HB’s 2019 Hustler’s List highlights Black women across the beauty, entertainment and marketing fields. These women are blazing paths in their respective lanes while embodying the definition of a true hustler.
CEO Brittney Kelley is the definition of what it looks like to do it all, while looking good. The mommy of two is killing it as the CEO of her own makeup line, that offers lipsticks, lip liner and handbags carrying her own namesake. She is also the wife of Major League Baseball player, Josh Harrison. Balancing both family life and business accolades is no easy feat, but she does it with the grace of a pro. We caught up with Kelley about how she maintains her professional and personal endeavors, and advice she has for other women looking to start their own companies.
HB: Describe how your passion for fashion and makeup began…
Brittney Kelley: It began at an early age. I would sit at home and watch my mom get glammed up. I loved to play in her makeup and clothes. As a young girl, I would sit on the couch during award season and sketch all the beautiful dresses on a sketch pad as the celebrities would walk down the red carpet. It was so cool to me.
HB: How did you decide to launch a line?
Brittney Kelley: When I was in college at the University of Cincinnati, I created a fashion show that provided African American designers and models an opportunity to showcase their work. I was a business student and knew I wanted to showcase my styling efforts. At the time, there was nowhere for me to show it. I wasn’t a design student in college, so I couldn’t showcase them through the design program.
Through my shows and research, I started to notice that there were not many African American Handbag Designers. I loved handbags, so I decided to launch my own line. From there, I launched a beauty & lifestyle brand of lipsticks to showcase bold colors for the everyday woman.
There are so many beauty and lifestyle brands that focus on what the fashion industry considers beauty, I wanted to create a line that showcased a chic style for any woman (even moms). I wanted to let all women know, that “You can be your own kind of beautiful” by illustrating bold and bright colors for women of all skin tones and backgrounds.
HB: What obstacles did you face in launching your line and how did you overcome them?
Brittney Kelley: Because I was so young when I first started out and was working with a minimal budget, I faced the challenge of manufacturing. It took a while to find a good manufacturer that was willing to produce small quantities of my products. I never gave up and just kept contacting companies, until I found someone that could produce my items.
HB: What would you say to naysayers who feel the makeup industry is “too saturated” with product offerings?
Brittney Kelley: I would say that the economic base in the beauty industry is very large. “There’s a piece of the pie for everyone” you just have to find your niche!
HB: How do you balance being an entrepreneur/wife/mother?
Brittney Kelley: I make sure that I set aside time for everyone. As an entrepreneur, it is very easy to get caught up in your work. There can be nights where you can be up until 3am or 4am doing work. I try to create a work life balance. I am a wife and mother first. So that means if I have to spend a good part of the day with my family and then spend all night finishing up work, that’s just what I will do! My family is the most important thing to me. It’s truly a balancing act! Sometimes, I don’t even know how I do it!!
HB: Who is your womenpreneur inspiration and why?
Brittney Kelley: My womenpreneur inspiration is “Karen Civil”. She’s a great example of a woman that exudes self-confidence, women empowerment and not letting anyone deter you from your dreams! That is something that is so hard to come by in a society where people are constantly trying to drag you down.
HB: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Brittney Kelley: “Don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything.” I say this, because as entrepreneur’s we are constantly worried about everything. It’s just in our nature. You want everything to be perfect. We are perfectionist! Whether its worrying about who will like your product, if your product will sell or are you giving off the right image.
All off these things can take over our minds. So, this is something that was said to me and I try to stand true to it.
HB: What advice would you give to other women looking to start their own businesses?
Brittney Kelley: Just do it! Ask god what he wants you to do and do it!
HB: Did you ever doubt your ability to “do it all?” Why or why not?
Brittney Kelley: Yes, there are many times that I doubted myself. You will always have naysayers, that say “O there are thousands of lipstick companies” or “everyone has a lipstick line”.
I had to push through. My husband and my family are my biggest supporters and they never let me stop believing in myself. I pray every night and still do, for god to continue to lead me on the path that he wants me to be on. I would say that he’s leading my life in his direction.