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Meet Ashley Bullock and Jasmin Ratansi of Soul Therapy L.A. in West LA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashley Bullock and Jasmin Ratansi.

Ashley and Jasmin, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
As long as we’ve been friends, we’ve dreamt of starting an event like Soul Therapy. The desire came from not being able to find the right hangout space in LA that suited our preferences. Everywhere we went, separately or individually we opted for spaces with a jukebox so we could play our own music to set the vibe for everyone. We really like to feel at home when we go out—like we’re in a familiar space surrounded by loved ones. We also love to do arts and crafts and have found that to be incredibly therapeutic as it helps us tap into our inner child and feeds that little creative itch that we often get.

About a year and a half ago we traveled to Colombia and went to this place called Alquimico in Cartagena and they had a beautiful rooftop in the middle of the walled city – the air was warm, and you could feel the calm yet exciting energy from the outside.– the ambiance was great in that space and we knew if we could just play some soul music in there it would be PERFECT for us and our circle of friends.) Inspired by a quote from the late, great James Baldwin “The place in which I’ll fit will not exist until I make it” we decided to start brainstorming, putting our ideas together, and looking for the right space to bring Soul Therapy to life.

Has it been a smooth road?
Deep sigh. It hasn’t been a smooth road, but it also hasn’t been terrible either. I think navigating any new business that you’re extremely passionate about is almost always going to have its challenges because your heart and soul is invested in it. Some of the struggles that we’ve faced are due to the fact that we’re new to this side of things and there’s a learning curve involved as far as logistics and business go. For example, learning what the normal practices are and understanding expenses and ways to underwrite them – paying for our talent, flyers, activities, decorations, venue, sound, etc. and finding ways to cover those costs. We also learned over time what our responsibilities are to our talent and our audience and seeing what works and what doesn’t work, i.e.: do we start later? Do we end later? Do we need more games? Being passionate and altruistic doesn’t always help the situation when it comes to the financial side and mixing that with being green can sometimes result in not being taken as seriously or even being taken advantage of, so we’ve learned how to better balance our enthusiasm with our seriousness when it comes to business discussions. Obviously, money plays a factor in “the struggle” as well. We have invested 100% of our own money into this event, no sponsors, donors, or investors and that can feel like a major hindrance to our success as there are times we’ve realized that if we had more money we could take the party to the next level.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Soul Therapy L.A. story. Tell us more about the business.
Soul Therapy is a labor of love and everything we do to create the events—down to the games, coloring books, flyers, and music is all very intentional. We specialize in curating events that are fun and simple. No pretentious, weird, uncomfortable vibes. Just fun and GOOD music—that’s our focus. We play a lot of jazz, funk, soul, rare grooves and samples, as well as classic hip-hop and classic rock. A lot of West Coast classics are played at Soul Therapy which always seems to get the crowd going. We make it a point to pay homage to our West Coast/LA culture which actually has a lot to do with our own personal and professional development. We’ve had a lot of West Coast legends come through the building like Dam Funk, DJ Pooh, Battlecat, Fredwreck, Hittman, Too Short, etc. and it feels good to be able to center them and their contributions to the culture. Another thing that we’re both really happy about is the diversity of our crowd. When you promote an event by saying something like “hey we’re gonna be playing some oldies, coloring and blowing bubbles this weekend come through!” – you never know what type of crowd you’re going to draw in. Soul Therapy is a party for all genders and all cultures and those old enough to drink. Overall, we want to set up an environment that’s like your best friend’s backyard BBQ where everyone’s encouraged to make new friends and interact and walk away feeling uplifted and positive.

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
It’s hard to pinpoint one proud moment as there have been so many. Although there are moments when we stand back on the stage and watch our beautiful, diverse crowd really dialed into their coloring books or they’re really focused on the domino game they’re playing, that really brings us so much joy. My favorite moment is when Fredwreck started playing west coast B-side cuts that I thought only a few of us knew but the whole crowd was on the dancefloor reciting every word to it – I felt like the right crowd found the right party where they could really activate those parts of their brains and enjoy it! It’s great to see people enjoy the things we both love so much and treat everyone around them so wonderfully – at any given moment you can eavesdrop on a conversation and it’s nothing but positivity and well-wishes.

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