Our Communications Chair, Brittany Banks had the opportunity to interview Christina Brown, founder of LoveBrownSugar, which is a digital media platform focused on empowering and inspiring women of color. LoveBrownSugar has evolved from strictly functioning as a blog to now including a second digital media platform called BabyBrownSugar (centered around motherhood), and a digital empowerment community called BrownGirlsLove.
Christina is an awesome resource for women who want to rock it as both mothers and businesswomen – whether working a 9-5 or operating a business/brand – she's the epitome of what it means to be a CHICmom ! Check out the interview below to discover how the mommy of two with a thriving brand and twenties of thousands of followers does it!
Brittany Banks: Christina, tell me a little bit about the woman behind the LoveBrownSugar vision. How would you sum up your overall role as an influencer?
Christina Brown: Everything I do is to uplift and empower women of color in the media. I want to see more of our faces and more of our body types represented, and I want to combat the myths that we’re not beautiful because we have dark skin, curly hair and we’re curvy.
Also, my goal is to really tap into my purpose and make sure everything I’m doing is in alignment with God’s plan for my life. There are so many amazing things that will come to you if you just listen to who you are, what you’re really good at and what you have been placed on this Earth to do…I’m just a person but I also consider myself a resource. If a person is starting a new business or brand, for example, they could come to BrownGirlsLove Power Day (occurring the first Saturday of each year) to learn of tools and resources and hear from influencers, business owners and creative entrepreneurs. I also do consulting. So if they already have a small independent company, they might want to reach out to me about marketing strategies, as well as website and social media content strategies. I want to be able to service more people and grow my business more, but at the core, I just want black women to succeed. That’s why I do what I do.
BB: Great! I noticed that you travel a lot for your brand –
BB: What are your arrangements with your two children? All of us mommies have different lives and lifestyles…maybe some of our readers will gain insight to know it’s possible and it is “okay” to leave our kids behind and travel whether for business or pleasure.
CB: Every situation is different. It just depends on your village. I have amazing friends and family that will step in when I have to travel for business and whatnot. At the end of the day, moms in particular should be comfortable with asking for help. During the baby shower, for example, you’ll have people who say, “If you ever need help…” and then you never cash in that favor. As women of color, we think we’re super women and we can do everything, but we just can’t! Put those plans together and ask for help! If you can’t get the help, bring the kids and get some alone time while away, if possible.
BB: I myself struggle in that area. I don’t think I’m supermom, but I just don’t want to be a burden…But, then there were those many times that I reached out and was denied, even when it involved taking care of business. It can be discouraging, and it also keeps you in that state of mind that says you have to figure it out alone. I’m sure a lot of our readers can relate to this aspect of motherhood.
CB: Yea. I think, at the end of the day you have to be honest with yourself and with others about what you’re trying to accomplish. If your mom, for example, never shared in your dreams of entrepreneurship and doesn’t support it…maybe she isn’t the best person to ask for help when it comes to your business. Maybe it’s your friend instead. Even when it comes to self-care…if you have someone in your life who doesn’t even take care of themselves in that way, of course they’re not going to watch your kid(s) so that you can take care of yourself, right?
Pray about it. God will send someone to support you. I just want moms to know that it’s possible. Listen – keep asking. And if that doesn’t work, get a new village or add people to your village who understand what you’re trying to do.
BB: Really great advice. So, you mentioned traveling with the little ones. Have you brought your kids along when you’ve traveled for business? Is there a nanny service that you’ve used that you can suggest to our readers?
CB: Great question. My daughter Cadence is 4 and Colton is 8 months. When Cadence was first born I used to take her with me everywhere. I remember when she was maybe 6 months old or so, and I had a business trip. She was so young; I was still breastfeeding and I did not want to leave her. So, I bought my mother a plane ticket so she could watch my daughter while I worked. There were other times. For example, I had a client meeting in Portland a few weeks ago and I had arranged childcare for both kids, but unfortunately my son’s sitter fell through at the last minute. I had to readjust. I called the airline and added an infant ticket and used this app called Bambino. They basically geo-locate babysitters, and you can read reviews and view their background checks…so, I ordered a Bambino who could sit for me nearby while I took care of my business.
BB: That is so progressive – I love it!
CB: You just do what you have to do, you know?
BB: True. Really good mommy hacks for our readers!
What about when you were first starting out in your career? How was your role as a mother affected or how did your role as a mother affect you getting started?
CB: So what’s interesting is that I had a 9-5 career. Maybe a few months before I got pregnant with my daughter, I quit that job to take a stab at entrepreneurship. So I started my entrepreneurship journey and motherhood journey at the same time. They’re two very delicate journeys that require a lot of energy, time, focus and strategy, but starting them at the same time – I think – helped me a lot. I got really serious about charging for my services – all these things that I wasn’t thinking about before, I now had to think about. So I think that my career was actually enhanced as a result of my children.
Also, as a creative entrepreneur I was able to incorporate my children – my lifestyle – into my business with the creation of BabyBrownSugar. I was able to relate to even more women then. I can’t say that it has been easy – it has been very hard because both job titles are demanding. I needed to create balance and take proper care of myself so I could give my best to my business and my kids.
BB: Christina, let me tell you…I’m over here just-a nodding away because my journey of becoming a mother actually jump-started my career so I relate.
CB: I feel like having a child almost opens up this new world of possibilities. A lot of women become inspired and want to create things as a result of becoming a mom, and it’s a beautiful thing.
BB: It is. So, I’m going to get a little more personal...are you a single mom?
CB: I am a single mom.
BB: I’m curious how that affected you when getting started in your career? Does it affect your career currently?
CB: At the end of the day, not having live-in help definitely plays a big role in what I can and cannot do. I don’t do a lot of overnight trips; I have to pick and choose because I don’t feel comfortable with leaving my kids overnight with just anyone. There are certain boundaries I set as a result of being a single mom, but I set out to accomplish certain things and I have not let that stop me. I also have to set boundaries with the people I work with…teammates and clients…they all know at a certain hour I turn off my phone and I can’t work on things because I’m getting my children ready for bed. Even if you aren’t a single mom…your husband may work late nights or long hours. Again, it’s just about being honest with yourself and other people about your limits, wants and needs. But I do co-parent with their father and he has been incredibly active in making sure that I am supported in my journey as an entrepreneur. I am blessed that he plays an active role.
BB: It’s amazing that you’re so unapologetic about your boundaries. A lot of us think that we have to take certain things in order to reach certain heights. We may tell ourselves, “It’s not their fault that I’m a mom, so maybe I do have to deal with this and that to be accommodating.” Some of us tend to give ourselves the short end of the stick and that’s not okay.
CB: Another thing I want to stress is when you provide value – whether it’s to your clients or to the company that you work for – they have to be willing to return value to you. And it’s not always financial, sometimes it’s flexibility. If you’re a working mom and are thinking about transitioning to a different 9-5, for example, you should ask yourself, “Would this company allow me to live my best life as a mother? Are there work-from-home opportunities? Is there a daycare on site?” I would advise mothers to actively work toward transitioning toward a lifestyle that works better for the demands of motherhood.
BB: Exactly. And it starts with valuing yourself as a mother and as a woman in general.
CB: Right, right.
BB: How were you able to build your personal brand? Do you have any tips for our readers?
CB: Business is an extension of our personal brand. What I stand for, I make sure I communicate that in the business that I do. Again, it’s that unapologetic nature of, “Okay, this is what makes me different…I’m going to celebrate that instead of downplaying it.” I’ve also grown to be very comfortable with doing things my own way and not doing what everyone else is doing on social media. Guess what, I’m going to show myself today with no make-up and say, “I had a crappy day, but God is still good!” And I think that’s what people have been drawn to – my transparency. I celebrate when I have wins, but at the end of the day, not every day is beautiful. When it comes to your personal brand, you should be focused on being your “unique” self. Not a carbon copy of someone else. Whoever you are, you’re a beautiful person that people would want to know more about.
BB: I know that’s right! Earlier on in the conversation, you mentioned tapping into your passion and honoring God’s path for your life. What advice do you have in this area?
CB: There’s a few different layers to that. First, self-care is really important. Not just rest and rejuvenation, but also that you can have quiet time to just sit and listen to what God has to say about your current situation and where you need to go. As moms, we can get so caught up in the day-to-day. A few months ago, I decided that I was going to set aside time each morning for prayer, meditation and reading the bible. Now, when I don’t do it I feel the difference. It’s very important to stay in tune with yourself and God, and to continually reassess. Ask yourself, “What am I not happy about right now? What feels out of alignment? What do I need to be doing more of?”
Also, if you keep getting a feeling that you need to write, then maybe you need to write a book. If there’s this problem that keeps coming up and you’re like, “Man, if I could just create an app or start a group that problem would be solved,” maybe that’s part of your purpose. Because there are other people dealing with that issue. At the end of the day, your thing is to make this Earth a better place; no matter how small or large – just do it. And the more you do it, the better you’ll feel. And you’ll feel like you’re living a life that is full and has meaning as opposed to just going through the motions.
BB: I completely agree. That’s how you know you’re living in your purpose. Just one last question before I let you go – even though I am LOVING talking to you right now! What last piece of advice do you have for our readers?
CB: I just want moms out there to know that you are capable! I think a lot of times we get caught up – it feels like this never-ending cycle day-to-day – but you’re enough, you’re capable, and you also deserve to have wonderful things. Yes, you should dedicate part of your life to serving other people, your family, your kids and your work, but you deserve to be treated well. You deserve to have time to yourself and enjoy your life. Be unapologetic about that.
BB: Very good advice. I truly appreciate you for taking the time to speak with me and deliver such gems to our community of mothers. I think the information you provided really encompasses topics that a lot of us mothers get stuck on, so thank you.
Ladies, I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into the life of a mother who chose to step out on faith and create a lane for herself despite the obstacles. In addition to gaining entrepreneurial advice and a few new resources, my wish is that you learned from her story and have been inspired.
We all face obstacles. At these challenging times, just recall to mind the key takeaways here. You deserve to be kind to yourself. You owe it to yourself to take what life gives you and make the absolute best of it – use it to your advantage. If something isn’t working well for your journey, change it! Don’t give up; don’t pout….literally alter it, or drop it and keep it pushing, mama! Above all, consult with God on all of your decisions and He will pave the way.
As Christina said, you are capable! Make it happen!
Love, Brittany Marie