It may be the first of its kind in Baltimore!
An HBCU alum has announced the launch of a new creative real estate company in Baltimore city.
Raymond Smith is a creative strategist and CEO of The Digital Footprint, an agency that offers content creation, ideation, marketing, social media and digital strategy and design to brands and individuals. For years the company has worked with multiple companies and influencers, curating innovative rollouts that help even the most polished business take it up another notch. Smith is also the creative mastermind behind an array of popular millennial brands and regularly lends his talent to community endeavors. Recently, he was named a Future of Black Music and Culture honoree by CultureCon, Apple Music, and Beats by Dre.
Now the Baltimore native is bringing his talents to the real estate sector, announcing the launch of his new endeavor, Gradient Space, a creative real estate company “focused on bringing modern design, tech, creative resources and assets to low-income” and underserved neighborhoods. Each affordable housing space will come equipped with the latest tech and modern design aesthetic. Residents will also have the opportunity to take advantage of creative and digital services that include resume creation, logos, graphic or website design services, and overall creative consulting. Smith’s goal is to support the residents with physical shelter while simultaneously empowering them business-wise to compete in the emerging and ever-changing digital space.
“I just don’t want my people getting left behind. People always talk about the future and advancement of our culture, but it’s never about the people in the trenches. The world is moving so fast from crypto and NFTs to social media and the metaverse. I want everyone included in those conversations,” Smith told Because Of Them We Can.
While the Black tech gap is always a hot-button topic from a workforce and business leader perspective, Smith is focused on addressing the issue from an even more microlens, helping everyday people navigate certain aspects of tech that are absolute requirements for thriving. By equipping those in opportunity zones and affordable housing with the tools to navigate the digital and tech arena embedded in their living spaces, it creates an even larger conversation around those residents' particular needs so the resources can be filtered in.
Smith believes his business model also tackles the issue of gentrification by ensuring that Black people own the blocks and the resources needed on those blocks. Even the company name is a homage to the “transition” Smith hopes to create. The Delaware State alum took to social media to announce the new venture on his birthday, deciding to give his own gift to the city that made him.
“It’s literally impossible to celebrate myself without the city that raised me. So to pay homage…I decided to give something back to the city…a gift that could possibly change the trajectory for future generations and our people in general. Plus, I knew birthdays usually get a lot of attention on social media, so I figured that also went hand in hand with the rollout,” Smith explained.
He has already purchased his first Gradient Space home in Baltimore, navigating the real estate aspect completely alone so he could learn all the ropes. He hopes to make the real estate industry more personable and add a creative flair that he feels is lacking. Already he’s thought about ways to innovate spaces through a holistic wrap-around lens, tinkering with the idea of welcoming each resident with everything from free NFTs to a “curated playlist geared to relieve anxiety.”
“I have a marketing and creative background so I’m a believer in the small details make the difference…Everyone in at-risk neighborhoods has some sort of anxiety …or trauma from their environment. From the outside, someone may say that's dumb but those are the small details I want to bring to this industry,” he said.
Currently, Smith is working on the home renovations with the goal of welcoming his first resident in 2024. To keep up with Smith’s work, follow the company on social media @Gradient_Space.
Congratulations Ray! To infinity and beyond!
Photo Courtesy of @rayandnite/Instagram