Forbes 3o Under 30 named UC Santa Barbara alumna Jena Dominique Pruitt on its Marketing & Advertising list for co-founding a marketing agency titled Made in Color.
Made in Color is a creative agency founded in 2019 by Pruitt and co-founder Selena Davant that aims to “[establish] the new standard for radical transformation within the creative industry,” according to its website.
“Made in Color was really on a mission to create a safe space and home for undervalued talent of color,” Pruitt said. “A place where they can show up authentically and create their best work. Show up in different forms with different skill sets and find like-minded people to collaborate. It is a vehicle to access opportunities that typically wouldn’t come your way and/or you wouldn’t have the capacity to produce alone.”
The Oakland native graduated from UCSB in 2014 with bachelor’s degrees in political science and anthropology before pursuing marketing. Pruitt said marketing was always in her wheelhouse, beginning with her campus involvements.
“When I was on A.S. Program Board, I was a publicity coordinator,” Pruitt said. “I’ve always just been marketing-adjacent. And what I realized is marketing and advertising is kind of a catch-all for a lot of different folks who have different backgrounds. Me, as an anthropologist, I can apply my human mind and my human research mind to assets and what’s going to sell, what’s going to convert.”
In the past year, 30 Under 30 has given Pruitt the access to Forbes events and retreats in destinations including the United Arab Emirates and Botswana.
“I would honestly say for anyone who wants to be on the 30 Under 30 lists, making the list is cool, having your name printed is great, but it’s really, really important to show up for the experiences that they cultivate for us,” Pruitt said. “That’s where you just really … get to meet with the other movers and shakers on the list.”
Like many, Pruitt said she felt pressure to get a job post-graduation. However, she backpacked in Europe for six months instead.
“I spent time in Italy and France and Switzerland, and then I ended up booking a one way flight to South Africa,” Pruitt said. “I came back home and I got a temp job. And I was still standing at the windows looking at every plane that passed by, and so I decided to travel again.”
Pruitt then decided to do more backpacking in the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia before beginning a master’s program at the University of Cape Town. She said she then decided to pause it thereafter to volunteer at the 2016 Olympics.
“I stopped [my master’s program] because I was like, ‘I don’t want to live here, but I’m just trying to go to school here,’” Pruitt said. “I went to volunteer at the Olympics in Rio, which was great. And that ultimately then kind of started my career.”
Pruitt discussed how her anthropology degree informed her daily life and her decision to pursue ethnographic digital content later on.
“Ultimately, this is also where the anthropologist in me shows up,” Pruitt said. “That person that’s a culture seeker and a culture keeper. A person that’s hyper adaptable and really likes to seep into where I’m at and ultimately create an ethnography. My ethnography these days, it’s like photos, right? … It’s digital content. So I created a lot of that, and I think that’s ultimately also what got me into marketing. ”
Before Made in Color came to fruition, Pruitt spoke to various professional and personal pursuits she had, such as founding a postcard company called Street Salad.
“Man, Street Salad was my child,” Pruitt said. “It was like when people say, ‘What’s the idea that keeps you up at night?’ That was Street Salad for me.”
She also created a podcast with a close friend called “It’s A Look” and worked as an Airbnb host that led to collaborating with the company on a larger scale.
“Where I’m getting at now in my career, and just in my life, is to move with intuition,” Pruitt said. “You have to move intuitively; you have to trust yourself, and I think a part of the reason why I probably stopped doing that [Street Salad] is I didn’t trust myself … I started questioning myself.”
Pruitt said Made in Color has grossed over one million dollars in revenue. She said immersive art installations could be her potential next passion project.
“My favorite part of marketing that I’m really doubling down on at this point is something called experiential marketing,” Pruitt continued. “Experiential marketing and immersive art installations. So if you think about this Van Gogh exhibit that was going on … I fangirl out over these things. And so, I’ve done a few experiential projects with Made in Color. We just did installations for [a] queer wellness festival called ‘Some of Us.’”
Looking back at her accomplishments so far, Pruitt said that all of her experiences culminated to her achievement with Forbes.
“I think, really, the culmination of my career is what got me on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list,” Pruitt said. “It’s the doing of many things. It’s marketing that has worked on global campaigns or worked on movements that really mattered. But I think also what got me on a 30 Under 30 list was ultimately believing that I could be there.”
For Pruitt, this was all a longtime dream come true.
“I had written it down in my dreams notebook, like, years ago,” Pruitt said. “I had forgotten that it was a dream … something that I say is you have to co-create with the universe, like you can manifest that, you have to architect it, you have to pull it down and you have to design it. You have to, and that’s what I did.”
A version of this article appeared on p. 5 of the Nov 16, 2023, print edition of the Daily Nexus.