Trevor Parham, Oakstop
Currently, Oakstop has 6 locations, with 2 added after PCV’s initial loan. Trevor has also grown his team to 25 employees, up from the 5 during the first year of the pandemic.
Trevor Parham is the founder of Oakstop, an Oakland-based social enterprise that provides coworking, meeting, and event spaces to entrepreneurs, artists, and businesses. A formally trained fine artist, Trevor saw that while artists give Oakland the vibrancy and culture it is known for today, they are getting pushed out of their neighborhoods due to rising rents–rising rents that are happening partially because of the attractive local culture created by Oakland’s local artists. Understanding these dynamics in Oakland’s real estate market, Trevor sought to create a seat at the table for artists to participate in Oakland’s economic growth. Thus, Oakstop was born–as a way for artists and other entrepreneurs to have the space to participate in Oakland’s rapidly evolving business ecosystem. “Our work is founded in the notion that local artists should be at the center of economic development, especially as increased economic activity in Oakland threatens to displace the local artists that make Oakland such a vibrant and culturally enriching place to live and work, “ says Trevor. “Our support of artists focuses not only on art exhibits and the display of artwork, but also services and support programs targeted at uplifting artists.”
Oakstop is more than just space to rent – it’s an organization that is built by and for the community. Oakstop hires an entirely Black staff, most of whom are artists or entrepreneurs in Oakland at risk of displacement. In 2019, Oakstop launched its nonprofit subsidiary, Oakstop Alliance, which arranges community programming in economic empowerment, culture and creativity, community wellness, and youth development in Oakstop’s locations. Throughout the pandemic, the Oakstop Alliance also provided space for health professionals to create PPE and organized food security and distribution programs.
Like most businesses, the pandemic had been tough on Oakstop. In 2020 the staff had to be downsized to just five employees (from over 20 originally), with revenue taking a hit. Nevertheless, Oakstop remained open which eventually paved the way to new opportunities. With buildings suddenly being empty due to shifts in remote working and decreased foot traffic in business areas, property owners were looking to fill their commercial spaces. And with the Oakstop Alliance continually active in community empowerment and development, property owners approached Oakstop to be part of their buildings.
In late 2020, Trevor was given a chance to secure more space in one of his downtown Oakland locations, but he needed capital to manage the operations and expansion of his business. That’s when PCV stepped in to help. With a loan from PCV, Trevor was able to hire additional staff to manage the new space, as well as support rent costs and upgrade technology, fixtures, and protective equipment for his employees. And because PCV’s model pairs our borrowers with pro bono business advisors, Trevor was able to work with HR advisor Caroline Pao from The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Together, they worked on Oakstop’s growing HR and recruiting needs. With the economy opening up more at that time, Trevor wanted to get ahead of increasing demand and launch a new phase of growth for his business. PCV was there to help Oakstop in executing that growth strategy. Currently, Oakstop has 6 locations, with 2 added after PCV’s initial loan. Trevor has also grown his team to 25 employees, up from the 5 during the first year of the pandemic.
With Oakstop having 5 downtown Oakland locations within a 5 block radius, Trevor has formed an Oakstop campus that can more effectively serve the broader Oakland community. Trevor and his team are planning to introduce more community programming in the area during evenings and the weekends– beyond the normal business hours of the week.
But that isn’t the only way Trevor is giving back to the community. In 2020, Trevor co-founded the Oakland Black Business Fund, a grantmaking program that provides infrastructure support and resources to Oakland’s Black businesses. The program supports technical assistance partnerships between Black businesses because as Trevor says, “We’re often giving the best advice as entrepreneurs .”
When PCV launched the Oakland Restorative Loan Fund in late 2021, we wanted to make sure that the fund reached entrepreneurs of color most at risk for gentrification and displacement. Trevor, in his role with Oakland Black Business Fund, was our partner in launching the fund – making sure that capital reached the small businesses he helps everyday. As PCV deepens our commitment to centering power with local community leaders and organizations, we’re honored to partner with entrepreneurs and leaders like Trevor who pave the way for lasting, systemic change. Trevor said, “We’re excited to partner with Pacific Community Ventures to ensure that Black businesses receive capital that aligns with our economic justice agenda. The Oakland Restorative Loan fund will allow the Black business owners we support to confidently borrow low to no cost capital as a next step in their ongoing financing strategy.”
PCV is incredibly proud to work alongside Trevor in the fight to build and sustain wealth in our Oakland neighborhoods.