Dr. La Toya Luces-Sampson is a physician and an entrepreneur. An extremely dynamic woman, she is the proud owner of 2 businesses. La Toya is the CEO and founder of Buy Default, a curated directory of Black professionals and Black businesses who cater and serve the Black community. She is also the president and CEO of her own OBGYN practice Amina OBGYN Consultants, an independent contracting company that provides hospital based services.
In this Episode You’ll Learn
Why she started Buy Default
Why the focus has shifted from a curated directory of Black professionals and businesses
Why she is focusing more on black physicians
Social Media Links :
Personal: @drtoyamd on IG and TikTok
[00:00:00] Paula: Hi. I am Paula Okonneh, the host of “Chatting With The Experts”, which is a podcast for immigrant women from Africa and the Caribbean. These women have relocated to Europe, North America, and even Australia. In this podcast, we talk about our struggles, but we also highlight the triumphs that we have experienced. And at the same time, we try to share resources and share our experiences so that our fellow immigrant sisters can benefit from them. Today I have the pleasure of talking with a fellow Caribbean sister. She’s from Trinidad and Tobago and her name is Dr. La Toya Luces Sampson. I’ll tell you a bit about her. She’s a wife, she’s a mother, but she’s also a board certified OBGYN, and wait for it and an entrepreneur. As I mentioned, she’s from Trinidad. She earned her bachelor’s and medical degrees from Howard University and completed a six year BSMD program. She trained at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. Woohoo. My children went to school there, U Penn. And currently she lives with her family in Northern California. Dr. Toya, as she’s known on social media, is the founder and CEO of “Buy Default”. Which is a curated directory of black businesses and black professionals who cater to the black community. And she feels she found her entrepreneurial path so that she could come out of burnt out and a toxic work environment. Is there anything I’ve left out, Dr. Latoya? I know you are fascinating, that’s why I said thank you for saying yes.
[00:01:54] LaToya: No, you’ve covered it all. I do have a second business now. But yes, everything you said is correct. I am a very proud Triny, a Tribagonian. I’m happy to be here, thank you.
[00:02:07] Paula: Absolutely. I like that phrase. I haven’t heard that. I’ve heard Triny, but I haven’t heard Tri. Tell me that one again.
[00:02:14] LaToya: Trinbagonian. Yes.
[00:02:17] Paula: I love it. Haven’t heard it. All right. So you said, I said everything. So your formal education was not here. You began schooling for you was in Trinidad, correct?
[00:02:28] LaToya: Yes, I did up until secondary school there. I did A levels there. And then I came to Howard when I was 18.
[00:02:36] Paula: Okay. And for those who’ve never heard of A Levels, can you tell them a bit about what A levels are?
[00:02:43] LaToya: Yes. So in, we Caribbean, specifically in Trinidad, follow the British school system. So we have forms, we go up to form five, and then you have a set of exams and some people can come to the United States and go to university after that. Or you can do advanced, there’s a name for it that I can’t remember right now. But you can do advanced studies. It’s a little bit fewer subjects, and that’s for two years. And then another set of exams that in my day was set by England, and now they have a Caribbean body that gives the exams. And for me, it gave me the equivalent of 21 transfer credits. So I basically had the first year of my undergraduate degree gone because I did A Levels. Specifically at Howard, because not a lot of places would take the transfer credits.
[00:03:35] Paula: Awesome. So you’ve educated my listeners who are not familiar with the British system. Yeah. It’s pretty rigorous. Oh my gosh. All right. So you came to Howard. You decided when you got to Howard that you’re gonna do medicine, or this was something you always wanted to do.
[00:03:52] LaToya: Yeah, so I always knew I wanted to be a physician. It wasn’t necessarily that I wanted to be just any old doctor. I wanted to be an OBGYN from the beginning. And I actually got into medical school in Trinidad at the University of the West Indies, or UE, as we call it. And I wanted to come to the United States because my sisters also did university here. So it was kind of what I thought was the norm. So when I got to Howard, I didn’t know about their combined program, the BSMD program. I found out about it and then I applied and got in. And the reason that I wanted to do it is because, again, the British system in Trinidad, it’s a five year schooling to get to be a doctor, and that’s what seemed normal to me. So six years was just like, yeah, why would I go through eight years, you know, four of undergrad and four of medical school when I can do six? So it just seemed like what I knew. So I went for it and it was great. I got two years of, of the formal education.
[00:04:55] Paula: Awesome. I like that. You came here, you were determined, you knew what you wanted, and you came and you got it. And so before we came on, we talked about another, well, I did talk about it as I was introducing you. You have another business that you’re doing. Tell us about it. What’s the name and why did you start it?
[00:05:14] LaToya: Yeah, so the first business is called “Buy Default”, like you mentioned, and the second business is called “Amina OBGYN Consultants”. And it’s the independent contracting company that I do my actual medical work under. So, You know, I left my toxic work environment, as you mentioned. I was an employed physician for a large corporate medicine company, and I decided that I wanted no more parts of that. So I still wanted to be able to serve my patients. I still love being an OBGYN and I decided that I would only do hospital work and contract with hospitals that needed coverage. Because there are quite a few of them. So that’s what I’m doing currently.
[00:06:01] Paula: All right. Okay, so that’s related. You stopped working for the man and you started working for the woman, yourself.
[00:06:10] LaToya: The man. Exactly.
[00:06:17] Paula: That’s awesome. I love it. And in addition to that, so you’re independent contractor. Yeah. In addition to that, you do something else. Can you talk a bit about that?
[00:06:27] LaToya: You mean “Buy Default”?
[00:06:29] Paula: “Buy Default”. Yes.
[00:06:31] LaToya: Yes. Okay. So my first business is “BuyDefault”, as you mentioned, a curated directory of black owned businesses and black professionals who cater to the black community. You know, I help the black community feel catered to feel special, feel celebrated by brands and professionals who view them as the ideal client. Everything on the website, the products, the companies, the professionals, everything is Black by default. And that’s where the name comes from. And I started the business in 2021 and it’s grown and it’s taking on a new life, I should say. Right now, as I take a step back from the social media part of it, the website and the directory still exists. But I want to, you know, focus more on the professional services part of it. Because I think I can serve the community the best in that way, because I am a physician and I have access. And I think there’s a great need for black doctors right now, and patients really wanna know where they can find black physicians because they can get the care that they deserve. So I want to start focusing more on that aspect, because of my unique access there. So we are in a bit of a transition, as I transitioned personally from employed to, you know, independent and other life challenges. I’ve not been as active on social media, but the website is still there and you know, things are happening behind the scenes.
[00:08:12] Paula: Awesome, awesome. So like all businesses, you saw a need and you created a solution to that need. And that need for you in particular, was serving or creating a directory where black, African-American, African, African diaspora could find physicians and other professionals. People who look like them and possibly had the same, in your case, medical needs to be served. Because we know that medically there’s some diseases or some illnesses that are specific to our race. And so that’s what you’re doing?
[00:08:50] LaToya: Yes. And you know, it started off a little bit differently. So the main drive for me was the product part of it where I was focused on the black own businesses. And you know, the reason that I started the business in general was, you know, in 2018 I was looking for products for my hair. And I found that these big name brands, even though they had the marketing that seemed like it was for me. You know, they had earth tones. All their bottles were gold. You know, it seemed like you know, hey, black people, this is for you. It just seemed really disingenuous and it took me back to a memory that I had from the first time I ever visited the United States when I was 10. I saw a bottle of shampoo that said, “for normal hair”. And I just remember being very confused and I couldn’t understand what they meant by normal. Are you talking about me? Like who is normal? And because I never had experience like that in Trinidad. Because I was normal. Everybody kind of looks like me. Everybody is brown, you know? So of course at 10, I didn’t dig too deep into it. I forgot about that situation in particular. But the feeling of confusion and that memory always stayed with me. And when I returned to the United States and made my life here, you know, I realized, okay, this is what they meant. It’s not me. Somebody else’s normal, somebody else’s default, and I am other than. And I wanted to really try to find the businesses that were catering to me and that thought that I was normal, that I was a default instead of the ones that were just after my marketing dollars. So I started looking for the black on businesses that created hair products and different things. And you know, if anybody could remember all the way back to 2018, social media and things was not what they are today. You couldn’t find a lot of businesses on Instagram. People were not promoting their businesses there. It was really just people taking selfies. That’s all Instagram was, right? So it was very difficult to find these businesses. So I was like, why can’t there be one place where I can just find a listing? You know? I just wanted to be easy. And at that time I was still fully employed, busy, never thought that I would start a business. So I kind of just put it to the back of my mind. But in 2020 when I had my son, my hair started to fall out postpartum. So again, it came back to me, you know, I need to find these hair products. I really wanna find it from a black owned business. And like most people during the pandemic, I realized, you know, life is short. If not now when? So I decided to start the business, start the directory so that I can really just centralize these businesses in one place and make it very easy to find. Make the directory very easy to search, just because I spend a lot of time shopping online. And there are a lot of features websites such, I’m very particular about. So I made sure I catered to all of that when I was making the directory. It is a very custom website. It’s not just, you know, something you can create. So I found a black developer, actually from South Africa to help me make it. Cause you know, really want to stay true to my mission. And it created it in 2021, and it’s really, with the website along with the platform. I really wanted to be a place where you go and there is no question that the products on there are for you. You feel catered to, you feel love, you feel special. It is a celebration of black love, black joy, black excellence, and black businesses. So that’s what “Buy default” is really all about.
[00:12:41] Paula: You notice I’m speechless, because I’m not always speechless on my podcast. I mean that really filled me with joy. You said black joy, black energy, celebrating blackness. I have mentioned this on my podcast with some other guests, that we need to change the negative connotation associated with the word black. Why should anything bad be always associated with black? Apart from when your account is in the black, then you have some money, you know right? So I really love what you’re doing, because I mean, it’s not just for you, it’s for the next generation who look like me and you like your son, you know. There’s nothing wrong with being black. We can’t change it. So it is, it is.
[00:13:26] LaToya: Right. It is the best way to be. So yes, it is for everyone. It’s for the cultures. It’s for the diaspora. It’s just to make everyone feel like they should feel special.
[00:13:38] Paula: Yes, So “Buy Default” is on pause just temporarily because of life’s issues.
[00:13:45] LaToya: So, yeah. So the social media, the platform is on pause. The website is still up and running. You can go to the website to search for the different businesses. You can go to website to search for black physicians. The YouTube channel is still there. I have lots and lots of interviews with business owners and some physicians as well. Just to introduce them to the viewers. You can binge them. There are lots of them on there. But you know, a large part of it was my social media presence, and that is what’s on pause. Cause that takes, you know, a lot of time that I don’t have to give right this second. And then the active recruitment of other businesses. So that’s more on the back end is also on pause. And then, you know, not just because of the personal things I have going on. I may do a transition to making it in general a non-profit. Just because it more aligns with my mission and what I see for the future. So making sure that I do that correctly, and I have professional input on that. So there things going on behind the scenes, but the front facing, like the Instagram and things. You’re not really gonna see much from us, but it’s still there. You can definitely go and get the value from it. Go and get your joy from it “@buydefault.com”.
[00:15:07] Paula: Awesome. Thanks for clearing that up. And I also wanted to ask you about the name. It’s a play on words.
[00:15:13] LaToya: Yes.
[00:15:14] Paula: Buy default, buy default.
[00:15:18] LaToya: Yes. Buy. That was my husband actually. So as I mentioned before, you know, the idea of it is, we are told as black people that we are other than. That we are the exception. Other people are normal and we are not normal. Just like that shampoo bottle said, right? But the feeling that I want to convey when you come to “BuyDefaults”, when you come to the platform is that you are the default. Everything about you is normal. It’s unique, but it’s normal. There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re not exotic. You’re not other than. You are the default. Every business, every product, every professional on the website is black by default. So that’s where the name came from. So when I was talking to him about it, he’s like, “Oh, why don’t you do buy? Because you know, people can shop at the different businesses”. I was like, yes that’s it. And luckily he did that because when I went to buy the domain, “by default” was like $35,000 .
[00:16:21] Paula: Oh my God.
[00:16:22] LaToya: I would not have been able to afford that. Anyway, it all worked out for the best that it’s buy. So that’s where the name comes from and that’s where the play on words comes from. So shout out to my husband.
[00:16:35] Paula: Shout out to him all right. Oh boy. Oh boy. I’m so excited. I’m really excited about what you’re doing in all aspects. You know, a guest of mine said, she’s into “STEM” and she’s African American. And she said, you know, she’s into encouraging black girls in particular to get into “STEM”. Because she says, you can’t be what you don’t see. And so people like you are inspirational because they can see people who look like them doing what you’re doing. And being proud of being who you are.
[00:17:07] LaToya: Yes. Thank you.
[00:17:08] Paula: Thank you. All right. But you know, both of us are immigrants and immigrating can be tough. How did you, I mean, you came here at 18. How did you survive? And do you have any, you know, resources for young people who are planning on migrating to, but we’re in the United States, so we talk about the United States.
[00:17:26] LaToya: Yes. Yeah, so I was very fortunate. I was blessed to come into a community that was very strong and very Caribbean. So going to Howard really gave me that cushion. It was like a warm hug. When I came, everybody was either Caribbean or African. And it also helped that my sister was also at another HBCU Morgan State, very close by. So even at the beginning when I didn’t really know anyone. I would hop on a train and go visit my sister and her friends, until I got my own friends, and then I would stay. So, you know, I had that support very early on, and it really helped me make the transition. So it actually wasn’t painful at all. Every question that I had, I could have answered. We had a very strong mentorship community at Howard as well. We had the Caribbean Students Association, and then we had this organization called the International pals. So it was basically like a mentor system. An upperclassman would be your mentor. And, you know, I ended up being very close to mine. She was from Barbados. Not everybody I guess, was as close, but we became very, very close. So that also helped with my transition as well. And even as I transitioned to medical school where there were less Caribbean people, I still had my core. One of my friends is from Trinidad, one is from the Bahamas and one is from Nigeria. And I still talk to them every single day to this day. So, you know, I had that support really from the beginning and I just held onto it throughout my time here. And it’s really, it’s always been like my base. I could always come home to people that get me. Which is kind of the same feeling from “Buy Default”, right? You know, you just have these people that get you, They understand your culture, they understand where you’re coming from. And it can give you the courage and what you need to then branch out and try different things and experience, you know, different cultures in the United States and across the world. So it’s not that you stay in your one cocoon and you don’t branch out, but it’s, it becomes the base, right? So you can always come back home. And I would say that that’s what I would recommend to anyone migrating or some people who are even here and they’re having a hard time, you know, find your people, they are there. The internet is a big place. You can definitely find people a lot easier now than before. And you know, just having that support really just makes you feel so at home and so empowered that you can really go out and have all the experiences that you came here to have, right? Cause that’s why you came. So that would be my advice to anyone who’s coming or who’s here and having a hard time.
[00:20:12] Paula: Find your people. Find your tribes.
[00:20:15] LaToya: Yes.
[00:20:16] Paula: Yeah. Those who get you. Yes. Interesting that you said so, because I was recently home in Grenada, my mom passed, and.
[00:20:24] LaToya: So sorry to hear that.
[00:20:26] Paula: Thank you. And somebody said something that I thought was so interesting. She said, You know, when you’re in the States, you’re home, but you’re inside. But here in Grenada, when you’re home, you’re outside. And I said, what do you mean by that? She said, well, you are out on the veranda or you are, you know, sitting outside. People are passing and saying hi to you. She said this, so there’s that social connection. You’re never really lonely because there’s always something happening around you. And I pondered on that and I said,” mmhmm, yeah, you’re right”. Your home but you’re outside.
[00:21:02] LaToya: Yeah, that’s so funny you said that. My mother was recently here to help with my son, and she loves her house in Trinidad. She loves being in Trinidad. She’d never wanted to leave. She came cause I needed her too. And that was one of her biggest complaints is that, you know, everybody’s inside. Like she’s used to being outside with her plants, talking to her neighbors, you know, just being outside and that was the biggest thing that she missed. So it’s very interesting that you said that cause it’s definitely a difference, at least where I live. Maybe places like New York and stuff, it’s different. But everywhere that I have lived, it’s been just like this.
[00:21:38] Paula: Yep. I live in Maryland and even though my communityis, a lot of people look like me. We’re still inside .
[00:21:47] LaToya: Yeah, right.
[00:21:48] Paula: Oh boy. Girl, it’s been so great talking with you. I have a fun question for you. So you’re from Trinidad and Tobago or Trinibagon? Tri Tri. I got it wrong.
[00:22:03] LaToya: I’m from Trinidad and Tobago. I am a tribagonian, yes.
[00:22:08] Paula: Tribagonian. I have to learn that. Tribagonian. All right, so you’re a Tribagonian.
[00:22:13] LaToya: Yes.
[00:22:14] Paula: Any fun facts about Trinidad and Tobago? Yes. I’ll break it up like that.
[00:22:20] LaToya: Yes, you break it up. It is a twin Island Republic,that’s why we say it together. Trinidad and Tobago. So two different islands. One country, one community. And you know the biggest thing that I would say that you need to know about Trinidad is about Carnival. It is the land of Carnival, the land of Soca music, Calypso. It all started in Trinidad and Tobago, steel pan. Don’t let anybody tell you any differently. It started in Trinidad and Tobago. The only musical instrument ever invented in mid 20th Century was started in Trinidad and Tobago nowhere else. They’ll tell you differently, that’s not true, right? And it’s all part of, you know, our carnival culture. And it is the best thing that you will ever experience. Everyone should have that experience in their life. It is technically a two day celebration, but it’s really several months of celebration. And if you need a frame of reference, it’s around the same time, the same roots as Mardi Gras. I have never been to Mardi Gras and I probably never will be to Mardi Gras just because if I’m going somewhere to celebrate, it will be to Trinidad for Carnival. There will be no alternatives. There are no exceptions. It will be Trinidad. The type of freedom and the type of fun and the vibe you will never feel anywhere else in the world. You’ll never experience anything so great. And you really have to be there and experience it to really know what I am talking about. Because right now, I’m sure I sound crazy. But ask anybody who has never been and then they went, they will tell you it is an experience like no other. So check your calendars, you can always tell when it’s gonna be, it’s right before lent for those who don’t know. Catholic, I guess not just Catholic. But yeah right before Lent the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. It’s indescribable.
[00:24:15] Paula: Yes.
[00:24:16] LaToya: So that’s what I want people to know about Trinidad and Tobago. Tribagonian. Yes.
[00:24:24] Paula: Well, you’ve heard it from Dr. LaToya. She is a Trini tri. I’ll let her say it. I can’t say yet. I Have to practice . So where can you be found online? And though we talked about your two businesses, the first being “Buy Default”, and the second one being, you’re now an independent contractor.
[00:24:42] LaToya: Yes, contractor. So you can find me all sort of places. So “Buy Default” is “BUY DEFAULT.com”. And like I said, the actual directory is there. The interview series that I have with business owners and physicians are on there as well as on the YouTube channel, which is “Buy Default”. And on Instagram it’s “buy_ default”. And Facebook is just “buy default”. And personally, you can find me on LinkedIn. I’m “La Toya Luces-Sampson” on Instagra., on TikTok, I am “Dr. Toya, MD”. And yeah, Facebook, “Dr. Toya L Sampson”. So you can Google, you’ll find me. I’m out there .
[00:25:27] Paula: Don’t you guys just love Dr. LaToya? I do. She’s so full of life. I love, love, love, love, love people like her. And so to my listeners, if you like what you just heard, in this case, Dr. Latoya Luces Samson, head over to “Google Podcasts”, “Spotify”, “Amazon Music”, and of course “Apple Podcast”, and please follow us there or hit subscribe. And if you’d like to be like her, in other words, be a guest. Now, I say like her because she’s unique. No one can be like her. Please head over to my website, which is “www.chattingwithexperts.com/contact us” and just drop me a note. I would love to have you be a guest, if you are from the Caribbean or Africa, or a daughter of women from there. Thank you, La Toya, I enjoyed every bit of this.
[00:26:22] LaToya: Thank you so much. It was an absolute pleasure.
[00:26:25] Paula: And I will say again, thank you for saying yes.
[00:26:28] LaToya: No problem.
[00:26:32] Paula: All right.