Brittney is the middle child of three sisters. Her parents separated when she was young and she spent much of her childhood with her mother and a step-father she calls Dad. She started out in the rough side of South Jersey before she was called down to the suburbs of Virginia to live with her father and grandparents. “I think it’s better you start High School in VA,” her grandmother told her. From there Brittney spent her teenage years in Hampton Roads developing a passion for creative design. Brittney’s skill is visual and I think she’s a Fashionista. “I love anything Modern. I love anything with crisp, clean, sleek lines. I love Black & White with splashes of color. I feel like that describes me. A sleek line with a pop of color.” If we combine her skill with her unique philosophies, some might say Brittney is a Visionary.
I caught up with Brittney at her job in Cherry Hills, NJ. Technically, she was working, but we were able to chat it up while she showcased her multi-tasking skills. It was entertaining to see her with her ‘Boss Lady’ hat on. Brittney got her Master’s Degree from Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, which is commonly considered the Ivy League of Fashion. Brittney, 24, is one of the youngest Managers in the whole Nordstrom corporation. She manages a $3.5 million dollar sales floor with a team of 12 that includes 4 pacesetters. Her road to this success has had it’s rocky moments, but Brittney possesses a unique courage and independence that has separated her from the pack. I’m confident that Brittney’s star will only shine brighter as her story unfolds. A burgeoning Fashionista on this weeks #ShineHard Conversation.
What is your passion and when did you know?
Bee: Design. Across the board. Store, Cars, Interior, Hotels, Fashion. I like making things look good. And I guess I knew when people started to notice it, because it’s just been me. So I never really looked at it as a skill set, just natural. So when I started to put things together I was like “Wait a second. So I’m not the only person that kinda like thinks this is dope?? Ok! Could be onto something.”
Who did you look up to growing up?
Bee: Really no one besides Oprah. I’m so much of an individualist that I always just try to create my own path. I never wanted to shadow somebody else or use someone else’s blueprint for who I am because that’s when you start comparing. I just always did my own thing.
What is your goal as a Leader in the Fashion Industry?
Bee: My goal with this is to be a Creative Director. I got my B.A. in Fashion Merchandising from VCU, so of course retail is something I can clearly do as I continue to move up the ladder. I’m a people person, but I can’t really see myself sitting behind a desk all day managing a store. However if I’m a creative director I’m able to really get my creative juices flowing and that’s more me. I always find that it’s more stability when somebody else is cutting your check and as long as I’m the boss of what I do than that’s always guaranteed money in my pocket. Freelance isn’t really my style. I’m a “Put me in Charge and ima make it Happen” type of person.
So tell me about your experiences in Los Angeles..?
Bee: When I was at FIDM in LA, I broke away from the Richmond, VCU area and I found myself in a big pond of cultures and diversity. That’s when I was just like “Ok, I can just absorb all of this and still do my own thing with it.” I was so inspired by that city and the opportunities there. Working at Top Shop which is based out of the UK. You had a lot of different ethnicity’s, genres, and age groups coming to shop there. It is so fashion forward, ya know? I mean you could get a 70 year old woman with the sleeves(tattoos) and be like “Yoo Hiiii how are you!” Then working at Nordstom, you get the lady in here with her Burberry jacket and her Celine handbag with the Pixie Cut, you look and be like “ohh, OK!” I feel like I identify with both.
So how were you able to earn your position with Nordstrom at such a young age?
Bee: Working at Top Shop LA is actually what got me the Job here. Nordstrom and Top Shop collaborated because Top Shop only has four flagship stores in the U.S. so in order to get their name out over here, they rent space and have their own Top Shop departments in certain Nordstroms. The Regional Director, Pat M., from the Grove came into Top Shop LA to see what it was actually about and, low and behold, they asked me to walk him around. At the end of it he was like “I like you. You’re gonna come work for us at Nordstom/TopShop. Call me when you make it back to the east coast.” But Ironically, I ended up coming back to the east coast and getting on board with Nordstom on my own. Now I just call him with updates, he’s kinda like a mentor for me now.
What motivates you to succeed?
Bee: Ideally, I would want to say the fear of failure, but then at the same time I know that I can fail. I would just say, the fact that I can go for and do other stuff. Knowing that I have the potential to do whatever I want to do across the board. The opportunities are limitless.
What’s been your biggest challenges thus far, career wise and personally?
Bee: Hmm, I think these two go hand-in-hand because my personal life is so much wrapped around my career and that’s the challenge. Knowing that in the next..*clears throat and turns watch around* few years I probably cant be in a relationship because I’m always on the move. I have to accept the fact that I’m never really going to be somewhere permanently at this point in my life. I know that I have to continue to move forward in order to succeed and not everyone is mobile or ready to make moves. On the flipside, I know that when it’s time for me to be Cinderella, someone will be my yellow light and have that glass slipper waiting. I’m just getting myself together in order to match him, whomever he is. The personal challenge is the pain of out growing people; flying solo but being adaptable. Career wise, it’s just a challenge of wondering where I’ll end up and having faith. Knowing that ultimately it’s not MY plan.
Johnny: That’s real. Trust me I know exactly how that feels. It’s just vital that we overcome the fear of “Doing it Alone.” Most times we are meant to.
Being so young in your role, what have you learned about Leadership?
Bee: Respect means everything. It doesn’t matter, my masters degree, It doesn’t matter where I come from, how I look or how I dress. Sometimes I’m laughing or smiling and people say “Hey you know, just watch it because you don’t want people to walk all over you.” I say “Just because I laugh and have a personality doesn’t mean that I’m naive or gullible.” Sometimes you get the respect level up higher by just being yourself. They already have enough bosses. I don’t wanna be their boss. I’m a Leader.
What frustrates you the most about today’s culture?
Bee: OMG. Two things.
1. That nobody can be themselves! Its like everybody screams “I’m doing me”, I’m being such an individual” yet its not “You. Stop proclaiming to be something and just Be It. If you’re a unique individual, clearly, that will speak for itself. Don’t talk about it because now you’re the same.
2. Those people that do things for the validation of others, especially through social media. Capturing moments that make you look as though you’re about a life that you’re not I wish I could go back to the days when people wrote cards. Where things were personal and… heartfelt. It’s not like a text message where so many things get misconstrued. Me? I really don’t be by my phone. I post pictures on IG and delete the app. I work hard knowing that my resume will be a better judgement of me than my Instagram Personally, I feel like i’m a cooler person OFF line than you may think I am online.
Tell me about one of your most inspiring experiences..?
Bee: We were preparing to open the new Top Shop store on Valentine’s Day. It was Grand Opening week and we had all the corporate people from the UK fly in because it was Flagship store. I don’t know, just me being me doing customer service I got noticed. When you’re excelling you get an award, they call it “Fashion Role Model”. Which is kinda cool, because for as long as that store stands I was the first “Fashion Role Model” there. It wasn’t something I was like “Let me go out for this”, Nobody that worked there even knew that this was a thing. It was dope to be recognized by the Regional Manager from London.
What is the #1 factor to your success?
Bee: Perseverance. I feel like as long as you have faith and will power there’s really not too much that can get you down. Even if it does, I always find myself saying “I trip… but I aint gon’ fall! I might stumble a lil bit, but you know, cant see every crack in the sidewalk. But at the same time you’ll never see me sprawled out not getting back up either. A lot of that has to do with #1 Factor overall Perseverance. I’m built for this.
What Advice would you give to aspiring visual designers?
Bee: Figure out what it is that you want, the earlier the better. And understand that whatever it is that you decide, nine times out of ten its not gonna be that. So be prepared to reevaluate. Be prepared to start over. Be prepared to start from scratch. Be prepared to almost get to the end and it not happen again. But just know as long as you keep that main focus, whether it’s family, living a certain lifestyle, just keep going and you’ll get it. And also, BE YOU. I know it’s cliche but there’s a lot of meaning behind that.
Johnny: I figure “Hey, just Be You and the world will adjust” right?… Shine On Bee. @ShineHardFamily