Filmmaker Jessica Sarowitz Re-defining the landscape of LA’s Creative Community with Stocker Street Creative
LOS ANGELES – And just like that! Jessica Sarowitz is the woman re-defining the landscape of LA’s creative community through philanthropy, filmmaking and social impact investing. She’s a mother, wife, executive producer, entrepreneur, social impact investor and founder of 4S Bay Partners LLC, based in Chicago. More importantly, she’s changing the scenery of South Los Angeles and the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Corridor with the redevelopment of the Stocker Street Creative (SSC) redevelopment project in Baldwin Hills. As a multi-racial woman of color and immigrant, Sarowitz seeks out projects around the world that directly benefit people of color with much-needed facilities and resources. She works in collaboration with communities in need to create transformative opportunities and experiences.
“As a multi-racial woman of color, an immigrant, and a social impact investor, I am committed to projects that help level the playing field by providing economic development and growth to underserved communities around the country,” said Sarowitz, founder and managing partner of 4S Bay Partners LLC. “At 4S Bay, we look for projects that will contribute to changing structural racism and inequalities, as well as build a wealth-base ecosystem where all members of it can prosper.”
She added, “Stocker Street Creative will be an inclusive place where members of the local creative community can develop projects that tell their own stories authentically, and without diffusion.” The vision of SSC is to create a community-focused creative campus, consisting of entertainment, technology, and TV/film production studios. 4S Bay Partners has assembled a local diverse African American project team, comprised of development and design experts from within the community, that is working to make SSC one of the most innovative and exciting projects “reimagining” the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Boulevard Corridor. The plan is to remodel, construct, and transform a 5.12 acre block along Stocker Street, which currently consists of medical, nonprofit, and office buildings with the addresses of 3731-3761 and 3701.
With its proximity to Leimert Park, the SSC development will become a centerpiece in an area of South Los Angeles that is considered the center of the community’s creative economy and African American entertainment culture. Upon its anticipated completion in 2024, SSC will be one of the first redevelopment projects of this magnitude in the Los Angeles area. With a project of this magnitude, it’s a woman of color and an immigrant leading the charge of SSC. For Women’s History Month, Sarowitz shares her thoughts on being a woman in a male-dominated industry; finding her voice; how faith plays a part in her leadership; plus, some words of advice – that is, woman to woman.
QUESTION: How has your journey in business shaped your voice as a female entrepreneur?
JESSICA SAROWITZ: First of all, I’ve always viewed my immigrant and multiracial background as a positive thing in my life. I had to be inquisitive; I had to have the ability to quickly take in and filter information; and most importantly, I had to be an advocate for my family and me in many different spaces. There are not a lot of women of color in business, especially in C-suite or leadership roles. That’s a problem. It gets lonely in spaces where you’re making decisions and you’re one of the few women or POC in the room. There are visible and invisible barriers; yet, I try to bring a unique insight and/or lived experience to collaborative conversations.
JESSICA SAROWITZ: Still, I’m very grateful because I have learned a lot from many bright and accomplished people in business who afforded me opportunities to express myself. As a result, I’ve gained valuable experience in various areas, from real estate to finance. As an entrepreneur, I understand the trajectory of what it takes to get started on a new endeavor, create a team; and finish a project, knowing there may be a few challenges and bumps in the road before you hit the finish line. I also know how to find a niche, that special mix of the right product or service, that will make an organization stand out. I aspire to be a force for good. I never do anything that I don’t truly believe in. You have to believe in what you’re doing to really be successful.
QUESTION: In what ways has your faith influenced your direction when picking projects?
JESSICA SAROWITZ: This is very personal. I choose projects that reflect my Christian values. Jesus taught us to love our neighbors without exception and to help the poor. I am here to serve people who are considered marginalized because society doesn’t see their true worth. I see the value of what marginalized people and communities can bring and try to make sure they have access to get what they need to improve their lives. I’m interested in helping struggling communities The ones that I get deeply involved with are often more complicated, requiring the understanding of complex human relationships around each project.
I am grateful that people trust me. I believe it’s because I’m consistent in the way I show up. I’m genuinely happy to see a community progress. When I’m in a project and I’m working with an organization, their worries become my worries. To achieve success with these difficult projects is not always easy. However, with all of us working together, we can overcome many obstacles to achieve our goals.
QUESTION: What advice do you have for women aspiring to have a foothold in the business world?
1. Be prepared and have a full understanding of everything that you have to do.
2. Be prepared to make some sacrifices because that’s the reality of the work.
3. Think about all the risks. You need to have a Plan A, a Plan B and a Plan C when you get to those areas that are going to be risky, You need to have a way to work through them in your mind. To do that, you need to create the best team possible around you. No one does anything in business by themselves. It’s also very wise to seek mentors to advise you.
4. You must be reliable and honest so that people trust you. When you say you’re going to do something, you need to execute and deliver. If you do that in a consistent manner, your customers, partners, teammates colleagues are going to trust you and you’re going to develop a solid network.
5. Generosity of spirit is needed. Some people want to win at all costs, even to the detriment of others, but in the long run this is a poor strategy. In the end, you don’t want to leave a trail of bad relationships.
QUESTION: What was your “ah-ha” moment in finding your calling as a social impact investor?
JESSICA SAROWITZ: I’ve had a series of “ah-ha” moments that has revealed itself over time because I’ve had experience in multiple areas. I’m also very perceptive, noticing patterns or models, and so I apply them to different applications. I enjoy coming up with macro solutions that address the needs of the whole system. Usually, people can do well attacking part of the problem. But, I like the challenge of connecting all those parts to find an overall solution.
I also have an incredible knack for the deep research and analytical thinking it takes to solve a problem that is unique to each situation. I’m good at coming up with custom solutions. We can’t bring a cookie cutter mentality because with different projects, there are different issues. I’m really excited about our latest project — that is, Stocker Street Creative in the Baldwin Hills area of Los Angeles. We are building a film studio campus on 5.1 acres. Our goal is to help rejuvenate the community and create jobs in the film and entertainment industry in a largely African-American community. We want people from the area to walk in and see that our project was built for them.
QUESTION: What has been the most rewarding part of your experience as an entrepreneur and social impact investor?
JESSICA SAROWITZ: I get to help people fulfill their dreams. They are sharing their aspirations and I say to them, “We can do it! Are you all in? Do you really want it, and if you do, we’re going to make it happen.” Eventually, the day comes when the project is completed and the dream is realized! That’s the most rewarding experience …ever!
JESSICA SAROWITZ, THE FILMMAKER: As a filmmaker, Sarowitz also founded Miraflores Films to bring awareness to the stories of marginalized groups and amplify the voices of inspiring women through documentary film. She is the executive producer of WITH THIS LIGHT, a doc that explores the remarkable life of a Franciscan nun, Sister Maria Rosa Leggol, who helped more than 80,000 Honduran children escape abject poverty. Armed with a razor sharp wit and an unshakeable faith in God, she inspired and enlisted supporters in her fight to end childhood poverty through wide-ranging projects including homes, vocational schools and medical programs. For more about Miraflores Films, visit www.MirafloresFilms.com. She’s also a co-executive producer of the doc, IMAGINING THE INDIAN, which is a comprehensive examination of the movement to eradicate the words, images, and gestures that many Native Americans and their allies find demeaning and offensive. The film takes a deep-dive into the issues through archival footage and interviews with those involved in the fight. The psychological research is clear, the use of Native American mascots is detrimental, not only to Native people, but to marginalized groups everywhere. IMAGINING THE INDIAN makes its world premiere at California’s American Indian and Indigenous Film Festival (CAIIFF) on April 2-3, 2022 at the Pechanga Resort Casino. For more about CAIIFF, visit www.CAIIFF.com.
SAROWITZ’S PARTNERSHIP WITH THE PAN AFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL: To further demonstrate her commitment to the Black community in Los Angeles, Sarowitz’s team helming the redevelopment of SSC signed on as a platinum sponsor for the opening night festivities of the 30th annual Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) in LA. Sarowitz’s 4S Bay Partners LLC along with its Los Angeles-based property management and project development consulting team, Pantheon Business Consulting LLC, is excited to kick off a memorable night of Black culture at PAFF in a global celebration of Pan African culture, beginning April 19 through May 1, 2022 in LA. PAFF is the largest Black film festival in the United States and the largest Black History Month cultural event in the nation. For more information, visit www.PAFF.org. By sponsoring PAFF, it gives Sarowitz the perfect opportunity to introduce SSC to the entertainment and creative community. There is a synergy between the missions of both 4S Bay Partners and PAFF, which serve to amplify creative voices in underserved communities.
ABOUT 4S BAY PARTNERS LLC Funding for the SSC is made possible through the investment of 4S Bay Partners LLC, a single-family office that strives to eliminate prejudice and the inequities of our society. 4S Bay partners with communities near and far to create economic opportunities and amplify the storytelling of marginalized communities. 4S Bay achieves its mission by deploying creative private capital investments. For more information, visit www.4Sbay.com ABOUT STOCKER STREET CREATIVE Visit www.stockerstreetcreative.com #StockerStreetCreative
By: Wyllissa Bennett