30 Nov 2017

Entrepreneur Credits Scarborough Upbringing For Successful Start

Returning from England to Scarborough as a child, Ian Andre Espinet found himself surrounded by, and befriending, companions from all over the world.

“Your experience as a first generation child in this country is unique, and yet the same,” says the successful entrepreneur who has made a North America-wide mark on the urban entertainment scene.  “You develop an understanding of other cultures as opposed to fear.”

With strong parental guidance, even in grade school he was an active volunteer, including soup kitchens and with Anishnawbe Indigenous peoples’ support. Espinet enrolled in political science and sociology at the University of Toronto Scarborough, a path that exposed him to global insights, and the opportunity to study with black and Caribbean writers.

“I came into school at 18 without a path. I became involved in student government and with the Afro Caribbean Students Association (ACSA),” he says.

“At the time there were few positive depictions of black people in society. Being in contact with the organization I met others, mentors and people who encouraged me to become involved.” He taught English and Black History for eight years with the Scarborough Black Education Organization, “It’s the ‘each one, teach one’ mentality. I mentored some young people during that time that I am still in contact with.”

“Scarborough was such an incredible place to grow up for creativity,” he says. “It’s the whole world in a city. That’s what coloured my success in entertainment.”

While still at U of T Scarborough, Espinet started Emancipation Clothing Company, printing positive messages on T-shirts. A Maya Angelou quote led to an invitation from the great poet to meet her backstage after a reading at Massey Hall. Through ACSA, he developed contacts in the entertainment world, and was soon providing T-shirts, towels and printed ephemera for nightclubs and DJ’s around Toronto and beyond. Working for major promoters across North America led to event planning. He remains involved with the wider community, facilitating workshops, and as a keynote speaker at conferences and symposia involving young, black men.

“Scarborough was such an incredible place to grow up for creativity,” he says. “It’s the whole world in a city. That’s what coloured my success in entertainment.” He says, “I love Scarborough with all my heart. It’s a thing to say that Toronto is a world in a city. I don’t think anywhere else in the GTA is as truly diverse as Scarborough.”

This article was republished with permission from 150neighbours.ca

Read 1439 times Last modified on Thursday, 07 December 2017 08:38
(1 Vote)


3li En Wordmark C

Featured Directory Listings

Featured events

Get our newsletter

Please enable the javascript to submit this form

ByBlacks.com Patreon Banner 700 x 350px

Help us tell stories that matter

One more thing! Our mission at ByBlacks is to provide positive and uplifting stories that reflect our Black Canadian community. Unlike other media platforms, we have always rejected the pay for play model.

Our people need these kinds of stories more than ever right now. That’s why we’ve chosen an approach that allows us to keep our content open, accessible and free from paywalls.
We’re not into building walls anyway.

Support from readers like you gives our writers the time, space and freedom to find and create content that matters. Every contribution you make, big or small, goes directly into funding our journalism. Support ByBlacks.com for as little as $10 a month, and it only takes a minute. We thank you!

Become a Patron!