Women In Business Spotlight: Brown Skin Brunchin’ Global Organization Providing Women of Color a Safe Space to Connect
Lillian Jackson and Melissa Mason, creators of Brown Skin Brunchin’ desire that Black women feel seen, connected, appreciated, and heard when they choose to join one of their brunches or our VIP early access membership. Lillian and Melissa also want them to feel like they’ve made lifelong connections with women who are in arms reach. The entire reason they started Brown Skin Brunchin’ was to help create new friendships and Sisterhood. The global impact of Brown Skin Brunchin’ is reflected in the lives of women knowing they are able to be themselves in the skin they are in free of bias and judgment.
Brown Skin Brunchin’, is a nationally recognized community of over 40K black women and the global market leader in brunch social events for black and brown women. Operating in over 87 cities worldwide and counting, BSB hosts brunch monthly events in cities such as Los Angeles, Miami, Paris, London, New York, Houston, and Las Vegas and is expanding at an exponential pace.
What does it entail to be the ambassador for Brown Skin Brunchin’?
Lillian: If anyone is interested in hosting an event for us, they will go online and they will complete the application. For the screening and onboarding process, they will go through our ambassador coordinator, her name is Jessica. She’ll do an interview with them to get an idea about their background. Overall, the role itself entails being really sociable, relatable, and approachable. You have to research, find venues, select the dates, make the reservations, and reach out to us regarding any issues with contracts, and things like that.
Everyone has a great time during the brunches. The ambassador makes sure everyone shows up and is interacting with one another. The ambassador is a host making sure the whole process and the experiences are flowing smoothly for everyone while they’re at the brunch.
Melissa: We’re really grateful to be able to have so many women behind us that are supporting us, our mission, and the brand. One of the important things is that when we’re looking for ambassadors and thinking about if we should bring them on or not, we’re really looking for women that will help us foster a culture of connection, community, and enjoyment. Because that’s the core of what we are and why we do what we do.
I’m interested to know what were you doing prior to 2018 before you started this brand together.
Melissa: Basically working full time, taking care of families, working on businesses, and brainstorming. I work full-time for the state, and Lillian has a history in HR. During 2018, there were just a lot of changes. Lily moved across the country and then there were work-life changes as well. During this time we were really trying to figure it all out and how to maintain and build more relationships with people.
You’ve been friends for 30 years, did you go through separation anxiety? How did you keep your friendship intact all of these years?
Lillian: I would have to say the move away probably brought us closer. Because when you have someone there that’s in your everyday life, you kind of start to take them for granted. You don’t realize some of the little things that you have access to. So once we were apart, we actually communicated more because we didn’t have easy access to one another. With going into business together, now we talk maybe every minute because we’re going through a lot of different things and trying to stay up to date with what’s going on with all the growth and fast movement that we’ve had with the company.
Melissa: But initially, yes, separation anxiety was real. And a big part of why we started the company is because we realized that all we had was one another and we really hadn’t learned how to make relationships and foster those connections with other people. And that was one of the core things of what we wanted to do figure out how do we make new friends as adults because we really missed one another.
How did the app come about and what has been the feedback from the app?
Melissa: So the app was first created because of Lily and I internal joke, we want to be our own Facebook. In addition to the website, what we wanted to do is create a way for people to communicate with one another, while still keeping it in an intimate setting, but in social networking style. So why not create a platform where they can know everyone is joining, everyone has put in the same information, everyone knows the whole process, and even go further than that, to break it down by city.
You can literally choose the groups that you want to be a part of whether you want to connect locally, or whether you want to connect nationally, or globally. So you that you have more control in the app and how you interact. You get to find people that are closer to you. Whereas on Facebook and Instagram, you may not be as open to doing something like that. So it was really more creating more of that community component. That was the driving force behind the app, finding a way to get people together in a safe space.
Do you have to be a member to be a part of the app? Or is it free for anyone to download?
Lillian: The app is free, but you do have to join the app as a member in order to really connect with anyone. There’s an option for both private and nonprivate. If you choose private, you can’t join any of the groups. So you do have to go in and become a member in order to fully interact with the group. So download away!
I understand you’re expanding the membership. What does that look like?
Melissa: One of the things that we’re working on now is focusing on higher caliber events so that we continue to grow from just our regular monthly brunch where everyone gets together. We’re now also producing events that are centered around bigger things like high-quality dining experiences, in addition to the fun and sisterhood that we’re already doing.
Lillian, what does the sisterhood with Melissa mean to you and Melissa, what does the sisterhood with Lillian mean to you?
Lillian: Sisterhood with Melissa to me means having someone there that’s going to show up for you no matter what. Whether I’m having a good day, or a bad day, I can always count on Melissa or I can call her and she’s gonna be there. We have a lot of different examples where I’ve been in some pretty tough situations. I’ve called Melissa and Melissa has said hold on, I am packing up my computer, putting on my tennis shoes, and I’m leaving work and I’m coming over, I got you. So for me, that’s what sisterhood has looked like with Melissa.
Melissa: It’s 100% the same! Sisterhood to me with Lillian means having someone that has your back no matter what. Someone who understands what you need without you actually saying what that is. And she’s been able to do that several times over and vice versa.
What are you most excited about this year?
Melissa: Continued growth! Our goal is to get to 100 cities and we’re 12 away. We will continue to expand nationally, and internationally, for sure. We started our European chapters this year. So we were super excited about that, that was a huge deal. Also, we’re looking forward to continuing to meet and connect with more women, seeing people in positive groups and situations, and trying something new while expanding their lives in ways that they never thought possible without this group.
Lillian: I’d have to say, we’ve been doing this in the background, part-time for the last five years, and circumstances would have it, I actually lost my job back in November. Instead of going to find another job, I told Melissa, this is the job, I’m betting on us now. Because we wouldn’t have been able to grow to where we are now by us only doing it part-time. So many things happened by putting our complete effort into it. Such as being able to bring on some of these new partners and resources that are experts. Now that we are putting key people in place, we’re betting on us.
Any final thoughts on what you would like to say to women who are just learning about Brown Skin Brunchin’?
Melissa: Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over and over again and expecting a different result. If you’re doing the same thing over and over and wondering why things aren’t changing, maybe you need to try something a little bit different. So especially when it comes to interpersonal relationships.
I think one thing COVID has really taught us over these last few years is life is short, and we don’t have time for foolishness. So if those relationships are unhealthy, whether you’ve been friends with this person for 30 years or three, they may not be the person for you. And if that’s the person, they may be in your life for a specific purpose. You need people for different things. So why not step outside that comfort zone and just expand your network, whether it’s personally or professionally. Find different ways to make your life better.
Lillian: Come join us, we’re looking forward to what’s ahead this year. And if women are looking for a group where they can genuinely make new connections with women, they can download our app in the App Store at Google Play, or the Apple Store at https://www.brownskinbrunchin.