Thursday, April 28, 2011

An Inspiration for the Brothas!

A few days ago I posted a blog on my response to a conversation I held with a colleague of mine. Our topic, the hardship of the black man... and as I was impressed with his argument, I was not moved. So, I am going to show you all some black men ... from around the world that are doing what they do best ... making it work!

So, the first is Oliver Rousteing, a black french designer who was just named the Head Designer at one of my favorite fashion houses, Balmain ... (fast forward to a future posting of a dress my mom recently re-styled to resemble a Beyonce Balmain dress I fell in love with last year)

Olivier Rousteing Named New Head Designer of Balmain « The Fashion Bomb Blog /// All Urban Fashion… All the Time - All Urban Fashion // All the Time

So this is very exciting for black men around the world .. not only are they running countries .. but fashion houses as well! Wow, bro...


Monday, April 25, 2011

How to Get What You Want ... in business

SO I was delighted this morning when one of my best business owner buddies hit me up on Facebook. She had a need, and new what she wanted her solution to be ... she just needed a little help devising a way to get what she wanted. As a business owner, especially a small business owner, we're often faced with tasks that can be a little bit out of our reach. But not in all cases.

My one method I take to get what I want for my business,

#1. Ask and you shall receive
You want to host a promotional event.

Your expenses are low. However, you have an excellent following and know that you've kicked a ton of money into advertising and creating the proper product.

Ask the best, most fab locations that you can to host the event. Often times hotels they'll donate a room or lobby for a few hours if they can see that you've done your work, and are sure to be able to gain some new and lucrative contacts in exchange.

Entertain the idea of hosting an event at a Bed & Breakfast or model apartment, in exchange the owners can give a small presentation concerning their establishment.

In 2010 event spaces were being leased for thousands of dollars, while the housing market almost halted. Don't be selfish, use cross-promotion and list-sharing as a bargaining tool. The more highly ranked locations will definitely require a better addressed patron list from you, don't ask for a room in the Ritz if your demographic couldn't afford it, even if they've just got their tax refund.

Recognize the need
By writing a proposal and listing everything that you have, need and planning to do you can better make your case for an unconventional partnership.

Formulate your address
Whether you are asking for a corner in the lobby or entire suite to host a photoshoot, make sure you know the person you are supposed to talk to. Don't just write an email, I suggest finding out who's in authority to answer your request and meeting with them face to face.

Communicate dual benefits
Be honest. Explain what you are getting out of this request as well as what they'll be getting in return. Will you publicize their good deed? Are you willing, and able to share contacts list? Will pictures be taken and promoted via social networks?

Emphasize the request as a solution to their problem
Businesses like to get as much as they can, for free. Isn't that what you are doing. In cases where you are making requests it will be easier to get the solution you desire by offering convincing and tempting benefits, sort of like a Return On Investment for the love. Think promotions, media, reach and profits. Let them know just how lucrative this opportunity will be in terms of increasing their business.

Maintain the relationship
Don't forget the follow-up. And don't be cheap. You've convinced them that you have a specific need, a specific patron list and a specific product that has longevity in its market. More than likely the move they've allowed you to make will benefit you enough for you to send a thank you gift their way. Price range questions, try spending a 15-20% of what the "favor" would have cost if you had paid for it... this could be a flower arrangement for their office, a surprise delivery lunch for the staff or a promotional/thank you banner on your website.

...so, take note of what it is that you have, but never think that you can't get what you want in business.

Shoutout to Kesha Williams, owner of Smooth As Ice, all natural body scrub & butters for the inspiration in this blog post.
Smooth As Ice, Beauty, Day Spa, Inkster Rd Taylor MI 48180

So, what are you looking for that will give your business the boost? What products do you need that will put you over the top...
  • Proposal and Media Kit
  • Demographic and Marketing Plan
  • Social Media Relations
  • Outreach and Sourcing
Contact me via facebook or twitter ... check out About.me/chrisbethany


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Black men ... still struggling, apparently

I recently had a very deep conversation, on twitter, with an old friend. Now, this guy is familiar to me ... meaning, he should know how I talk and my ability to present a counterargument that is both knowledgeable and a little sarcastic, but apparently I went a little too far. You'll see what I am talking about in a second.

Just a little background, both @ALogan100 and I are from Detroit, the eastside, I am older, we went to college literally 10 miles (or less) from each other, his alma mater is Eastern Michigan University and as some of you may know I went to the Univ. of Michigan, just down the road in Ann Arbor. But the schools couldn't be more different. Eastern is about 80% black, while Michigan boasts a wavering 5%. However, coming from Detroit Public Schools, I like to think that both of use had enough sense to make good of any situation.

Now, the conversation between myself and @ALogan100 stemmed from his comments on the struggles he's facing as a black man. His tweets caught my eye because (1) I had just had a great conversation with another follower about Detroit's renewal, and I was already riled up, and (2) when people start talking about black men, I like to be all in.

So, @ALogan100 was making comments on how the black man really hadn't been given his due, there was no justice being given to equalizing the plight of black men against, say, the rest of the men in this country. My argument was "it's getting better" which I backed up by adding that the amount of hardship and struggle has e
xponentially decreased in the years of American history. I think that my buddy didn't yet seem to understand my point, I wasn't knocking the struggle, just shedding light on the fact that its been worse.

Last year, everyone and they mother (ie. momma, for my black readers) was chiming in on the plight of black women, how we can't find a man, how we are always angry, and with the rise and fame of Basketball Wives and the Real Housewives of Atlanta, apparently we were all golddiggers, fighters and tattoo covered. From Steve H
arvey to GMA host Steven Stephanopolous, every man had something to say... keeping up with the trend Tyler Perry put out like 27 movies about black women. But no one was talking about black men ... apparently, they were having a hard time too.
I did a little research, found some good points from Trumaine McCaskill of the A&T Register who wrote in his article "For Colored Guys",

"Our education does not make us an exception to anything. The cops still harass us, we still struggle to find a good black woman, and we still try to show the generation who follows what is right and what is wrong. However, if the stories of educated black men are continuously ignored, then maybe we will continue to fade away."

I understand where he's coming from. In the news this week Kobe
Bryant was fined $100k for calling someone a homophobic slue, Barry Bonds allegedly took steroids and has been in court for the past few months, the NFL is not paying
its players and they are taking out high interest loans and having bunch of kids outta wedlock ... then there are the gangsters, the rappers ... and on the other side of the spectrum, there's President Obama, Hill Harper, Denzel, preachers, male teachers and the such. None of which in the news, but what young black boy (the at risk of being lost in a system, not everyone else) watches the news? I'm looking at the big picture. The news can say one thing, you can have a bad interview, the white lady may still grab her purse tight, but what does it matter if the next generation doesn't prevalently live to both gain a momentum and decrease the stereotype.

There are opposite sides of every spectrum, black men have been pushed around... mistreated and misunderstood, however in order to get into a better place, please recognize the progress. There are currently less black men in college on athletic scholarships then on academic scholarships. There is a rise in responsible single parent households ran by black men ... I know of three myself, in Detroit no less. Black men are realizing their potential and entering the world fashion, the blogosphere, photography and education. The prevalence of positive r
ap amongst new rappers is gaining popularity, whereas they talk more about the "lifestyle" rather than bitches and hoes ... and emphasis is being placed on the "grind" rather than sitting back and smoking weed, playing video games and other tomfoolery. Would these instances be the straw that breaks the mantra that "its not cool to be smart" amongst black boys? Would it decrease the belief that being lazy is the same as being smooth?

What's next for the black man? A little more than 135 years ago blacks were still slaves, in 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson gave the race a little elasticity as they fought for equality, but still faced segregation. Less than 20 years after that the NAACP was formed which began a trailblazing fight for positive treatment in America, then "Birth of a Nation" came out ... which I thought shoulda been called the "History of Racism" and "Roots" should've been titled "Birth of a Nation", just saying ... both cinematic productions were groundbreaking in the history of the struggle of black people. But, in the words of Jay-Z (a black man and the epitome of the bootstrap method), on to the next. What now...what happened, has progress halted?

I think were we went wrong was seperating the struggles of black men and women. The crack epidemic killed a ton of fathers, broke up a lot of homes, leaving women and mothers to make strides on their own. Did they want to us to wait for them to get clean, and to get outta jail, or to wake up from their "woe is me" mindset? Apparently, yes.

Black women have been groomed by this country to be leaders and matriarchs, while black men have found a place in their struggle, which to me, is nothing but taking the bait (I mean, whoever took cocaine and bought it to the hood would've given it to anybody to sale, it just so happens, that most of the dealers where men). I am by no means saying that black women have it made, in my entire conversation, via twitter, @ALogan100 kept thinking I was "angry", he diminished my arguments by saying I wouldn't understand, and that he didn't want to "fight" ... and even when I assured him that we were simply conversing, that no anger was in my words, I felt he wouldn't be moved. He had placed me in "angry black woman" category ... was he looking for a way out or just a little sympathy? Did he want me to concede and instead, give him a hug, rub his back and sooth him with an old negro spiritual?

Um... not gone happen babe. I understood completely what he was going through, all black women should, simply because we've been standing next to them, visiting them in prison, taking care of their kids while they "hustle", watching front row center at how they've dealt with the extremities of mistreatment and a struggle to lead our entire race into a bright and shiny future in this country.

But when it comes down to it...

We are the masters of our own fate. If you want better, ofcourse you have to do better ... or sit back and wait for better legislation to come out to even the playing field, or get another sandbox, and play there.

TTYL ...oh, to view the convo between me and @ALogan100 ...copy this URL in ur browser http://keep.la/dXbGny

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Pretty Girls Work ... and Rock

SO, a few nights in a row I have been sleepless with writing and writing, and wasting time on the internet when I should be writing and then more writing.

Now, if you follow me on twitter, and I suggest you do @darealchrisreed, you are probably familiar with my jokes, small tidbits of info concerning building business, retweets and side eyes.
I try not to clique up on twitter, because talking to a wide array of my followers and the people I follow is way more fun. Sometimes I just chime in, becaus
e it's all I may have time for.

But on more than one instance I was bombarded on twitter by "models" sending out pics of themselves in order to gain exposure. Now, this isn't a blog about knocking model chicks (get ya money boo), I mean, I myself considered the trade, but ... um ... I already got on a good train called College, and well, didn't feel like leaving that. Anywho, I instantly threw myself into the twitter-rant of @OhMyGlenda, ironically she's a model...

"...feel like i gotta shake my ass for some singles and get some ass shots to get attention in detroit.."

"some of these photographers only wanna shoot you...if you getting naked...#pause...i'll wait..sorry perv"

I had to agree. I mean, I'm no model, but the amount of exploitation that most women put themselves through in order to get a little attention, um, my bad "exposure", is getting a little ridiculous, and has definitely taken over some of the mindsets of the younger generation.

To the point where girls are aspiring to devote themselves to the most outlandish of professions, video model, groupie, professional facebook photo taker, non of which too lucrative...and if that falls through, some of these young girls (and I am speaking from my experience as a SAT/ACT test prep teacher in Detroit Public Schools) actually think to fall back on a career as a medical transcriber would carry them their whole lives. Um, there's a reason Devry has to go up against the collegiate accreditation bureau every year...CUZ THAT MESS WON'T LAST EITHER!

I don't want to be the weird stage mother, where I live surreptitiousness and vicariously through my younger students lives, imposing on them my values and my understanding of how college should be mandatory. But they aren't hearing that.

You see, when I was in high school, I was kinda ... weird. But not like the weird kids they have now, I
was kind of "I ain't trying to get in your face about anything, cuz I got my own thing going on." Me and my pumas, my GAP one-shoulder book bag, timberland boots worn with thick cable-knit tights, jean skirts and ofcourse, the "Why don't she have a perm" afro ... at Detroit's historically fashion forward Cass Technical HS.

(I say that so you don't think I was "I don't have a friend in the world, I hate everyone" type of weird)

But I turned out alright. I followed a few trends, yes, but I never fell victim to using my body as a tool to make money, create a following or a fanbase ... aside from posting a new avatar or cute fb pic, that I am not going to say is covered head to toe ... but I'm no participant of #tittietuesday.

So what is
the lesson here? ... ladies and girls ... and some of the boys around the world ... there is no type of "modeling" that goes on between 2am and 4am. That's what the government calls "soliciting". (pause for applause)

Ofcourse my life isn't super glamorous, but its eventful, weeving my way through the "pervs" as OhMyGlenda explained, finding other true divas who are just as regular, yet on a path towards a success that has longevity ... who may, on my 30th because it sounds fun, and I ain't GOT to, hit up an amateur night somewhere far far away from my home, or maybe just do the VixenFitness class. I find that my boys are still my boys, they respect me (yeah, its possible).

My girl @LadyWhitehead sent me to this Youtube video ... (there's cursing in it mom, so...don't have it loud with dad around), but I completely associate with this chick...

Funny right? I was crying laughing so hard when I saw this. So go forth ... be you, be wonderful, be weird ... but please, be fully clothed.

As of late I have been focused and I am inspired by all of the women that I know who, aside from being beautiful have decided to devote their minds to creating successful businesses. They are networking, searching for new opportunities, growing and giving.

Shoutouts to my mom and big sis Chloe (look out for her nail salon coming soon to San Antonio!!) @AndreaStellar,@Icis, and all the rest that I have been conversing with @MashMag, @MiaRayRay, @LovePublicity, @DeeTheDiva, my girl Traci Ricks. More power ladies.

*again, this post is not by any means knocking the stripping or video model profession, however I feel that there should be more done, mentally, to prepare girls to believe that those jobs are substantial and are reputation breaking, you may see that a video model gets her own show on VH1, but how often is this? How hard was it for her to legitimately voice her desire and willingness to be on her show? Did she have to work to be taken seriously as well as work to be viewed as an object? Viable questions before stepping into that role.

**also, I must say RIP to my bestie forever to my girl Meloni O'Brien Smith, she was a beautiful soul, activist, inspiration and yes, model from Detroit
she took me on my first photoshoot when we were at Fisk University together. Killed by a drunk driver Apr. 7, 2007, only God knows the amount of potential this woman had...