“I’m Only As Strong As My Team.”
Creating content is not easy especially when you’re on a tight budget. However, it’s not impossible. That’s why your community is so important. Here are five friends you need in order to excel in this industry. Of course the list varies depending on what you’re doing, but these five friends helped me get to where I am today.
BRAND MANAGER – when I first started my brand I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had part of a vision; God didn’t reveal the other part until I was fully surrendered to Him (that’s a whole other blog post). My friend, Sahirah Johnson @blackis_mymelody, met with me weekly to discuss my brand. A brand manager is able to step outside the content to ensure that it resonates with the audience, and that any content created is in line with the brand.
My biggest issue was I didn’t have a brand. I knew what I wanted to do, but I didn’t know how to turn that into a brand. That’s where Sahirah came in. She’d often take my words and formulate it into content. It was brilliant. She helped me conceptualize my website, set me up on my first photo and video shoots, taught me how to relax and helped to bring out my authentic self. She also told me “No” when the content didn’t fit the brand. Til this day, I’ll post something and if it’s not good enough she’ll message me, “Don’t post that again.” On the contrary when I post something good she’ll say, “This is good.” Lol I love having real friends.
STYLIST – I’m fashionably impaired. I’d love to say that my looks are all me, but I often ask my friend, Sade’ Solomon, @sadesolomon, to style me for important events. For a long time, I didn’t know my style, I wore very bland colors, and I wouldn’t take risks with my outfit. She’d often ask me, “What’s your style?” And I’d reply, “Plain Jane.” As my brand grew, I needed to create a lot of content and that included more photo shoots. How was I going to shoot all the time with limited clothing? Sade’ told me about Rent the Runway. I was hooked once I got a taste . She’d pick out bright colors, unique tops, and outfits that made my shape pop. People took notice, it enhanced my brand, I even got a new job (check out my blog post How God and Rent the Runway Got Me a New Job). Til this day, I’ll send some of my clothing options to Sade’ for approval if I feel unsure or if I want to take my outfits to the next level.
PHOTOGRAPHER – My Ex used to be my photographer. He had a way of capturing my beauty and memorializing it. When we broke up, I was heartbroken and afraid to work with another photographer. I was awkward in front the camera and feared that I would waste another photographer’s time because I needed a lot of direction. But God is not mocked. He was the one that led me down this path; therefore, He was the one that would supply my every need. He opened the door for me to meet Debbie Lemonte @thelocdbella, an amazing NYC photographer. The first day I shot with her I wanted to cry. In fact, I think I did. She just doesn’t know it. I talk about this more in my Inspo, “A Beautiful Trip.” She was confident, happy, and unbothered by my awkwardness. She captured a part of me that was lost in my unhealthy relationship. She captured the real me. My true identity. And til this day we still work together and I can trust that she will capture my vision.
HAIR/MAKEUP ARTIST – I clearly don’t know how to beat my face, nor can I braid to save my life, but my friends Rachel Auguste @cheveuxauguste, Phillissia Fields @Phoenixgwenbeauty, and Britnee Kristine @britneekristine, are my saving grace. When I went natural I had to re learn my hair texture. I was forced to face the coarseness and thickness of my hair. It’s something I ran away from for so long because I was teased for it. But Rachel styles my hair every chance she gets. She specializes in natural hair and protective styles. Britnee maintains my hair whenever I’m in Bayonne, NJ at her Black Owned Hair Salon [check out my IGTV for my experience with her]. She is a celebrity hair and make up artist and slowed down to become an entrepreneur. Phillissia is my forever makeup artist whenever she’s in town. She’s self taught, specializes in special effects make up and she always has me looking like a snack at my photo shoots. The best thing about Philli is she’s self taught. Her raw talent is inspiring and powerful and her passion shows in her artwork.
IT – One thing I hate is when my computer freezes, a hard drive crashes or I get a new computer and need inexpensive software. I create a lot of videos, which means I need the latest and greatest software and hardware there is for cheap. My friend Denisha Wilson @msmcfierce, helps me with this. A woman in engineering, she’s a two-time Emmy Award winner for her work at NBC, she simplifies technology for me. She’s knowledgeable and always offers tips and tricks I could use to optimize the storage on my computer, or apps I could use to write scripts. Her advice saves me a lot of time and money.
Those are my friends. And trust, God has blessed me with so much more. It’s amazing whenever I get to work with my friends. It takes the pressure off and reminds me that I don’t have to do it all. Having a supportive team helped me elevate my brand and took me to the next level. Their presence, their work reminds me that I’m not in this alone.