How pocstock is creating an authentic stock image marketplace

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pocstock is a Black-owned diversity content agency specializing in creating and marketing images that showcase the diverse pigmentations, lifestyles, fashion, and cultures of people of color (POC).

The company was founded in 2019 by entrepreneur Steve Jones, agency executive DeSean Brown, and photographer Tamara Fleming. The full team is comprised of a highly diverse group of executives and consultants across several US states and six different countries, all of whom are committed to challenging socially-accepted narratives around people of color and showing them in a more positive light.

The U.S. Census projects that by 2060 so-called ‘minorities’ will become the majority population of the United States and media content needs to be reflected accordingly and accurately. pocstock does just that by providing diversity consulting and custom content development services to clients looking to successfully incorporate people of color into their campaigns while ensuring cultural sensitivity.

Image via social media

Additionally, the company operates a user-friendly, subscription-based platform that grants access to an extensive library of more than 30,000 authentic stock photos contributed by a global network of photographers in over thirty-five countries.

According to Jones, the idea for pocstock was conceived in 2018 though he, along with Brown, and Fleming, made the business official in November 2019.

“I think the three of us in our own experiences working at agencies, working for large corporations, experienced the issue of you know, not being able to find images that represent, you know, people of color,” Jones said. “So individually, we all had the same issues. And we decided to come together and create an agency that solves those problems for our culture, as well as the companies and communities we serve.”

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Brown said that although pocstock got off the ground in 2019, the idea of it had always been on his mind, making the journey of representing people of color in a positive way seem like a lifelong quest. Fleming echoed Brown’s sentiments, adding that working at the photo desk in the news industry raised her awareness of the misrepresentation and underrepresentation of people of color in the media.

Since March 2020 major photo companies have started trying to push Black and POC content, and while Jones agrees that the more representation, the better, he believes that there remains a lack of authenticity, and that lack of authenticity is what has created the need for a company like pocstock.

“[GETTY] created the stock image marketplace,” said Jones. “But there’s a lot of gaps in terms of their understanding of how diversity works, how it matters,” he continued.

“A lot of the companies that then come to us, they’re looking for real, authentic, validated, vetted images that they know when they say I’m doing a campaign for, you know, the New York Puerto Rican Day Parade. It’s not a photo of someone from California, who’s Mexican.”

“We geo target different cultures based on certain data points, like we know, the background of the every model, for the most part in our database,. So we’re able to tell a customer with a certain level of surety, what is the cultural background of the people and the images that we put forth to them,” said Jones.

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Fleming told theGrio that the company’s main strategy for drumming up business is word of mouth. “You can’t take the place of a word of mouth when it comes to hearing from someone how good something is. One of the things that we do, and we do well, is communicating with our contributors and to our communities,” she said. 

Thus far, pocstock has been self-funded, but the company does have some investment opportunities that they’re exploring. “So we will be potentially putting a seed round together early 2021,” Jones said. “But like everything else, we want to choose our partners carefully… We want to make sure it’s from the right partners who are aligned with our mission as well.”

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