Small Business Spotlight: Larvetta Loftin Built L3 Agency To Deliver Culturally-Aware Content, Showcase Black Female Talent
Larvetta Loftin, founder and CEO of full-service influencer marketing and communications firm The L3 Agency, has coined a motto that guides how she approaches her career: “Doing what you love with kindness, grace, and excellence.”
The Polsky Small Business Growth program alum launched her firm nearly 20 years ago after spending the first decade of her career in media relations and advertising and marketing firms.
She was compelled to open her own shop because she felt limited and undervalued in her corporate career. She had a goal of creating a space where women of color were heard and celebrated and where holistic stories of marginalized communities were told.
“I loved working at agencies and learned a lot,” Loftin said, “but I didn’t know where to fit in – they didn’t see me for the creative soul that I was.
“I wanted to design a space that would be suitable for the way I speak and create, and I wanted to bring young creatives, young women to the table and give them support and make them feel like their voices were heard.”
Over the years, Loftin and her team have executed marketing and branding campaigns for Fortune 500 companies including Verizon, Bacardi, Toyota, McDonald’s, and CVS Pharmacy, as well as municipalities, energy companies like ComEd, and nonprofits such as The Chicago Community Trust. Her team also partners with small businesses to help them build their brands and develop a marketing strategy.
“We’ve been able to serve clients from a very community-centric and female-centric place,” said Loftin, whose office space is in Hyde Park. “We deliver culturally sensitive and relevant content, and that gives us an edge.”
A born entrepreneur
The entrepreneurial bug bit Loftin at a relatively young age. At 13, she began babysitting in the South Loop high-rise building where her family lived to earn extra spending cash. She quickly became the top babysitter in her building.
“Once I realized that babysitting worked and made money, I thought, ‘Oh, I like this entrepreneurship,’” she said.
She then moved to a full-time summer job in the daycare center in her building, which was run by an African-American woman and her husband. The woman, Ms. Walker, became her first mentor.
“I watched Ms. Walker run a very successful business, and I just thought it was so cool,” she said. “It didn’t come across as work, it just came across like she was solving a problem. She loved what she did and I wanted that for me, too.”
Loftin attended Clark Atlanta University and majored in mass communications, working at the local TV and radio stations while a student. It was here that she launched her second business venture, a t-shirt business focused on historically Black colleges that she operated with her college friends. After college, when she was working at PR and advertising agencies, she also ran a consulting firm on the side.
“My family would say I always had a hustle,” Loftin said. “It was merely because I wanted to do more, to achieve more, and entrepreneurship was the way I saw I could achieve it.”
New ventures, continued growth
Loftin’s latest venture is a podcast series she launched during the pandemic. Called Black Businesses Matter, the weekly podcast focuses on the struggles and joys of minority business owners and provides inspiration and actionable tools to help individuals grow their businesses.
The brand marketing strategist, who recently hosted a live recording of the podcast at the Polsky Exchange, started the program to not only help Black entrepreneurs connect, but also expose Black businesses to potential collaborations both inside and outside their communities.
“I love technology because it connects people and can lead to valuable relationships,” she said. “We thought starting a podcast was a great way to be inclusive and talk to a wide audience.”
Loftin plans to continue growing the podcast and potentially turn it into a docuseries, as well as host additional live events and activations across the U.S. She also wants to help her clients benefit from the medium and is building a new concept at The L3 Agency that combines podcasting with pop-ups.
“I’m really excited about this new concept and helping businesses start podcasts for their companies,” she said.
With her eyes on the future, Loftin took a moment to reflect on her career. When asked about her proudest moment as an entrepreneur, she does not mention landing the big client or industry awards, she talks about the people she has supported and empowered along the way.
“What I’m most proud of is all the women of color that I’ve had the pleasure to work with and just watch flourish,” she said. “If you see it, you can achieve it.”