Brianna Bussell is an African American entrepreneur, born and raised in the toughest neighborhood in Chicago. Her accomplishments thus far, at age 26, illustrate a perfect example of beating the odds and not allowing your environment or upbringing to hinder you from doing great things. She started her first business during her sophomore year in undergraduate school, while studying for her bachelor’s degree in business management.
She went door to door and pitched small businesses on her web development and digital marketing services near campus. She soon started to grow her agency through word of mouth from satisfied clients. Fast forward, after graduating college, she continued to grow her digital marketing company with retail and e-commerce clients, bringing in millions of dollars of extra revenue for her clients.
She soon became a popular public speaker and was invited to present at local jails and elementary schools in low-income areas, talking about entrepreneurship and business. This was just one way she found to give back to her community.
One day, Brianna realized that she wanted to take things up a notch. She then launched her new companies Affluent & Black, Turn Your Grind Up (TYGU), and Cultured Toys. Each business also has a philanthropic mission behind it. For example, 50% of TYGU’s profits go towards local youth placement programs that give urban kids opportunities to experience activities they might not have ever tried before. Some initiatives have included computer coding classes, swimming lessons, piano lessons, horseback riding, archery, and a lot more that these children might otherwise never have been able to experience.
Cultured Toys seeks to showcase apparel, toys, and children’s educational products that help different cultures learn about business and entrepreneurship and to help them see more positive images of themselves at a younger age.
And for something completely different from the others, she created Affluent & Black, a podcast that discusses mental health and other issues that have negatively affected the black community, while at the same time providing solutions that show how the culture can move forward, as a whole, towards even more success. The podcast consists of very successful business owners sharing their personal experiences. The point of this is also to show that representation matters.
The list of other projects/businesses that Brianna is involved with goes on…
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Brianna Bussell: I was born and raised in Chicago. I started Cultured Toys this past year to showcase apparel, toys, and children’s educational products that help different cultures learn about business and entrepreneurship and to help them see more positive images of themselves at a younger age. I currently run a successful digital marketing and web development agency, as well. On top of that, I have a variety of other companies that were created to serve and give back to overlooked communities.
2020 and 2021 threw a lot of curve balls into business on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past couple years, how can businesses thrive in 2022? What lessons have you learned?
Brianna Bussell: Businesses can thrive in 2022 by not being scared and implementing various marketing initiatives. The competition will dwindle because many businesses will scale back due to the uncertainty in the world. Businesses that want to grow can quickly grab market share. This is the exact lesson I learned in 2020 and 2021. We were able to grow more once we stopped being “reserved” and started to put money into our infrastructure.
The pandemic seems to keep on disrupting the economy, what should businesses focus on in 2022? What advice would you share?
Brianna Bussell: In order to prosper, businesses should focus on their digital marketing, especially social media. When times get hard. most businesses tend to pull back to cut down on expenses. This creates more opportunity for other businesses to get market share. Some of the best businesses were built during recessions and times when other businesses were scared. Stay the course!
How has the pandemic changed your industry and how have you adapted?
Brianna Bussell: The pandemic hasn’t truly had an impact on my industry, besides increased sales. During the pandemic, parents found themselves working from home and needing activities to keep their children busy. Also, activities to help teach their kids since they weren’t in school. Our ABC cards are the perfect product for that, and we saw success with sales.
What advice do you wish you received when the pandemic started and what do you intend on improving in 2022?
Brianna Bussell: When the pandemic started, I wish someone told me to keep my eyes open for opportunities sooner. We’re seeing a lot of opportunities, but, we’re about 2 years late. I believe my businesses could’ve capitalized on a variety of things had we not been overly concerned about the pandemic, to the point that we took our feet off the gas a little bit.
Online business surged higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for 2022?
Brianna Bussell: This year, 2022, has seen sales slow down across many online markets due to inflation and less money in rotation. Our sales have been steady, however, this isn’t the case from many business associates that I know.
How many hours a day do you spend in front of a screen?
Brianna Bussell: All of my companies are online based, except one. With that being said, I spent about 11 hours per day in front of my laptop.
The majority of executives use stories to persuade and communicate in the workplace. Can you share with our readers examples of how you implement that in your business to communicate effectively with your team?
Brianna Bussell: When communicating with my team, I share a story when explaining the purpose of what we’re doing. I try to paint a picture of how people will be positively effected by the products we’re creating.
For example, Cultured Toys business ABC cards are meant to help our youth learn about business and financial literacy. When motivating my team during the design process, I depicted my vision of more and more kids starting businesses and being financially responsible because of these cards.
That truly lit a fire under my team.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Brianna Bussell: The challenge right now is messaging. Your messaging has to be spot on in order for people to purchase your product and trust your business. During the pandemic, there were too many scams and businesses with low quality product offerings. This created distrust with consumers. So, the biggest challenge will be creating attention-grabbing marketing creative. Once this is done, you have to send the right message to build trust and showcase your product or service benefits.
In 2022, what are you most interested in learning about? Crypto, NFTs, online marketing, or any other skill sets? Please share your motivations.
Brianna Bussell: I’ve started day trading stock options recently, and I’m finding a lot of success in it early on. I’ve always been a long-term investor, not so much short term plays. So, I’m most interested in learning more about stock options and of course digital assets such as NFTs.
The motivation behind it is that the world we live in very technological. Not knowing about the latest technology will only set you further back.
A record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September in 2021, accelerating a trend that has become known as the Great Resignation. 47% of people plan to leave their job during 2022. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. Do you think leaders see the data and think “that’s not me – I’m not that boss they don’t want to work for? What changes do you think need to happen?
Brianna Bussell: Yes, many bosses tend to have an overinflated ego, from my experience. They think their leadership style and way of managing employees is flawless. I’m sure there’s many that think they’re not “that type” of boss no one wants to work for.
Changes that need to happen is accountability, starting from the top on down. Owners of companies need to audit their leadership and ensure they’re performing at their peak, and ensure they’re not creating a toxic culture that employees want to leave.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Brianna Bussell: If I could pick one business superpower, it would be the ability to see how best I can help an employee reach their full potential. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. Not only that, people are led differently and are motivated by different things. If I was able to pinpoint how best to motivate my employees, the entire workplace would prosper.
What does “success” in 2022 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Brianna Bussell: Success in 2022 for me will be empowering more people in my community to learn high income skills and work towards financial freedom. Of course, while also ensuring Cultured Toys gets into as many households and schools as possible. We need business and financial literacy to be taught to our youth. The next time a recession or hard time comes along, we’ll be ready as a society!
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Brianna Bussell for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Brianna Bussell or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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