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Essence 10th Annual Black Women in Hollywood Awards Gala at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel
Featuring: Bevy Smith
Where: Beverly Hills, California, United States
When: 23 Feb 2017

Looking at TV and radio personality Bevy Smith you see a successful, self-made, confident woman. But what you might not know is the long journey behind her achievements.

It took a career switch for Smith to find her true passion. You see, while Smith spent years as a successful fashion advertising executive at Rolling Stone magazine, during which time she earned a six-figure salary and traveled to such swank destinations as Paris and Milan, she wasn’t really happy. Smith, who grew up in Harlem (and still lives there), was still searching for her passion.

“I woke up one morning in Milan, surrounded by opulence, and that’s when I finally acknowledged that I was, in fact, miserable. I was definitely not living my best life, and it was on me to figure out how to fix that,” Smith wrote in an article on her journey on Jopwell.

Smith was determined to make a change, and she was strategic about it. In fact, she made a series of calculated moves over a span of time to get to the life she wanted. “While I couldn’t just up and quit my job, I started making some deliberate changes: I decided to go by ‘Bevy/ instead of ‘Beverly,’ also making a point to correct people who introduced me as ‘Beverly from Rolling Stone.’ In order to lay the groundwork for my own brand, I needed to lead with me,” Smith explained.

Smith started side gigs, a private dinner and cocktail series with influencers (Dinner with Bevy) and Life With Vision events, which were open to the public. Smith even event back to school.

“I continued carving out opportunities to gain new skills that would help get me closer to where I wanted to go, from taking improv classes; to creating a podcast; to appearing on TV as a fashion and pop-culture expert, panel moderator, and motivational speaker. I left Rolling Stone in 2005. It wasn’t easy to walk away from the community and reputation I’d created working in advertising for several decades in favor of a career in which I had to prove myself all over again. But navigating that path was extremely rewarding,” she revealed.

The transformation wasn’t overnight, however. “It took eight years until I got my big break in the form of Fashion Queens, a fashion-focused talk show on Bravo that I co-hosted for three seasons. The show has been off the air for about a year now, but it helped me earn the freedom to work for myself and on my own schedule. Now, I own my happiness and, because I’m in charge, no one can take that away from me,” she wrote.

The process taught Smith some valuable lessons she said. Among them:

–Every job has value. “Take every job seriously. As I teenager, I got a part-time job at the concession stand in Midtown Manhattan’s Paley Park. I loved being a part of that workforce, surrounded by the amazing architecture and atmosphere. The mandate to serve those hot dogs with pride came from the owner of the stand, Samuel Paley, who was also the chief executive officer of CBS. In that sense, it wasn’t your average concession stand. Employees had to wear a white shirt and black pants – no jeans or t-shirts allowed. We also knew exactly how Mr. Paley wanted the hot dogs prepared: Each bun was to be toasted golden brown and brushed with butter. I took it very seriously, learning the ins and outs of customer service. I was part of something, and that was important to me. In a lot of ways, that gig set the tone for my career,” she recalled.

–Look your best–always. “Present the best version of yourself to the world,” said Smith.

–Look for mentors everywhere. “Embrace non-traditional mentorship,” advised Smith.

–Say “yes, and …” to new opportunities. “Even if you don’t know what’s coming next, you have to be open to unfamiliar opportunities and willing to build on them. Leaving my job opened me up to new avenues and a whole lot of ‘yes.’ In fact, I like to think that my life is a ‘yes, and…’ proposition. Don’t close yourself off to change. Embrace opportunities, even if you’re not always sure where they’ll lead.

–Strife to live your authentic self. “Aim to become the true you. Working on Fashion Queens was a remarkable experience and stepping stone. But the radio show I host today, Bevelations – that’s where I’m truly me. That’s mine. It has my name on it. And my Dinner with Bevy series? That’s also me. Now that I’m representing my personal brand, I can show both sides of me: The part that’s interested in fashion and design along with the part that’s interested in entertainment and pop culture. I can talk about my interests in mid-century modern architecture and the Black Panther movement. I can show my audience who I really am. And, some 30-years and a lot of hard work into my career, this is the life I’ve always wanted,” said Smith.

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