won’t grow. It’s just that simple. When I bought my ticket for the LA mixer it was simply based on the strength of supporting both Levi and Eric. When I started tuning into Levi on live talking about the event I got nervous because I didn’t own a business. I kept asking myself, ‘what am I doing in this space?’ One day Levi invited me on live in order to convince people on why they should be going to this event. I went crazy because once again, I’m so passionate about other people getting the best out of themselves and doing things that make them happy. People loved what I had to say and we sold a lot of tickets that night straight off that live.
For those people saying to themselves ‘I need to do something different with my life because the place that I am right now is the definition of insanity; expecting different results but repeating the same thing’, this is the place for you. What’s the worst that could happen? The thing is, you’ll never really know who you’ll run into at this event. It could be your future investor or your future business partner or even your future wife/husband. There’s so many things that can happen when making the decision to step out of your comfort zone. If you’re looking for more than do something different than you did yesterday and buy your ticket to this mixer. I promise you won’t regret it.”
You’re hearing it straight from Alluvione’s President herself! For anyone trying to grow, this is the place to be. To keep up to date with any and all events hosted by Alluvione be sure to follow them on Instagram or head over to their website for more information.