IT GIRL: CHRISTINA DUREN OF BEAUTIFUL BROWN GIRLS

ChristinaD2

The entertainment industry is full of dynamic and inspiring women. GirlThatsMySong.com wants to celebrate those women because they are truly IT Girls. Christina Duren is a charming, dynamic, and motivational superwoman with years of industry experience under her belt. Duren is the founder of Beautiful Brown Girls, an organization that celebrates African American women. The organization holds a monthly brunch across the country, so women can network and bond to for a sisterhood. Beautiful Brown Girls already has over 7000 members, and it was only established four years ago. Now that is #ITGirlStatus

Get into the compelling interview below:

What made you want to work in this industry?

I started in the entertainment industry when I was 20 years old. I’ve always had a love for music but can’t sing to save my life [Laughs] so I decided to do the next best thing, promote those who could. I studied Communications and Public Relations in school and felt like the Music PR world was a perfect fit for me. I still remember watching the old MTV show, PowerR Girls, back in 05’ and wanting to be Lizzie Grubman. What’s funny is that I was SUPER shy, but I always had this very creative person locked inside of me that could think outside of the box when it came to reaching the masses, and I felt that the entertainment industry would be a great way to break out of my shell and do what I loved to do.

My love for finding ways to connect a product with consumers helped me as I transitioned out of the entertainment industry and into more event planning. In 2010 I moved back home to Miami from New York City and found myself in a position where I wanted to create genuine connections and basically find good girlfriends. That is what prompted me to start my own company, The Beautiful Brown Girls Brunch Club, a national women’s social group with a mission to provide a unique monthly social opportunity for women to come together in a relaxed non-judgmental environment to create long lasting friendships, and build their sister circle on and offline. Also coming from a very cut throat industry I wanted to create an environment that allowed women to empower each other and remove that feeling that they had to tear each other down to grow.

What was your best & worst internship and why?

I interned for several years during my college years. I would say my first internship at Def Jam Records in their radio promotions department started out as my most challenging internship. As a newbie to the industry I literally felt like I was thrown into the fire right out the gate. However it was one of my most rewarding experiences. I was so new to the industry and being at a major record label promoting artists like Ne-Yo, Mariah Carey, and Rihanna at the time really taught me how to grow thick skin, and not take everything personal.

That’s a big lesson you have to learn from jump in this industry. My best would be the internship I received through a writing contest with USA Today newspaper. Contestants had to write an essay on our dream job, which of course mine was running my own PR firm and that essay won me an internship at Lippe Taylor, a lifestyle PR agency that catered to women consumers learning alongside Maureen Lippe herself. I was able to attend brainstorming meetings, meet editors from major magazines like Marie Claire and more. Was a very exciting internship.

Do you ever feel that women don’t get a fair shot?

The industry has grown so much in the last 10 years and I do feel that women now have a level playing field. When I started out in the music industry it was very male dominated field, and women had to literally bull doze down doors to get fair treatment. However icons like Sylvia Rhone, Marvet Britto, and more have blazed trails for women to be respected in this industry.

BrunchClub

What is the best thing about your job?

Working in entertainment PR really groomed me for what I am doing today with Beautiful Brown Girls. Being able to identify and connect with your target demographic is key to running a successful business, and PR and marketing is all about finding an innovative way to do that. The best thing about what I do now is witnessing the connections that I see the ladies make between each other. The brunch club started out as a hobby for me to have a release away from my 9-5 and do something fun with fun people. I pride myself on providing a welcoming social atmosphere that puts the ladies nerves at ease and from there networking and building friendships, businesses, etc. together amongst members is bound to happen, and seeing those connections happen is the best thing about my job.

What moment in your career made you feel like, I’m doing something right?

I would say that moment came after our first brunch when I received a flood of comments from members about the amazing time they had, and that they were anxious for the next event. That’s when I knew that I was on to something and that what Beautiful Brown Girls was providing was very much needed among women.

What is the worst thing about your job?

I wouldn’t necessarily call this the worst part, but something I still struggle with daily is knowing when I need to take a moment for myself. When I worked in the music industry the grind was real, everybody was grinding making you want to grind even harder, plus add in living in the one of the most fast paced cities in the world will have you always thinking about going hard ALL the time. When I started my own business I wanted to do as much as I could, all of the time. You get burnt out fast and that helps no one at the end of the day. Knowing that I wanted to do this for the rest of my life I knew that I had to learn to sometimes give up some of that responsibility to someone else and take time to replenish myself.

Has there ever been a time when you wanted to just quit?

Several! Being an entrepreneur is not for the weak at heart. The scariest part of it all is that all the decisions whether good or bad fall back on you because they are yours to make. It can be a very daunting task, but so rewarding too as you see results happening. I keep myself motivated by going through past pictures of Beautiful Brown Girls events. The smiling faces of ladies who have gained so much from coming out and fellow-shipping together keep me on the grind.

ChristinaD1

What advice would you give yourself at 21?

Dream Big! I was a newbie to NYC at 21. Just getting my feet wet in a new city and a much faster pace than I was used to. If I knew then the life I would be living right now I would tell her to dream big. At that time I was just trying to get through each day and not be overwhelmed. There were a lot of opportunities I let pass me by because I was too scared to step up and challenge myself. I would tell her to let go of that fear and embrace her purpose fearlessly.

What advice do you have for girls just breaking into the industry?

Be Patient. We live in a society where we need instant gratification to motivate us to go to the next level and if we don’t see that instantly we let that easily deter us from reaching our goals. There were many times that I felt that I was moving nowhere fast. However, I was able to recognize that those moments really taught me patience and made me pay attention more to the smaller goals that I was accomplishing along the way.

What has been the highlight or favorite moment of your career thus far?

The highlight of my career so far was being recognized by my peers at the ICABA (Identify. Connect. Activate. the Black Accomplished) World 2012 ICABA Honors event that honored the 100 Most Accomplished Black Community Leaders & Entrepreneurs in South Florida as a Rising Star honoree. I was amazed at the pool of accomplished black leaders that I was a part of. It was very humbling and motivating to continue to create opportunities for my community to thrive.

Who are your Top 5 favorite artist right now?

I’m a R&B/Soul/Hip-Hop girl. My Top 5 artist are; Beyonce, Erykah Badu, Jay-Z, Maxwell, & Emily King

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In 5 years I see the brunch club growing worldwide. We currently have 10 chapters in several different major cities nationwide; Houston and Dallas, TX, Miami, Tampa, and Jacksonville FL, Los Angeles, North Jersey, Raleigh/Durham NC, Washington D.C., and Atlanta. My goal is to double that number in 5 years, expand our online magazine to a print magazine, and create a national conference for women all over the world to get together for a weekend of sisterhood and empowerment.

Where did you see yourself being today 5 years ago?

Five years ago, Beautiful Brown Girls was not a thought in my mind; however I did have a feeling that it was time for me to transition to something different work-wise. As much as I loved the entertainment industry I always felt a tug in my heart to think bigger. I wanted to grow marketing wise and I wanted to go into more corporate marketing and explore that world. Luckily I did end up moving into corporate marketing after 6 years in the music industry and was able to apply a lot of what I learned from the entertainment industry in a more corporate way. Having the experience in marketing and PR from both worlds coupled with my new found love for connecting women was a recipe for success when I decided to launch the Beautiful Brown Girls Brunch Club.

 

By. Ian Jarrell