Rita Forte: From KMEL’s DJ backside to Olive Street Agency owner

Rita-Forte-outside-her-Olive-Street-Agency-in-East-Oakland-1400x1050, Rita Forte: From KMEL’s DJ backside to Olive Street Agency owner, Local News & Views
Rita Forte, long known as DJ backside at KMEL, stands outside her new marketing business location, The Olive Street Agency in East Oakland, at 5849 MacArthur Blvd. Learn more at https://www.theolivestreetagency.com/.

by People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey, SF Bay View Oakland Bureau

Once known as KMEL’s DJ backside, Rita Forte is a businesswoman who has taken her experiences from working at a major commercial radio station and managing her mother’s cafe in downtown Oakland to a new plateau: opening The Olive Street Agency, located in the heart of East Oakland. It is a marketing company for people who need merchandising and social media management. 

Having been a radio pillar of the Hyphy era, becoming a major marketing agent only makes sense in the business trajectory of someone who has already laid many of the stones locally for people to see her in that light. I hope that the community comes out to support this Black women owned business in East Oakland and checks out what she has to say about starting and running her business. 

JR Valrey: What made you want to start Olive Street Agency? What services do you offer? 

Rita Forte: I started The Olive Street Agency in 2012 as a result of what I learned as a DJ for 10 years: marketing. I had learned a few strong marketing skills that I felt like I could offer and provide for others, so creating a service based company to do that resulted in The Olive Street Agency. We offer four main marketing services: merchandising (screenprinting/embroidery, graphic design, video content creation) and social media management. 

JR Valrey: Why do you think that this kind of business is needed in East Oakland? 

Rita Forte: These services that we offer are definitely needed in East Oakland because I believe there are hidden gems of greatness in East Oakland, from artists to businesses and more, that need to be marketed. 

Rita-Forte, Rita Forte: From KMEL’s DJ backside to Olive Street Agency owner, Local News & Views
Rita Forte

JR Valrey: You have been into radio as well as a coffee shop owner in Oakland. What made you get into printing? 

Rita Forte: Yes, something I said at the Grand Opening of this production print space is that I really have been a “marketer” my whole professional career. As a DJ on the radio and being in the music industry – Music is a form of marketing, and a DJ is an agent, hence Agency. 

And then the coffee shop was actually owned by my Mom, and I was the manager of it for its last three years of operation. These experiences definitely influenced where I am today and how I run my business. 

How I got into screenprinting and embroidery is when I was a DJ, around 2004 or 2005, I had a mixtape series called “Got Bay?” and I began printing shirts to help to promote them. I continued to have a clothing line and learned more about merch and printing. 

Then from 2012-2014 I worked for another Black owned print shop called CLP printing, where I really learned much of what I know to this day about the screen printing and embroidery apparel business. I am grateful for that opportunity and the journey to now. After seeing how the manufacturing apparel business was run, I was excited to offer it to my clients by offering the service through The Olive Street Agency.

JR Valrey: What advice do you have for young business owners? 

Rita Forte: Experiment! Try things. Take risks. And find money. Also, I believe you are on the right path if you find having a business a journey of self discovery and spiritual growth.

JR Valrey: How has business been so far? 

Rita Forte: Business has been as expected so far, I would say. We look forward to the day we break even, but for now we are focused on building our new foundation for our merch printing services. We are getting some real good interest from new clients, and our normal and past clients are excited for the introduction of this in-house printing space as well.

JR Valrey: How do you want people to feel after doing business with you? 

Rita Forte: Love this question. I definitely want people to feel doing business with The Olive Street Agency is a beneficial and fair process and transaction/interaction.

JR Valrey: How can people get in touch with you? 

Rita Forte: Please be in touch via phone, at 510-969-4295 or email, at info@theolivestreetagency.com. Also follow us on Instagram: @olivestagency.

JR Valrey, journalist, author, filmmaker and founder of Black New World Media, heads the SF Bay View’s Oakland Bureau. He can be reached at blockreportradio@gmail.com or on Facebook. Visit www.BlackNewWorldMedia.com to read more.