Brittni Brown | CEO | PR Specialist | Philanthropist
When did you have your first taste of entrepreneurship?
I had my first experience while I was in college. When I studied at Eastern, I was a part of an organization where we hosted fashion shows. In doing this, I fell in love with Public Relations because it was my role to get people excited about actually attending the fashion show. One day I said to myself, I think I want to do this on my own. I wanted to have my own business so that I could actually have creative control of what I do, so that's where that thought process came from.
Have you always been a natural communicator or did you have to practice your craft over time?
No, I was always a natural communicator. Since I was younger, I've always had a creative mind, and I've always wanted to create things and communicate on my own. I was very outspoken as well. There was never a time where I was shy, or I felt like I was talking or doing too much. I always had a gift of gab and I was also knowledgeable of what's going on in the world.
You started The Bee Brown Agency while still at Eastern Michigan University. Did you have an adequate work-life balance while you were an undergraduate student?
I'm not going to sugarcoat it. It was very hard because, at times, I forgot what I was doing at Eastern. I only wanted to focus on my business, so there were times where I focused more on completing resumes and biographies, but then I had to understand that I was at Eastern to get a degree, so I had to complete the process. I didn't get the balance aspect until I graduated because I started my business while being in college. I really didn't have any direction, but I knew that I wanted to have a company, so when I started contracting more clients and people became abreast of what I was doing, I knew that my balance had to be on point. Now, sometimes it's not going to always be on point because, depending on if you're an entrepreneur, or providing a service, people are depending on you. So if your balance isn't correct, then everything is going to go to shambles. If my balance is off, then they're balance is off. Balance is an art. It's not something that you can read a book on or something that someone can actually teach you. It comes with time.
You told me that you will never reach the top until you die. Walk me through that mindset.
So, a lot of people say that I'm very successful and famous, and I just don't allow that at all because, at the end of the day, I don't define my success by accolades or awards. I think success is a good thing, but I think it blinds people's perception of what their mission is within their role of being an entrepreneur. My mission is to educate individuals and give a voice to individuals who may not have that voice to expand and tell their story. When you receive an accolade or award, that shouldn't stop you. It should motivate you to do even more. Sometimes, people get so caught up with the success that they forget about why they started in the first place. Everyone has their own definition of success. My definition of success is that you're actually living, breathing, and doing what you love to do, while also filling a void in your community. My work is not measured. My work is what I know I need to do. That's my mindset.
Talk about the purpose of The Bee Agency.
Detroit is a budding space right now for entrepreneurship, business owners, and growing professionals. I am one of them, so that's why I moved Downtown. My vision and my goal are me being able to take people's brands, reach out to people on a national level and explain to them why this person is worthy of their attention. I'm also an advocate for millennial entrepreneurship because it's such a negative connotation attached to millennial's today. Every day is rewarding because I get to see my clients receiving opportunities such as speaking at Ted Talks, getting recognized by The Detroit Regional Chamber, etc., and they all are under the age of 30. I'm also under the age of 30 so that's why I take pride in everything that I do. Also, before anyone can become a client of the Agency, you have to go through an actual review. We don't just accept anyone. We want to make sure that you match what we represent as a company.
I can imagine that you get emails from people all the time asking to be a part of the agency.
Yes, I do. At the end of the day, we just want to make sure you're ready because a lot of people assume they're ready for PR when they actually aren't which is why I educate people.
I don't want to take anyone's money and they don't know why I'm doing the things that I'm doing.
What would you tell a young person who has an entrepreneurial spirit, but doesn't want to jump into the collegiate world?
Well, it's tricky, because for me, I'm not even using my degree right now, but people wouldn't know who I am if I didn't make connections while I was in college. I would encourage anyone to do it, but you have to have some type of plan. Owning a business is not easy. It's not something that you can just wake up and do unless you are a celebrity and you know that you're going to get a return on your investment automatically. A lot of people want to start a business, but you have to have a solid plan. So I would recommend getting a business manager or mentor who can help you map out a five-year plan. Talk to a brand strategist. And finally, don't think about PR when you've just started your business. Now we know plans may fail, but somehow you have to think realistically in terms of your business. Is this something that's needed? Is this something that's going to bring you money? Is this something that's going to bring you a comfortable lifestyle for you and your family? It's also not an issue if you want to get a part-time, or full-time job while working on your business on the side. We all have bills, and we all live in a country where we have to pay to live. Just make sure you're comfortable with your decision.