When I started the Brown Betties™ in 2004, I had an idea in mind. I wanted to create something that was about successful, positive, strong black women. During that time, black women in particular were sort of experiencing a social backlash…in the media and to the man on the street, we were seen as video hoe’s and neck poppin’ sassy pants who got really loud on the bus or at Walmart.
While this woman exists, and I certainly know this woman, this woman wasn’t me. I don’t know how to snap my neck to save my life and my butt nor my desire to “go hard or go home” were big enough to be a successful video hoe (or vixen).
Enter the Brown Bettie.
Fashioned after the sophisticated woman from yesteryear (black or white), she speaks with class, she is educated, she knows a thing or two about a thing or two…and then some. She commands respect because she respects herself.
This is the woman I was raised to be and this type of woman is the type of person with whom I surround myself.
So, I created and trademarked the Brown Betties brand. I created “Harlem’s Night” a 1940s-styled burlesque dinner-theater show starring the Brown Betties that ran in LA, NY and Atlanta for 10 years. The Betties who performed in the show became my lifelong friends and we lived and breathed the Bettie lifestyle. We still do.
I’ve since moved to Prague (10 months ago) for what started as a break from LA and is turning into so much more.
Enter Prague Betties.
While producing my one-woman show “Harlem’s Awakening” (based on my Bettie novella) with an incredible group of talented artists housed at Studio Savec, our team suggested I do a Brown Bettie performance. My immediate thought was, “There are no Betties in Prague!” I hadn’t seen any black women who identified themselves as dancers and actors. Not a single one. I’d met three lovely black women, but they were artists in other areas. My mind closed. I had an image of my brand and my girls back in LA and my brain just sort of shut down and said, “Oh well.” But then, one of the women on our team, who had taken my Be Your Own Bettie workshop, suggested one of the sultry women who had also participated. She’d said, “That girl is a Bettie.”
And she was right.
I should note that the Be Your Own Bettie workshop is just what it sounds like. I teach women how to direct a spotlight inward to what empowers them; I teach them how to be a Bettie. However, in my mind, the stage Bettie, the performers who dance, the women who became my friends for life, are quite different. So, I had to change my perception of what I knew a stage Bettie to be. And by doing so, I gave new life to my brand. More than that, I stopped being selfish, got out of the way and gave an opportunity to some women who truly are Betties in their soul and being. On stage and off. They are sultry; they are sassy; and they are sophisticated. And they deserved that spotlight.
For those of you are entrepreneurs or business owners or run anything from a household to a department store to a hedge fund, I encourage you to know your brand…know what you know and be convicted in your knowledge…but also be open to change. Sometimes there is an entire world of growth behind, “Ok, sure. Let’s try it.”
This post originally appeared March 8, 2016 here.