West of Ivy co-founders redefine boundaries of Black women in music every day

West of Ivy co-founders redefine boundaries of Black women in music every day
West of Ivy co-founders Nnenna Anyaugo and Bré Kelly. (Photo credit: Rashad Milligan for rolling out)

West of Ivy co-founders Nnenna Anyaugo and Bré Kelly have navigated through the music industry their own unique way. The entertainment agency has worked with acts like WizKid, Luka Sabbat, Raury and Kel P. Recently, the dynamic duo stopped by rolling out to talk about the origins of their business as well as their thoughts on Women’s History Month.

How has Women’s History Month been for you?

Kelly:  It’s funny that Women’s History Month is a thing because we’ve just always been operating just like ourselves.

Anyaugo: We’re women 365 days a year. Hats off that they take a month to represent us, but we’re women every day.

How did you two meet?

Kelly: We actually first met in college. She went to VCU, I went to Maryland and I had a lot of friends at VCU. So I was always on campus, and we would see each other around and have mutual friends. Then, she moved to New York. I was interviewing in New York, and we re-met up in New York. The rest of history after that.

Anyaugo: We linked for happy hour at Black Swan off Bedford Avenue. We were just vibing. We planned like, “This is what we’re trying to do, this is what we’re trying to create.” It was just a synergy there. We felt like, “You’re dope. I’m dope. Let’s just continue to build.”

What’s the music culture like in the DMV?

Anyaugo: It’s very safe because the government is right there, so it’s very structured. Creatively, you can definitely pop out, but to be supported? It’s not as much as it is in New York.

Kelly: There are a lot of great artists that have come from D.C. Obviously, we have Dave Chappelle and Wale. But it’s not as booming as it could be because there are so many other underlying things that are going on over there. It does have a sense of community that is great. I’m happy that I was brought up in that area because I was able to see Black people, who look like me, do great things like excel and go to school, get good jobs and start their own businesses. D.C. has a very rich culture. It definitely was a great start, but in order to do what we wanted to do, we knew we had to be somewhere where it was more of a melting pot.

For all the young Black girls reading this right now, what are some tips you’d give them for succeeding in male-dominated spaces?

Anyaugo: I would say, “You’re a woman. Continue to lean on your feminine qualities.” I think oftentimes you’re talking about women in business, and [you hear], “You got to move like a man,” and that’s not the case. You are exactly who you are for a reason, so lean on your strengths, lean on those nurturing qualities, those perceptive qualities, really hone in on that.

Watch the full interview below.

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