Stacey D. Brown is a community activist, mental health advocate and entrepreneur. Brown is the founder and CEO of Femme Noire LLC, a company for women of color, by women of color, with the purpose of enriching their lives through empowerment, education and entertainment.
As a Black woman, what do you consider your superpower?
We live in a time where everyone has something to say but rarely do we pause to really hear each other. I purposefully pause to gain perspective and insight into the person’s needs rather than just stopping [and] waiting for my turn to speak again.
What key skill sets or qualities make you unique as a Black female leader?
Being a visionary. I’m not limited in my thinking what has been done and how we can make it better. My thinking is along the lines of what has never been done before and how can we do it?
What thoughtful or encouraging piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
There will always be obstacles and tests in life. Their sole purpose is to make you into the women you need to be to touch the people you were assigned to reach. Endure.
Why is it important for Black women to lead or work in leadership roles and decision making capacities?
Women of color have been leading from the rear for decades. It is time our contributions were recognized, valued and rewarded by taking the helm and setting the course first hand rather than going through channels. We need to show our children, specifically our daughters, what we know to be true: we run this.
If you could thank any Black woman history maker for her contributions to society, who would it be and why?
Zora Neal Hurston because of her willingness to speak truth to power even at the expense of her career. She understood that when you operate in your divine purpose, the seeds you sow will grow. She spoke truths that held powerful messages for generations that would come long after she had passed and gave them wisdom on how to keep on fighting the good fight.
Why is it important for seasoned and experienced Black women to reach back and help younger Black women?
This is an age where information is always at your fingertips. What the internet won’t be able to give you is wisdom in how to best utilize that information from the lens of experience. That is why mentoring the next generation is so important. To pass on the lessons we have learned so that they can be better equipped to handle the hardships life will throw their way.
How do you feel about the hashtag #CollaborationOverCompetition? What qualities or values do you deem indispensable in your business partners orcollaborators?
I love it. The African American community has over $1.2 trillion in spending power but yet our dollar only stays in our community an average of 17 minutes. Why? Because of the lack of willingness to collaborate so that everyone grows. We need to understand that we are much stronger together than we are standing alone. Take, for instance, the hair industry: it’s easier for someone outside our community to come in and compete with individual stores because of their limited resources. But if we gathered all of our resources to form a chain of stores that all the individual store owners have a stake in it makes it much harder. I value any partner that puts purpose before pride and people before profits.
As a successful woman in business, what is your greatest or proudest achievement?
Taking the leap to get started in the first place. So many people get stuck in dream mode and never make the moves to make those visions a reality.
Who is your biggest inspiration? Why?
My children seeing me make my own way. There is nothing more empowering than not just telling my children they can do whatever they put their mind to but showing them that mommy is doing the work every single day.
If you could have any person in the world become your mentor, who would it be and why?
Oprah. She is truly the personification of a visionary. She saw that having her own show wasn’t big enough. She knew owning a network could give far more opportunities. I also love how she is always finding a way to innovate and evolve. However, the trait that draws her to me the most is her spirit of generosity. I love how she gives with no worry of the consequence and has faith that everything she gives will be multiplied and given back to her.