How This Brand Strategist Is Building a Girl Gang for Black Creatives

Brittany Wilson is a woman you want to know. Formerly in fashion and marketing, she launched her design and branding studio, The Idea Girl, in 2017. Since then she’s been helping budding entrepreneurs and business owners figure out their company mission—and then going out and living it.

Below, Brittany shares the secret to her success.

What inspired you to start The Idea Girl? What need did you want to fill?

Two things actually inspired me, for one my multifaceted background often left it hard for me to find a career I thought I could grow with and hearing my family say things like “Jack of All Trades, master of none” didn’t help much either. I love creating beautiful things to make people feel good about themselves, and I’ve had many vehicles serve that common core. I’ve worked as a sales associate, visual merchandiser, and assistant buyer to passionately shop with strangers for their most intimate moments. I’ve also worked as a marketing manager, office assistant, and even become an operations manager for a Mitsubishi dealership to spice up the skillset. By age 24 I was working a crappy receptionist job and fighting a tough battle with depression. I was tired of getting hired, fired, and climbing up the ladder and losing to office politics.

Sick of being in a slump, I decided to create the life I wanted including a job I’d fall in love with. I realized that I was the go-to person at work and in my circle for all things aesthetic related from fashion to interior design, which created the “aha moment” of calling my brand The Idea Girl. I decided to take all my skills and talents and create a job title that included all of my expertise in one. I want to show women everywhere that we are malleable, fluid, and multidimensional and can manifest our thoughts into action. I want to show them that having a title holds no value and break from it boundless to be the creative forces that we are meant to be.

Two, the lack of economic power and freedom within the Black community is what shifted my focus to working with women of color specifically. Art, creativity, and talents are typically frowned upon in our culture due to the older generations faith in the hospital and government jobs. Many of us are tricked into believing that a college degree will provide us with security and a moderate paying job will be the safety blanket we need. WRONG! I wanted to break that generational curse that’s kept so many young people of color from pursuing their dreams and tapping into their innate and artistic abilities. Through The Idea Girl, we empower women of color into entrepreneurship by helping them dig deep within to monetize off their skills and talents through adept strategy and emotive design approaches so they can shine confidently next to their competitors and communicate with their clients. We needed a space where we can thrive financially, spiritually, and professionally to break generational curses and pass down our wealth. There weren’t too many creative safe havens for women of color, so I created one.

Decide what makes you feel good and progressive. Stress is real, not-so-easy clients are real, and time is limited—so make it worth your while and feel good all of the time.

You work solely with woman-owned startups and female entrepreneurs. What drove you to make this business decision?

I love working with women because I am a woman. Women are fighting adversity on a daily basis from their wages to their body rights. Starting my own business lit a fire in me that I never know could be ignited, a feeling so contagious that it was obligatory that I spread it. There is nothing like seeing another woman finally recognizing her worth, reclaiming her time, and fully investing her talents into a business to help solve issues both big and small. Forbes recently said that Black women are the fastest growing entrepreneurs in the nation, it makes me extremely proud knowing that I am one of the people behind the scenes accelerating this spike through my work to help women like me shine.

What’s been the most fulfilling part of your job? What about the biggest challenge?

The most fulfilling part of my job would have to be the look on my client’s faces when I bring their brands to life with design. Seeing is believing, so once they start seeing mockups and prototypes it’s like “Woah, sh*t’s getting real!” and the ideas and inspiration begin pouring in abundance. Their confidence beams through their smiles, and in that moment I know I am fulfilling my purpose. The biggest challenge would definitely be balancing my personal life and prying myself away from my laptop. Sometimes I’m so obsessed with what I do, that I’m afraid to go to sleep in fear of missing out of something. I even have to watch my dialogue when speaking to my boyfriend, friends, and family so it isn’t always work-related. My mind keeps me up, and I’m always overworking. I have to be extremely mindful of my body and the messages it sends me. If my body says she’s had enough, I know it’s time to hit the lights and to hit the sack. My biggest challenge staying healthy (mentally), keeping my body going, staying hydrated, and keeping anxiety at bay.

In the FAQ section of your website, you post your studio hours. This isn’t a common practice among entrepreneurs. Why do you think it’s important to let clients know your availability?

A friend of mine was actually the one who encouraged me to enforce office hours to set professional boundaries between my clients and I. There would be times where I would receive emails at 3AM and felt anxious and reluctant to answer every request at any given moment. It was wearing me down, so for the sake of my mental and physical health, I keep my office hours up to let my clients know the times they can catch me working and when they can get a response. Communicating that in the most professional way possible is also key. I let my clients know that I have every intention of completing their requests and I politely reiterate my policies and all possible options we can take to move forward. It’s important to inform clients and prospects the times they can reach me, but it’s just as imperative to let them know when I’ve clocked out for the day. I also have specific days set where I take phone calls that way I won’t lose track of time and can focus on my design projects for most of the week as that can also cause major distractions. Having a work schedule actually helps me leave work at work, so I can enjoy life outside of it; money isn’t the key to happiness but peace of mind most certainly is!

Time management definitely taught me the importance of managing effective office hours. You have to time everything you do and decide what makes you feel good and progressive opposed to funky and regressive. Stress is real, not-so-easy clients are real, and time is limited so make it worth your while and feel good all of the time. I set my boundaries with time and let people know to respect it in the sweetest and most professional way possible. Also, it kind of gives me a reason to light a spark my clients. It’s like being a coach or teacher, teaching them the importance of slaying their business goals in between there 9-5pm. Plus what I normally do, my clients follow suit to improve their lives. When I make better use of my time, so do they, and I love impacting them in that way.

You host GRLPWR Launches to help business owners hone their brand strategy and marketing solutions. Tell us a bit about what that process entails.

The GRLPWR is a combination of brand strategy, marketing, and creative solutions individually crafted for each brand I work with. Typically for business newbies or seasoned girl-bosses who want to implement a new endeavor, I work side-by-side with women to help get their ideas out of their heads and into their pockets by building out content plans, connecting them with ladies in my professional network who can help them execute their vision, and exploring future opportunities by mapping out their objectives and aligning them chronologically according to what makes the most sense right now in this moment. I give my clients the freedom to think out loud and devising a plan to get there from A to Z, figuring out where to monetize and what part of their business to invest in first. We start off with deep brainstorming where we formulate ideas and concepts with action plans to get started. Then they go through a series of workbooks to develop their brand and communications strategy before we develop a customized vision board before executing the launch.

The Idea Girl Gang celebrates Black creative women by sharing a safe haven for them to network, find jobs, learn skills and join a sisterhood of ‘sistas’ ready to cheer them.

You created the Idea Girl Gang to help black women in business find work and skill swap. How is the IGG different from other women’s career groups?

In the Black community there are sorority and fraternity organizations but very few that target Black women that are taking the road less traveled in not-so-ordinary fields. The Idea Girl Gang celebrates Black creative women by sharing a safe haven for them to network, find jobs, learn skills and join a sisterhood of “sistas” ready to cheer them. IGG welcomes all female-identifying creatives of all colors, classes, and creed. Although we primarily focus on providing professional resources for Black women, we welcome our community to all people who aspire to uplift and elevate women of color.

What do you think are some challenges that face female business owners and entrepreneurs today?

I think one of the main challenges is not being taken seriously or seen as a “boss” like our male counterparts. By stereotypical measures of gender roles, women are assumed to be incapable of making tough decisions or can’t be taken seriously if our clothes are too tight. Women are badass and we get the job done with no questions asked. We wear many hats and take on jobs as counselors, strategizers, designers, and planners. Sometimes I find myself adding a bit of bass in my voice when getting a point across or during a negotiation to show people I’m not here to play and that I am just as deserving to have a seat at the table. As a woman, it’s important to have an organization that promotes love for other women and sisterhood so we can be there for each other and break glass ceilings together.

That’s what wakes me up in the morning: knowing I’m collaborating with women from all walks of life to design the brand of their dreams.

Who are some female designers and entrepreneurs (maybe even some of your clients!) who inspire you? Why?

Lotta Nieminen is definitely the Queen of Design in my book. Her style is so minimalistic, clean, and abstract. Jade Purple Brown is also one of my favorite illustrators with her use of bold splashes of color and homage to women of color. Most importantly, all of my clients inspire me as they are the true Idea Girls. They come up with the most innovative and creative inventions with great intent. Not only are they slaying the day at their 9-5’s they’re rushing home to speak with me to build an entire empire. That is what wakes me up in the morning, knowing that I am collaborating with women from all walks of life to design the brand of their dreams.

What are you most looking forward to in 2019?

For 2019 I am most looking forward to the unknown, and just living life spontaneously. This year has started off amazing for me thus far with my first speaking engagement, two successful events, and traveling to meet my IG girlfriends in real life! I’ve been opening myself up to receive more love and I’ve been walking blissfully blind, hand in hand with faith. I trust myself a lot more, and I trust whatever the Universe has in store for me. Opportunities and doors are opening everywhere so I am ready for whatever 2019 has to bring. More life, more love, and more vacations!