Created by R’Chelle Mullins and Krissy Henry, Brown Girl Friendly (BGF) was originally started last year as a beauty blog. It was a place for women in the know to catch up on the latest beauty news, and it featured work by many of the friends Mullins and Henry made during their years of blogging.
Going a step further, the women started a Facebook group where they would give free business tips to members, but because both women are certified in marketing, giving away free business advice on Facebook felt like a missed opportunity. “You have to guide it in the right direction. You have to make sure that you get paid and that you’re giving out quality information. That was kind of limiting us,” Henry told us in an interview. So, they gutted their entire site and started fresh.
The new site, which officially launched yesterday is an online community where content creators and entrepreneurs can network, get business coaching, gain exposure and learn more about branding, photography and design through worksheets and modules, which users are free to complete at their own pace.
There are four series each month. August features a self-analysis as well as content on overcoming fear and doubt, finding your niche and goal-setting. BGF also offers monthly group goal accountability sessions, free platform evaluations every three months, and a regular e-newsletter that features updates about new tech tools, important events, new business-related legislation and more. In the future, they plan to host webinars and boot camps, as well.
Membershipscost $14.99/month and, despite Henry’s original fears that their audience would be upset that they are no longer a beauty blog, the response from users has been positive. “I think a lot of them understood that we need to know exactly how bloggers are getting these products, exactly how they’re reaching out to these companies and working with PR.”
On the other hand, many of the business owners that use BGF are seeking to save money by taking control of their own social media presence. BGF teaches them those skills and tosses in some branding, PR and networking advice as well as empowerment and motivation tips.
Mullins and Henry decided to create a single space for content creators and entrepreneurs because “content creators are still entrepreneurs. They just have to guide it more toward that direction and entrepreneurs need that social presence, so they have to guide it in the other direction. There’s a happy medium here,” Henry said.
Although Henry, who is from Compton, CA, and Mullins, who lives in Pittsburgh, PA, have been working together for years, they have never actually met in person. The two friends originally met on Twitter. They began following each other’s blogs (Mullins runs Creatively Yours by Ro and Henry’s blog is Addicted to All Things Pretty) and now, they talk and/or text each other daily.
“It was natural. We’ve worked together before. I know people say ‘Never go into business with your friends,’ but Ro and I have worked together on projects for so long. It was just natural.”
On top of Brown Girl Friendly, Mullins also owns and operates Brand Specific Media, a company with a very hypnotic “About Us” page, which offers platform management, branding and business coaching services. BGF’s third owner, an LA-based blogger named Nesh Dotstry, is friends with Henry, as well. She serves as BGF’s chief operating officer. “Nesh is basically in an admin role, but I [I told her] I don’t want you to work under me. I want you to own it. So, when you do your work, I want you to look at it like an owner,” Henry told us.
In the future, the BGF team hopes to do meet-ups, including a work-free, weekend slumber party, and free coffee talks. Henry also hopes to do more speaking engagements. In the past, she’s gone to middle schools to talk to young black girls about beauty. “The beauty industry has totally changed since I was in middle school, so I think it’s important to tell our young girls how to navigate this crazy Internet and also put them in a position where they can have their own businesses and create their own content and get paid,” she said.
That’s BGF’s main goal in everything they do. “When I say nobody wants to see black women make it more than us…there’s nobody. I don’t even care if you’re [our competition], I want to see you make it. I really think that highly of black women and what we do. The content we bring…the way we deliver that content, I just think we’re so dope and the world needs to understand that. I think we need to guide it and look at ways to express that to the world and show that to the world. I think they see us as so one-dimensional, when we’re not.”