Dylan Rhudd struggled after graduation to find a space where he could combine his passion for photography with his degree in marketing.
“I was trying to figure out what realm I wanted to fall into,” said Rhudd, a 2017 marketing alumnus. “I realized…that things can get so monotonous from work to home to work to home. And it feels very robotic after a while.”
Rhudd, along with other alumni and former students founded Only Elite Matters, a media agency that curates photo and video content for digital branding. Rhudd, along with Joshua Oritz, a 2018 strategic communications alumnus, Amaria Estes, a 2018 advertising alumnus, and Sam Colon, a former advertising student, plan and host events around the city, like panels, art shows and photography meetups, and their events cover topics like women’s rights, diversity and mental health.
On Oct. 19, Only Elite Matters hosted their fourth annual “The Funeral” series, which explored mental health through art, music and community. The series seeks to break down the stigma surrounding mental illness, Rhudd said.
“Mental health is something that people don’t commonly talk about in public,” said Colon, the agency’s creative director. “We just want to create, share these ideas in a different light, and create the spaces to have these conversations.”
Only Elite Matters began in April 2016, to improve the quality of college events and parties by promoting local creatives. They invited musicians to perform, vloggers to cover the events to showcase artworks by local artists.
“When you’re getting closer to graduation, and you’re moving out of the college space, you don’t think about parties in the same way,” Rhudd said. “You’re not as enthusiastic about having a bunch of people in a room without a specific direction.”
Their current events are about women’s empowerment, conversations on mental health and promoting local artists, photographers and dancers.
“Everything is more meaningful, intentional and purposeful,” Rhudd said. That’s how we’ve been moving since we’ve gotten out of the college space, just doing everything with a purpose.”
Only Elite Matters also has an internship program that started in 2017 for students to create art content, assist in event planning and apply their art skills to business, Rhudd said.
Rahael Atkerson, a sophomore business major at the Community College of Philadelphia, interned with Only Elite Matters in 2018, working on the brand’s social media. Atkerson is now the social media manager alongside Rhudd.
“I really believe in their vision, the platform that they’re trying to build, and helping artists to network and grow their own platforms,” Atkerson said. ‘I think it’s good to learn from people your age and to learn together.”
Rhudd hopes that Only Elite Matters will become a resource for young creatives in Philadelphia, which he said can be obtained through collaborative efforts with aspiring creatives and sticking to their core value of living their truth.
“We create with a purpose,” Ortiz said. “It’s about living in our truths. The reason we create our events is because this is our story, our narrative, and we want to keep pushing that.”