For Women’s History Month I wanted to recognize three amazing millennial women that happen to be within my friend circle. I admire them for their tenacity, passion, continued accomplishments and originality. I chatted with these ladies about their unique professional journeys, women that inspire them, and advice that they would give to millennial women. See how they are creating their own rules to live their best lives.
Meet Briaan L. Barron: Lover of aesthetics, CEO of her own branding business Branding By Bri, and chocolate marketer.
1. Share your business journey. How did you transition from being a scholar at Sarah Lawrence College to creating Branding By Bri?
Branding By Bri is actually the third or fourth iteration of my business. In 2012, during my third year of college, I launched Bri-Dimensional Images, which was a graphic design and illustration company where I designed graphics primarily for nonprofits and activists. Later on, I added brand consulting to my services and began to work with small business owners. I found that entrepreneurship and community economics were solutions to many of the social causes I cared about, so I became very interested in helping entrepreneurs from traditionally underrepresented groups. Branding By Bri was really a culmination of the lessons I learned from Bri-Dimensional Images and the skills I’d gained through my 9 to 5 Marketing positions.
2. What women inspire you and why?
The women in my family are my main source of inspiration. They’re all very self-sufficient and have managed to create abundant lives for themselves and their children even when circumstances weren’t in their favor. In the creative industry, I’ve been very inspired by filmmaker and director Melina Matsoukas and Janelle Monae. For a long time, I wanted to be a music video director, which is how I came across Matsoukas’ work. I appreciated the fact that I could recognize her aesthetic in a video even without seeing her name in the credits, and she was making an artistic mark that held its own on content that belonged to major artists like Rihanna and Beyonce. Both she and Janelle Monae are women who have taken command over a particular artistic point of view and made it penetrate the mainstream entertainment landscape, and I have a lot of respect for that.
3. One piece of advice for emerging women business owners and/or creatives.
I would advise emerging women in business to believe wholeheartedly in the value of their work, and be prepared to stand up for it in a professional manner. Especially if you work in a field or profession that is chronically undervalued, like the arts or in healing work, you have to be prepared to assert what you’re worth and refuse to entertain anyone who doesn’t respect that.
Meet Chanelle Bell: Community activist, former preschool teacher and adjunct college professor.
During my college career at Fordham University, I wrote for the largest Black published newspaper in Northern California called The Oakland Post. My stories were centered on education, the youth, and the Black community. My senior year of college, Teach For America recruited me after finding my articles. I joined the corps and was placed in Chicago to teach.
I don’t believe in accidents. I believe that I was placed here to be grounded in my familial history so that I can better understand my purpose. I taught for 2 years and it was like someone had finally turned the lights on. Yes, I grew up Black in America, yes I have experienced discrimination and racism, but I also grew up privileged. I never had to worry about where my next meal was coming from or if I had clean clothes to wear to school. Teaching beautiful and brilliant Black children in a low-income neighborhood opened my eyes to even more realities of oppression.
After my 2 years I realized I was more passionate about civic engagement than I was about instruction and so I transitioned into my current role as a Community Organizer for Noble Network of Charter Schools, the largest high school charter school network in Chicago. In my role as an organizer I uplift our families by connecting them with services that they may need.
2. What women inspire you and why?
There are soo many women that inspire me! This world is filled with spectacular women who are reshaping everything to be more progressive and inclusive. I am just in awe. My biggest inspirations are my mother Brenda Hudson, my grandmother Elizabeth Bell, Mary McLeod Bethune, Fannie Lou Hamer, Angela Davis, Oprah, Maya Angelou, Ava DuVernay, Lynn Nottage, and Issa Rae.
3. One piece of advice for emerging community activists.
My one piece of advice for emerging community activists is to allow yourself space to grow and change. Don’t allow other people or organizations stunt your personal growth.
Meet Sunny Dae: World traveler, life enthusiast, dream-chaser.
1. Share your career journey. How did you get to a major television network?
My career journey has been a bit unorthodox, which I find, makes for the best stories and the sweetest victories. While in undergrad at UC Berkeley, my plan was to attend law school upon graduation. After a lot of soul searching and introspective work, I decided I no longer wanted to practice law or pursue my JD....about 3 months before graduation. LAWD! I decided instead, that I was going to join the workforce for a couple of years and then pursue my MBA. I moved to Portland and gained experience in accounting and budgeting, brand development, securing loans, grant writing, sales, market research...I traveled and worked across the country and around the world. After about a year and a half with the company I decided I wanted to pursue the GMAT more heavily so I applied to be a flight attendant, an experience that allowed me to do work that was not too mentally demanding (although very physically demanding) while I studied for the killer that is the GMAT. While preparing for the GMAT and B-School applications I was approached by my best friend with an opportunity that I simply could not turn down, the chance to work at Television Network in my hometown, Los Angeles. Ummm ABSOLUTELY! While interviewing for the position, I recognized just how divinely the universe had aligned my life...and I thought I was doing the planning, HA! This position required a lot of the new skills that I had developed working for the start up, and fortunately, working for an airline rather than a demanding 9-5 gave me the flexibility to commit to the arduous interview process for the network. While I spent many a day leading up to graduation crying from the pressure and fear of "not knowing what I was going to do next”, I now smile and rest easy, knowing that there was a much more divine plan that had already been set in motion to get me to where I am today.
2. What women inspire you and why?
I am a firm believer that you are a reflection of the people you surround yourself, that said I am fortunate enough to have a tribe of women within my family and friends (who are also my family) who inspire and motivate me daily. I am inspired by my mommy, grandmothers, sisters and aunts who are all so resilient, creative, strong, intelligent, outspoken and authentically themselves! My tribe of sister friends who are all so ambitious, independent, determined, empathetic and encouraging, a tribe of future attorneys, business women, community leaders, educators, entrepreneurs, executives, humanitarians, mothers and wives. Last but not least, I inspire myself! No matter what road blocks I encounter, I remain resilient, reflective and I always make a way!
3. One piece of advice for the millennial woman, just trying to figure it out.
My one piece of advice for the millennial woman is to pursue what makes YOU happy. If I have learned nothing else on my journey so far, I've learned that no matter how fun, interesting or exciting your work/industry is, if you are not doing what you actually want to do you will never truly be fulfilled. I don't give this advice to be cliché, I say it because I have experienced the lack of passion and motivation that comes from not pursuing what your spirit actually wants to pursue. That said, I have transitioned out of a role in seemingly one of the most exciting industries and brands in the world, to take my own advice. Now that I am actively doing the work that I have always LOVED, I feel an indescribable sense of exhilaration, joy and liberation!