by Andrea Fryrear · 06 Aug 2020 · 6 min read
From Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, author of I'm Not Really a Waitress and co-founder of #1 global professional nail brans
Have you noticed how more than ever — as we look for ways to safely socialize at a distance — people are going "live" on their Instagram or Facebook? Whether for personal reasons or business, it's a big fear for a lot of us. I was terrified too, until I bit the bullet and finally clicked that "live" button. Turns out, it's not as scary as I thought! So I decided to put together a few tips that I thought might be helpful for getting over that anxiety and fear.
A message to CEOs, business leaders, and white people in general. For the past five years, I have worked with a grassroots organization, I Grow Chicago, to heal the root causes of trauma and violence in Englewood, a neighborhood that is 95% Black and 100% low-income. As I've engaged with this work, it has become increasingly clear that the root causes of trauma and violence in our community boil down to racism and white supremacy.
When I first started working in marketing a decade ago, I was quickly thrown into the standard cookie-cutter ways that had been laid out in most business school textbooks. What always bothered me about the traditional marketing process was that it looked good on paper, but the more you began to execute, the more this process drives a wedge between the company and the customer. The customer becomes a number without much consideration to who they actually are and how they feel in relation to the brand. This never sat well with me. After all, I'm a consumer as much as I am a marketer, and making purchases from companies where I feel like a whole and valued person is important to me.
Lately, brands have been bravely stepping up to take a stand against racial injustice and other societal ills affecting our world. Almost immediately after the murder of George Floyd, Nike came out with its "Don't Do It" ad. Walmart pledged $100 million for the creation of a center on racial equity. Ben & Jerry's rolled out a new flavor called "Justice Remixed." Pepsi / Quaker Foods has decided to drop its Aunt Jemima brand, whose identity is based on a racial stereotype, and Facebook has created "Lift Black Voices" to highlight stories from Black people and share educational resources.
I built my beauty brand, Frilliance, off of my YouTube following. At the time I launched Frilliance, I had around 500,000 subscribers. My other social media channels were not as strong as my YouTube following, so I leveraged that platform in particular both to launch my brand and leading up to the launch. Through my videos, I encouraged my subscribers to join the email, text, and Instagram for Frilliance. I didn't want to rely on my YouTube channel as my only way to market and sell Frilliance.
My father's uncle invented the first fully mechanized sugarcane planter in Modeste, Louisiana, in 1964. He marketed the machine during the civil rights era, selling them for $6,000 and making a $1,000 profit. While he was eventually able to get a patent, he ended up losing about $11 million due to unauthorized copies of his machine. My father's family history is not in history books. It is pulled together from a line of oral history and newspaper clippings; stories that are untold, underappreciated, and buried deep beneath the whitewashed history learned from school books. And as a mixed-race woman, I feel deeply connected to these tragedies.
The murder of George Floyd was a lightning rod galvanizing the Black Lives Matter movement and highlighting the vast inequalities that remain within our society and economy. Perhaps among the most striking of these is the widening racial wealth gap with Black families holding roughly one-tenth the wealth of white families. One key to ushering in a new age of greater social and racial equity lies in narrowing the vast wealth and earning disparities among the Black population, and Black women specifically.
I was heading down a dead-end path to nowhere. One night in February of 2019, I came home from my posh bowling birthday bash to depleted funds and depleted ambition. Drained by the idea that after all these years of living on this earth, not only was I not happy, but I also didn't seem to be moving or growing in the direction I'd always envisioned for myself. Since I was always raised to make a difference and not put limitations on myself, why had I succumbed to my circumstances? Why was I leveraging my time with men for money? Was I only here on earth to be a sex fantasy prop that any man could pick up and put down at will?
When we think about being "conscious" anything, it's easy to fall into the subject of new age spirituality or just focus on leading a conscious lifestyle through regular yoga sessions, composting, and keeping chickens in the backyard. All of these things are great (when aligned with our personal values), and these actions can enhance our day-to-day lives and inspire others to do the same. But when it comes to the world of business, can the word "conscious" not only play a role, but also help professionals and entrepreneurs alike thrive?