When you search for images of ‘young professionals,’ you find pictures of networking events, workshops, seminars etc., — events that are all relevant to young professionals but hardly the ones where authentic long lasting social and personal relationships are formed. Toasted Life fills that gap. What started as an event and lifestyle brand, has since evolved into a positive catalyst for the social fulfillment of young professionals in the Bay Area.
To get a sense of what Toasted Life is, picture artists like Travis Porter, Waka Flocka and Jeremih partying alongside engineers, and business professionals from Twitter, Facebook, and Uber, to name a few. The name Toasted Life, is actually a play off the word ‘toasting,’ as in toasting to and celebrating life, which the two founders felt anyone could identify with no matter what part of life’s journey you’re in.
In April 2013, founders, Warren Jones of Somerset, NJ and Matt Tuffuor of Cleveland, OH started on their journey to change the social atmosphere of the Bay. “Without intentionally trying to be that medium for young black professionals to connect socially we became that destination, mostly because our natural network was exactly that, young… black… and professional,’ says Tuffuor.
Graduates of Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA, the two met during their senior year, soon to find out that they’d both be heading to the West Coast for work. “The thing about where we went to college, is the bond of brotherhood. No matter if you were close to that person or not, when you find yourself in the same city as another Morehouse Alumn, you take your time to meet that person, no questions asked,” explains Jones.
After studying Business at Morehouse this duo found themselves working for two of the largest tech companies in the world — Matt at Google in Mountain View, and Warren not too far down the road at Apple’s HQ. And like many of the serial entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, these two work diligently during the day at their tech jobs and spend late nights and early mornings building their brand.
To get a dose of just who these entrepreneurs are, take a quick scroll through their Instagram “@ToastedLife”. Their page is full of exotic pictures from yachting in the Persian Gulf, dog sledding in British Colombia, and taming tigers in South East Asia. When you speak to them, they’ll tell you stories about their 24-hour trips to Belize, day partying in Tanzania and skydiving in Northern California. “We are ambassadors for living life to fullest and going after dreams, a mentality we seek to infuse into those around us” says Jones.
“As kids, Warren and I both had that entrepreneurial bug. Warren used to burn CDs of curated music to sell to his middle school classmates. Very similarly I was making and selling so much lemonade during my elementary school summers I could have probably taken Tropicana out of business,” says Tuffuor.
Their lives and their story is far from conventional, an aspect they have ingrained into the lifestyle of their brand. “We didn’t create Toasted Life to end up doing what everyone else was doing, we founded our company to turn something that may seem unordinary into the norm. We created a brand with an aim to bring polar opposites together, an atmosphere where the corporate achiever meets the dope local street artist or the current law student is vibing out with an up and coming musician.” says Jones, a recipe that’s worked for the two young entrepreneurs as they prepare to go national with their brand.
“We made the assumption that if you can build a brand and a product with you being the target audience, there’s a high chance that there are a bunch of other people out there, that are just like you and have those same needs,” explains Tuffuor
That’s how the idea of Toasted started. Warren and Matt didn’t feel optimistic about the direction of nightlife and partying in the Bay, especially for people who enjoyed Hip Hop music. They are challenging the notion that Hip Hop automatically brings trouble into clubs and strive to turn this misconception upside down and lead by example.
The idea of a young professional does not have just one image these days. It’s one of versatility and allure, empowerment and experimentation. Toasted Life is that and an example of the new face of professionalism, the ones that can write code, start a business from the ground up, perform cutting-edge procedures in the operating room and still party hard.
We’ve all heard the cliché quote “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, well you shouldn’t in this case either. As much as their network loves down South music and various regional sounds like Travis Scott or Future, their network has a laundry list of professional degrees and kick ass resumes loaded with some of the most prestigious companies in the world. Toasted Life is a brand that delivers authenticity, energy, and diversity with the underlying thread of Hip hop culture
The journey for these two black males has just begun. While catching the attention of many industry execs and artists, they have been amazed at how quickly the company has grown and are even more excited what the future holds. They have plans to take Toasted Life to the Midwest, South and East Coast in the near future.