Amani Olu first discovered his entrepreneurial spirit as a young boy growing up in North Philadelphia in the 1980s. The middle child in a family filled with girls, he was often left to his own devices. One day, while exploring an electric facility near his home, he came upon a series of dusty, but glittering, rocks. To others this might have looked like trash, but Olu realized with a little bit of love and polish he could turn them into something beautiful—and maybe even marketable. Olu then set up a makeshift corner shop, and within hours sold the entire collection. This experience sparked a lifelong passion for spotting and sharing rare treasures. It was also his first experience working as an independent businessman.
As a restless teenager, Olu opted out of the traditional academic route for a magnet business school where, as a tenth grader, he learned to write marketing proposals and business plans. Through a work-study program, he became a valued member of the GlaxoSmithKline Shared Services department, balancing petty cash and reconciling outstanding rebate checks to healthcare professionals, all the while participating in college-level, extra curricular classes at the Fox School of Business & Management at Temple University.
In college, Olu discovered another passion: breakdancing. After four years of part-time study, he left Temple to become a professional dancer and immersed himself in the local scene. In 2002, he founded B.INFORMED, a print and web-based publication focusing on local art, music, and culture. His curiosity, drive, and entrepreneurial spark continued to compel him to seek new and challenging roles. In August 2005, with just $500, he moved to NYC to pursue a career in the arts. Two weeks later, he landed a Photo Editor position at Shutterstock. Under the mentorship of Jon Oringer, New York’s first tech billionaire, he learned to run a successful business, spot innovation, and market winning ideas.
While at Shutterstock, Olu met photographer Jon Feinstein, and partnered to create Humble Arts Foundation, a 501c3 that supports and promotes new photography. During this period Olu also co-authored Humble's The Collector’s Guide to New Art Photography Vol. 1 and 2 (2008, 2010) and launched his popular Young Curators, New Ideas exhibition series. In 2011, he took on a role as an art publicist at Nadine Johnson & Associates, where he had a strong hand in taking the Dallas Art Fair international, strategizing the rebrand of the Marlborough Chelsea, and launching the Brant Foundation Study Center, also working with artists such as Luis Gispert, FriendsWithYou, and Lola Schnabel, among many others. After leaving to open a gallery – which he ultimately decided against – he worked as Managing Editor at Whitewall, a premiere luxury and arts publication, directing the web version of the magazine. The entrepreneurial bug soon hit him again, and he left Whitewall to establish Olu & Company. During this time, he also co-founded The MEDIUM Group with Larry Ossei-Mensah. The duo promoted a party, Cocktails and Curators, taught a class, The Rules: How to Play the Art Game Without Sacrificing Artist Integrity, and published M Daily. Eighteen months later, he took a short break to work with McClelland. Here, he managed the U.S. media relations for The Armory Show (2015) and developed marketing strategies for Artspace.
With his trademark style and infectious smile, Olu is easily one of the most recognizable figures in the art world. As a marketer, independent curator, and an artist in his own right under the moniker “Scott Avery,” Olu has worked in many capacities to promote creatives, businesses, and organizations both large and small. His work over the last decade has been impressive, but it has been his drive, creative problem-solving ability, and keen eye that have all established him as a highly south after marketing and business consultant for the arts. – Laura Feinstein