Entrepreneur Matt Tuffuor Drops Gems on Curating a Community-Based ‘Toasted Life’

Let’s be real—”life be lifing.”

This phrase is especially true when adequate support systems are lacking and you haven’t found your people yet. Being able to forge authentic channels of community can make all the difference when going through the many phases of adulting. Entrepreneur and marketing executive Matt Tuffuor knows this experience and the value of friendship well. After an epiphany about the challenges of maintaining true friends, Tuffuor co-founded Toasted Life, a multifaceted hospitality company based on the principles of relationship building.

Tuffuour shared insight into his journey as an entrepreneur with EBONY while giving key tips on staying connected to your purpose while building your own business.

What inspired you to create Toasted Life?
I have to give my experience at Morehouse College a lot of credit, which helped me understand the importance of community. It’s not just a school, it’s a community that shaped my understanding of the real power of togetherness. Professors felt like aunts and uncles, and students felt like siblings and cousins. Beyond the fact that many of the students may have looked like me, It’s a very social atmosphere where you don’t have to go far out of your way to find a circle with similar interests. 

Fast-forward to after college and I found myself working in Silicon Valley with far fewer opportunities to meet new friends. I quickly realized that expecting friendships to come about as effortlessly as they did in college was wishful thinking in the adult world.

So, enter Toasted Life, which came from the idea that friendships can be forged through experiences. We felt like we could help be the glue that brings young Black and Brown professionals together in markets where that connection is needed most. Sometimes that’s a one thousand person block party and sometimes that’s a private dinner for 20. We believe there is power in creating environments that deliver meaningful exchanges for BIPOC audiences. 

What defines a “Toasted Lifestyle” in your opinion?
Toasted Life is more of a mentality than anything. While some have made the mistake of assuming we cater exclusively to “successful blacks and browns in the tech industry”, the essence of Toasted Life is not defined by your profession but by your aspirations. It’s about attracting individuals who are driven to achieve more, regardless of their current circumstances. We’ve become a haven for those navigating diverse paths in our markets. From someone who’s juggling part-time jobs and hustling through college to the person full-time bootstrapping their dream business. The Toasted lifestyle acknowledges the unique journeys we’re all on, emphasizing that everyone has something worth celebrating. Also celebration to us is not just about the big milestones, it’s about recognizing and embracing every step forward. Whether it’s landing that new job, relocating to a different city, finally paying off that lingering school debt or locking in your first apartment, each achievement is an integral part of the journey that deserves celebrating. 

We believe that celebration is the cornerstone of joy, camaraderie, and growth which is a shared mindset.

Why is it important to have curated spaces for communities of color to commune and connect in?
Curated spaces are crucial in general. It’s not about physical proximity; it’s about deepening interpersonal connections between people. I was listening to a podcast that pointed out how common it was for older homes to have a front porch where homeowners spent a lot of time hosting neighbors. So encouraging strangers and neighbors was even integrated into how we designed our homes. But newer homes have ditched the front porch for privacy and put their porches in the back to discourage connection and togetherness. 

What are the keys to creating a memorable event that can hold longevity?
This advice transcends just building a memorable event and applies to building anything with longevity in mind. When you are trying to create something new, start with a real problem that you’re personally facing. If you ever catch yourself building something for someone else, you’ll be doing a lot of guessing along the way. If you are your own target audience, you intimately understand both the audience and the problem you’re solving.

Here are the best tips Tuffour has learned along his entrepreneurial journey:

Understand your why?

Being crystal clear on your ‘why’ is absolutely essential before diving into the entrepreneurial journey. Take a moment before hitting go and ask yourself, ‘Why am I doing this?’ It’s crucial that this answer comes from within because, when things get tough out there, you’re the one making the biggest sacrifices for your business. It’s also up to you to pick yourself up when things get tough. Working for yourself demands a lot of time and money and can even take a toll on your health. While it might seem like living the dream, it’s crucial to understand what you’re signing yourself up for. I wouldn’t change it for the world, but it’s important to be real with yourself and acknowledge the challenges. For solo entrepreneurs, starting a business can feel isolating at times. Having a strong ‘why’ will be your driving force and serve as your compass throughout your entrepreneurial journey.

Don’t be afraid to fail

Failing is where all the lessons live, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Trust me, you’ll encounter many on your entrepreneurial journey. If you’re not, you’re likely running the business on safe mode and autopilot, keeping things stagnant. While sticking to old ways might sustain a business, it is an innovation killer and will impact your biz growth. So it’s not failure you should fear, you should fear having your business in the same place next year. So try to embrace the lessons that come with each setback and they’ll push you forward.

Enjoy the ride 

The daily grind can make you lose sight of the progress you’ve made. There were times when I found myself deep in the business’s day-to-day operations, feeling like we weren’t doing enough or moving fast enough. But all it took was me lifting my head and looking back to see how much we had accomplished. So to ensure we don’t lose that perspective, as a business, we’ve now made it a habit to regularly reflect on our work. 

During one of these end-of-year reflections, I stumbled upon an early Toasted Life brainstorming doc from eight years ago. Reading through it, my face lit up reading some of the ideas we had from our early days that felt impossible, that we were now living.

In a similar exercise, my business partner and I decided to dig through old Instagram messages on our brand account to read some of the early messages from our customers. We came across an unread message that we had sent to a large brand we admired, hoping we could catch their attention and land a collaboration. Believe it or not, we recently struck a deal with that same brand, and they had never even read our initial message on IG. Sometimes you need to pause and realize you’re living the dreams you used to dream about.

Updated: April 1, 2024 — 12:00 pm