Sabrina McKenzie talks Bronner Bros.’ legacy and ‘Happy Hair’

Sabrina McKenzie 2

It’s a new day at the Bronner Bros. Hair Show, and Sabrina McKenzie, the new show director, is adding her unique mix of fresh style, creative spirit and love of people to create an experience that exhibitors and stylists will not soon forget. The theme of this year’s Bronner Bros. Hair Show is Happy Hair, it’s an inward emotion expressed outwardly, and as the Bronner Bros. enterprise celebrates its 67th year — happy hair has become a way of life.

Read what she has to say.

How did you land this fabulous job as the show director for the Bronner Bros. Hair Show?
The Bronners had been mentors of mine for a very long time. They knew of my previous background in event management and event planning. And when the position became available, they asked me to interview for the job.

Please describe your leadership style.
I would say that my leadership style is very stern, disciplined and cutting edge. I like change and I like to bring change. I like things that are relevant, things that are fresh, things that are new. I always, as it relates to leadership, attempt to maintain discipline while making sure I stay current with what’s going on in the industry of beauty.

What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
First is vision. Making certain that we have a vision that propels us into the 21st century as leaders and as trendsetters in the industry of beauty.

And then executing that vision by preparing a strategy that helps us meet and obtain our objectives.In our objectives, there are several areas that I’m constantly trying to reinforce and one is the branding and marketing of the company, making sure that people are aware of the historical legacy that Bronner Bros. represents. Also making the community aware that we not only have a historical legacy, but we’re also a part of the future by providing things that are setting trends.

The branding, the marketing, which consists of the PR, the strategy as it relates to making the show work — the contractors, lights, sound, staging, presentation, models — every entity that is required in making the show a success from A to Z, that’s what I do.

What are the top benefits of doing business with your company?
From an exhibitor standpoint, the best benefit is [Bronner Bros.] has the largest ethnic hair show in the world. So if your client base is the ethnic market, you’re not going to find a larger hair show that gives you over 200 classes, that offers you top educators in the industry and that focuses on the direct target audiences to which exhibitors cater.

From a stylist perspective, they have an opportunity to, for a very small fee, partake in something in getting education and training to help start, grow and maintain their businesses.

How do you approach business challenges?
I approach business challenges depending on what the challenge is, every challenge is unique. For me, it’s important to do a few things.
First I listen – and I listen for the purposes of not responding but to understand what the challenge is. I usually, when I hear a challenge, ask the person speaking to repeat it, then I repeat it to make certain that I am effectively communicating the challenge. Once I’m aware of the obstacle, I try to come up with a solution.

I’m solution oriented.

I don’t really like problems. I tell people when they bring me problems to also bring the answer.

Secondly, when someone brings me a problem, I ask the person what s/he would do in that situation to resolve whatever the problem is at hand, so that’s another point of my leadership style — it’s just really us trying to work together as a team.

Many people in the company have been there for almost 20 years. I am one of the youngest of the group in terms of seniority. In that regard, I try to hear things [my colleagues] have but at the same time not be stuck there, but to be open to change and new things; to see how we can bring some of the things that they’ve done well into the future and get rid of things that are not working.

What are two key factors for success in business?
Definitely being relevant, and to me being relevant is making sure that the consumer is always driving the supply. It’s supply and demand. We respond, create products and create a show based on the needs of the stylists. Anytime we get to a point where we’re not meeting their needs, then we’ve become irrelevant.

Relevancy is essential to any business for its success, because if you don’t have people buying your products and coming to your shows, you won’t have a show after a while. So relevancy is number one.

And two, always grind. Stay on your hustle. Stay on the cutting edge. Don’t wait for someone to create a trend and jump on the bandwagon, you have to be the one to set the standard for the industry.

Bronner Bros. has been doing what we do for 67 years, there’s not too many companies, black or white, which have that landmark trade. We’ve been doing this a long time – long enough to know what works and what doesn’t work. I think to be successful in this, and to continue its success, we have to continue to set trends, based on what we know works.

What do you want your legacy to be, both personally and professionally?
It’s so ironic because, what drew me and attracted me to the Bronner Bros. brand is that they’re not just a company, but they’re a family; a family who have been taught legacy, inheritance and integrity. Those three [elements] are things that the Bronner brand has that I haven’t seen be compared in all my years of business.

So those things really attracted me to the company and those are the things that I’d like to leave as part of my own legacy.

Inheritance, integrity and family.

At the Bronner Bros. Company, it’s not just hair. It’s about a way of life. It’s a lifestyle. These men are men of God who live their brand. They are about a healthy lifestyle in terms of eating habits, they are about a holistic lifestyle in terms of their spirituality, and that’s what they take in the business classes to become successful.

I love the way they put God first and if I can leave any inheritance, it would be for my family to adopt those principles and those are some of the things that I glean while I’m in this position. I don’t just give — I’m receiving.

My business legacy would be [conveying] that you don’t have to be to boxed into one genre. I happen to be an ordained pastor, a licensed Chaplin, I happen to be a dance minister, I happen to be an author of four books, I happen to be a mother, I happen to be an entrepreneur, I happen to be the show director of the Bronner Bros. Company, I happen to be a branding coach.

The boxes and the circles that people place around you do not limit you.

I would like to leave, for those that are looking to me, the opportunity to create your own line. So when people draw a box around you, you can erase it and draw your own line.

That means that you have the potential to be whatever you want to be based on the gifts that God has given you. And that’s what I would love for people to get from my business style.

How are you using technology and social media to benefit the organization?
[The use of technology] is one of the areas that I had been savvy with using to build my personal ministry before coming to the company. In doing so, we have ministry that galvanizes dance ministers from all over the world. So I know the power and the unification in being able to speak and communicate a message to people who share the same ideology. With that being said, I understand the power of social media.

Technology is one of those things that is constantly changing around us and for those people who don’t get in the will of change, they get left. For the Bronner brand it is essential for us to be on the cutting edge of social media, so we use every aspect of social media — we’re on Vine, we’re on Instagram consistency; we’re on Facebook, Twitter. We use campaigns to send our newsletter, Constant Contact, we have voice messages, Skype – anything we can use to communicate the messages that our customers and our stylist need, we try to do that.

Social media and technology are at the pulse and the heartbeat of the Bronner Brand.

What are some quotes that keep you motivated and affirmed?
• “Never reduce who you are to make others feel better about themselves.”
• “I found God in myself and I loved her fiercely.” – Ntozake Shange
• I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

• He who has begun a good work in you shall complete it until the day of Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)

Because no matter what challenges you face in life, there is deliverance. It doesn’t matter where you find yourself, what matters is where you end up. And where you end up is the destination that God as preordained.

Name three business leaders who inspire you. Why?
• Nathaniel Bronner: He represents from a business perspective what I aspire to do.
• Cathy Hughes: I admire all of the groundbreaking things she has done.
• Oprah Winfrey: She was able to create a multi-level marketing genius of an operation by utilizing one platform to cultivate many different areas.
• Russell Simmons: I admire how he was able to take a genre of music and turn it into a lifestyle. I believe he is a marketing genius.
• Napoleon Hill: He is deceased, but I listen to his messages on CD in my spare time. His legacy does not compare to his genius.

Describe your networking style.
I love people. Building relationships. As a whole, networking is fairly easy for me because, at the core, I just love people.

I love different styles, different shapes and different cultures.

I think the greatest travesty of many people is that because we’re different if people don’t understand something they fear it, which leads to judgment.

Differences excite me.

Finish the following sentences:

Teamwork is important because  … teamwork makes the dream work.

The best way to recruit great talent … is to be great talent.

Bronner Bros. Hair Show is August 2 – 5, 2014. Visit for more information.

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