As Maritza Davis moves on to Kings, Unseen Heroes looks to the future

You can’t tell the story of Sacramento’s growth without telling the story of Maritza ’07 (Communication Studies) and Roshaun Davis ’08 (Journalism).

The couple’s award-winning events agency, Unseen Heroes, is responsible for some of the region’s biggest public events, including GATHER: Oak Park and the Midtown Farmers Market.

But change has come as the agency moves into its second decade. After 10 years with the company she founded with her husband, Maritza recently took on a new role as the vice president of experience and social responsibility for the Sacramento Kings. Her responsibilities will include managing the Kings’ events team, which puts on more than 350 events annually, and the community impact team, which runs programs such as the Junior Kings and supports and participates in a wide variety of community activities and initiatives.

We spoke with Maritza and Roshaun about Maritza’s new job, Sacramento State’s role in the community, and the next big thing for Unseen Heroes.

Why did you feel now was the time to move on from Unseen Heroes and take the role with the Kings?

Maritza: I felt like it’s a pivotal time for our city. Sacramento is like a teenager. We’re trying to get into the running with our cool older sister Los Angeles and older brother San Francisco. Teenagers are a little bit awkward. We are learning how we fit into California. The time is now for us to grow into adulthood. The Kings are the only major league team that we have in the city. The NBA is progressive and evolves at the rate in which a sports team should. My expertise in community development and event production are two unique worlds. I want to share that with the Kings organization and support the vision of our ownership and leaders. Ultimately we are one big family as a city and it is our time to shine.

Roshaun: I think it’s amazing. Sometimes when you develop a concept and kind of push it into reality, you get bogged down by that concept or that role. For her to be able to grow into another position and still have Unseen Heroes run is just a testament to the well-oiled machine that we’ve become. This business has become bigger than both of us.

Looking back on the past 10 years of running Unseen Heroes with Maritza, what are you proudest of?

Roshaun: I think the thing that I’m proudest of is actually being able to see things come to fruition now with such ease that weren’t attainable 10 years ago. I sit at different events and I see different things happening in the city that we aren’t producing but I know that the work we put in over the last 10 years indirectly or directly has attributed to that thing happening. That’s a cool space to be in because it makes me proud of all the hard work and determination we pushed. We believed in the city in a way not a lot of people did 10 years ago, and to see the city actually living up to the belief that we put in, that energy that we put in, that love that we put in, that’s amazing.

Why is being involved in your community so important to you?

Maritza: We all need each other, whether you recognize it or not. The connection to other people, the connection to how we all live, is monumental. It’s great to have resources like parks, but what makes the park come to life and be relevant are the people. To me community means everything, it’s what makes the world go ’round.

How do you view Sac State’s role in and impact on the community?

Maritza: Sac State, especially in recent years, has done such an amazing job of getting involved. It is not a university that is just watching from the sidelines, instead they get involved with what’s happening in our city. For a university like Sac State to get involved with existing students and alumni is strong evidence of the dedication they have to the growth of their student body both past and present.

Roshaun: Sac State produces a lot of graduates who are doing some cool things right now. A lot of the people who we work with are actually graduates of Sac State. That’s just a testament to being open, to educating the community here, and then developing them in a way that allows them to contribute back to the community. It’s a vital role and I think Sac State plays that perfectly.

What’s in the pipeline for Unseen Heroes?

Roshuan: Right now we just landed a big contract with Electrify America. Over the next 10 months, there will be an initiative called Sac-To-Zero introducing electric car sharing and electric charge stations to the Sacramento market. We’re producing a series of launch parties and signature events for them. It really changes the face of this green movement in our city, and is being used as a test market to see how it can be run in different cities as well. For that to be on our plate, have that opportunity to really grow that program, and see it being implemented nationally is really cool for us to have our hands in.

Read our 2015 Made at Sac State story about Maritza and Roshaun at csus.edu/made/davis.

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Unseen Heroes celebrate the region’s roots with Sacratomato Week & Festival

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Sacratomato Week runs June 18-23 and will culminate with a festival at Sutter’s Fort. (Sacramento State/Jayla Lee)

Younger generations may not be aware, but Sacramento has a long history with tomatoes – so much so that decades ago, the city was nicknamed “The Big Tomato.” There was even a proposal to paint the giant water tower along Interstate 5 in South Sacramento to resemble a big red berry.

Fast-forward to the present, and that history is more than enough reason to throw a party.

On Monday, July 18, the third annual Sacratomato Week kicks off as a six-day love letter to all things tomato. Hosted by the Midtown Business Association and centered in the city’s Sutter District, the week features the area’s best restaurants and nightlife – including Biba, Red Rabbit and Paragary’s – boasting tomato-themed menus. The week culminates with the Sacratomato Festival at Sutter’s Fort on Saturday, July 23.

Roshaun Davis of Unseen Heroes
Unseen Heroes founders Roshaun (pictured) and Maritza Davis are behind some of the region’s most popular events and are producing the Sacratomato Festival. (Sacramento State/Jayla Lee)

When there’s a big celebration of local culture highlighting the people and amenities that make a particular area special, it should come as no surprise that Unseen Heroes are behind it. Since 2008, founders (and Sac State alums) Maritza and Roshaun Davis have been building Sacramento’s cultual identity one epic experience at a time. The couple are behind some of Sacramento’s most popular events – Gather: Oak Park, the Midtown Farmers Market, GOOD: Street Food + Design Market – and have branded and marketed some of midtown’s hottest businesses.

When it comes to commemorating something special, albeit a bit quirky, about Sacramento’s historical identity, the Heroes are a natural fit.

“Our goal for Unseen Heroes and for our city is to show love to our city and to give people a reason to stay, live here, and to be able to find collision spaces to meet one another,” Maritza says.

Sacramento’s history with the tomato goes back to the turn of the 20th century. River levees constructed in the early 1900s allowed for a profusion of fruits and vegetables to spring forth from rich Delta soil. By the 1920s, Sacramento was a center of the fruit and vegetable canning industry.

The city was home to some of the world’s largest canneries, including the Libby, McNeill & Libby cannery on Alhambra Boulevard that is now an office park. California Packing Co., known for its Del Monte veggie brand, operated four canneries in the city; and by the mid-1900s, Campbell’s Soup and the Bercut-Richards Cannery had both set up shop in “The Big Tomato.” As a result, though a hub for all things canned, Sacramento became known best for its love of the tomato.

One doesn’t need to know all that – or, frankly, any of it – to enjoy next weekend’s festival. Instead, patrons can sample special food items and drinks from local restaurants, mix something refreshing at the craft Bloody Mary bar, catch cooking demos from the area’s best chefs, and dance to live music within the walls of historic Sutter’s Fort.

It is yet another signature blend of local culture for which Unseen Heroes have come to be known. And if last year and their past events are any indication, it’ll be a lively, crowded affair.

Sacratomato Week runs July 18-23, and the Sacratomato Festival is from 4-8 p.m. July 23 at Sutter’s Fort. Check it out to get a taste of what the Davises are all about, and keep an eye out for their Made at Sac State feature profile and video — coming soon!

 

Sights (anything but) unseen

When Maritza and Roshaun Davis met at Sacramento State in their first communication studies class together, they had no idea how profound an impact they would have on the cultural landscape of the capital region.

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Maritza Davis (Unseen Heroes)

The Davises are the founders of Unseen Heroes, the events-marketing company behind some of the region’s biggest celebrations of local culture. Having helped launch and manage everything from local urban markets and art festivals to businesses and major conferences, these heroes are anything but unseen.

Last month, Comstocks Magazine recognized Maritza (’07, Communications) and Roshaun (’08, Journalism) as two of the capital’s top emerging young leaders, and this month they’re expanding their already-extensive portfolio in more ways than ever.

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Roshaun Davis (Unseen Heroes)

Kicking off April 15 at Folsom Boulevard and Power Inn Road, the Unseen Heroes’ latest venture, The Market at Power Inn, will feature the team’s signature blend of local food, art, design, beer, music, and more, transforming an otherwise empty lot into a bustling neighborhood hub for a few hours each Friday. “It was a blank canvas for us,” says Roshaun.

In addition, the company’s popular monthly neighborhood block party – Gather: Oak Park – is adding a second location in Rocklin, and its Midtown Farmers Market, which the Unseen Heroes took over in March 2015, is expanding down the block to accommodate nearly 100 vendors after starting out with a couple of dozen.

“Our intentions are always to build these third spaces so people can come out and connect,” Davis says. “It’s a connection point for people to have and explore and learn more about what’s going on in the region and their district, and then also have this place that they’re proud of as well.”

As the Unseen Heroes team gears up for the launch of The Market at Power Inn, which will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Friday, April through October, take a look at some of the sights from past events:

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