One of the first things you notice about Ashley La Russa’s Facebook page is her positive, ambitious drive to make things happen.
Founder of Tucson’s Roux Events LLC and the dynamic force behind #BlaxFriday, La Russa often posts her activities each week – all focused on community progress. The beautiful, accompanying illustrations by Afro-French artist Nicholle Kobi only confirm that this vibrant woman is on the move.
“Roux Events was founded in 2019 with the primary focus of supporting community leaders and organizations that value equity, diversity and inclusion,” she said. “Roux Events is an event management company that serves as a foundation for collaboration within our community.”
A graduate of Sam Houston State University in Texas, La Russa was invited to Tucson in 2008 after meeting the artistic director of Arizona Theatre Company when she was an intern in Florida. She accepted the position of assistant state manager and devoted a decade to the group, serving in several capacities there.
“I fell in love with Tucson within the first week of moving here,” said La Russa. “The pink and lavender sunsets are remarkable with the backdrop of the mountains. Tucson also has a wealth of culture based in Tohono O’odham and Sonoran traditions. Proud to live in the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy and enjoy delicious dishes from world-renowned chefs.”
Notably, she picked the name “Roux” for her company because in culinary terms, it’s the essential base of butter and flour that enriches many Creole dishes with hearty flavor and texture – a strong foundation for a successful result.
And Roux Events is successfully bringing projects like “BlaxFriday to the public forefront. “As a Black woman-owned business, we started #BlaxFriday to spotlight local Black-owned businesses” that have traditionally been ignored and unrecognized. Besides a kickoff event earlier this summer, La Russa has helped engineer a BlaxFriday app and hopes to expand into Phoenix too. She consistently uses her social media to promote numerous burgeoning businesses here.
All the while, she is also working to create stand-out events. “The key to creating a memorable event is the experience,” she said. “This could be achieved by theatrical productions, connections with new community members and swag. Swag is a must. Everyone loves a goodie bag filled with surprises and gifts.”
More recently because of the pandemic, she is adding the “digital experience” to her portfolio, as “…the virtual event space is booming,” La Russa said.
“While we are unable to meet in large gatherings for events, this time has truly shaped my mindset to value positivity and advocacy. The things that used to bother me or stifle progress are now pushed aside to allow the abundance of blessed guidance.”