Inside Pull Up, Patreon’s incubator and community for creators of color

By Briana Ellis-Gibbs

Photo by Dajuana Jones, featuring KAMAUU at the Know for Sure Podcast x Pull Up event

To learn, grow, and connect with a vibrant community of creators of color, join Pull Up — and be part of the magic.

As an industry worth an estimated $100 billion and growing, the creator economy is rich with opportunities for creative entrepreneurs — but the associated income is unevenly distributed. A recent study shows that the pay gap between BIPOC and white creators widened to 29% in 2021, meaning creators of color are paid nearly a third less than their white peers. To help bridge this gap, in April 2022, Patreon launched Pull Up, a creative community and incubator dedicated to amplifying creators of color.

By joining Pull Up, creators gain access to opportunities to learn from each other and from industry leaders at curated events, speaker series, workshops, and community programs, as well as access to a private chat group. These initiatives are crafted to equip creators of color to succeed and support each other’s creative paths — and pay it forward to the next ones up.

An intentional space for community and conversation

Supported by and developed alongside some of the most influential creators of color driving culture today and their companies — including actress Issa Rae’s HOORAE Media, author Blair Imani, singer Durand Bernarr, singer-songwriter Jade Novah, sculptor Tina Yu, Amanda Seales’ Smart, Funny, and Black , and TV personality Tim Chantarungsu — Pull Up opens the door for creators of all experience levels to connect, expand their networks, and grow their businesses. “To support this community in a meaningful way,” says Hewan Abebe, Patreon’s Head of Creator Initiatives, “we’re building a world where we can be celebrated and help each other achieve our goals.”

To be part of Pull Up is to be part of a community. Just ask Pull Up’s creative partner Nicole Cardoza, an acclaimed social entrepreneur, investor, author, public speaker, and magician. "As a Black female magician in a white, male-dominated space," Nicole says, “It's exciting to have opportunities to work with creators that look like me as my career unfolds.” At one Pull Up event, she dished up literal Black girl magic with vanishing coin tricks that doubled as life and career lessons. “I love being able to learn and grow from other creators of color,” she says. “It's powerful to witness our magic, whether we're making music, creating podcasts, or directing new feature films.”

Pull Up creator David Erick Ramos also feels the electricity of these purposeful community spaces. In recent years, he’s been embracing and connecting to his Latino culture and heritage more than ever, and going to a Pull Up event was the first time he has attended a mostly BIPOC event for creators. “With the Pull Up program, it feels like I have a support system in place,” he says. “It feels like a safe space where you can open up about your issues as a creator of color. There are resources specifically for us and people who we can reach out to when we have very specific issues that we're dealing with as BIPOC creators.”

Uplifting opportunities to learn and grow together

Designed to provide solutions to people at every stage of their creative journey, Pull Up's programming features energetic experiences that lift up creators' remarkable work, spark meaningful conversations, and support professional development and knowledge-building.

“Working with Pull Up helped me understand more about building a connection with my patrons and making the content they love.”

Through live and virtual events, creators get opportunities to learn together and tap into valuable wisdom from creators who are deep into their creative careers and at the top of their game. On stage at Pull Up Late Night x A Sip with Issa Rae, the media mogul herself led an insightful conversation with rapper Blxst, diving into wisdom he’s gained in his career so far. During the livestream, the online audience shared the lessons and pieces of encouragement they gleaned from the discussion, including to “not let your lows keep you low or your highs to get you too high,” to own your authenticity, and to trust and appreciate your gifts.

At a panel of Asian and Pacific Islander creators, a line-up of speakers including sculptor Tina Yu, chef Pailin Chongchitnant, DJ HEAVY PLEASURE, and fashion designer and teacher Zoe Hong, spoke about their journeys towards creative independence — and what it took to get there. Pull Up creators in attendance got to learn how, as creators of color, the panelists cut their own paths to thrive in industries dominated by white people, as well as advice on growing an audience and building a brand, the impact of being an active part of a community, and how investing in yourself as a creator — whether with dedicated studio space, part-time help, setting boundaries, and tapping into peace and joy — can propel your work.

An incubator for creative independence

More established creators have the chance to join an incubator and work with the Patreon team on a custom project designed to accelerate their business’ growth. In exchange, the creators give back to the rest of the Pull Up community by contributing to educational content or experiences. Being part of the incubator helped visual artist Tina Yu, for one, strengthen her business and deepen connections with her members. With the help of the Pull Up community, she launched a popular two-month-long intensive art course, including kits with tools and clay and high-quality tutorial videos on how to make a sculpture from start to finish. Students only needed to bring their creativity. She says, “Working with Pull Up helped me understand more about building a connection with my patrons and making the content they love.”

As part of their incubator project, the team from RT TV, known for their reaction videos and audio content about the hottest things in pop culture, also gained deeper community insights. With support from the Patreon team, this creator crew put together a survey designed to help them better understand what their members value. The resulting member input informed RT TV’s successful new podcast; the first season even topped the Apple podcast anime charts! “And we just built a brand new studio to continue the success of what Pull Up helped cultivate," the RT TV team wrote in an email. "Above all, Pull Up helped us prepare for the future to ensure we're always able to create.”

For Issa Rae’s HOORAE Media, Pull Up has been a chance to actively uplift and celebrate artists and makers who are shaping our culture at large. “We share a core set of values in empowering creators of color with access and resources,” Issa says, “so I'm thrilled my team and I get to be on this journey with the other creators in the initiative."

How to participate

If you’re seeking to accelerate your creative career, connect with a community of creators of color who get it, and be part of the magic, sign up to join Pull Up.

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