Tony nominated Broadway actress Brenda Braxton is exceptional– she has graced the stage in fine and riveting performances such as Broadway’s Revival of the musical Chicago (in which she portrayed Velma Kelly), Dreamgirls, Jelly’s Last Jam, and Smokey Joe’s Cafe to name a few. Therefore, it is not surprising that Brenda has brought her exceptional talents in business to Harlem- where she is Owner of BBRAXTON, an upscale salon offering “Exceptional Grooming For Exceptional Men.” Bronze Magazine had the pleasure of catching up with Brenda to find out the secret to her success as an entrepreneur:
BM:Ms. Braxton,it is an honor to have this chat with you. Please share with us how you made the transition from Tony nominated Broadway actress to the proud owner of an upscale barbering salon.
BB: Thank You. The decision to open BBRAXTON came from the need for this sort of service. While we don’t cater only to African American and Latino gentlemen, there was a need to have an upscale establishment that was a natural “gathering spot” or networking venue. The Barbershop has always been the place for our gentlemen, so I took it a step further.
I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and this was the perfect way to ADD to my life’s body of work. I will never totally give up theater but I can say that BBRAXTON has become another passion for me. The potential is mind blowing!
BM:I find it quite remarkable that this is your Re-opening of BBRAXTON. Not many businesses are fortunate enough to have a second chance. What are your hopes for BBRAXTON this time around?
BB: My hopes for BBRAXTON are that we take it to many levels I feel are available. My brand is established and on a lot of tongues and I plan to keep us in every one’s mind. We have the first item of our line of products scheduled to launch by Father’s Day. I also have plans to expand to other cities.
BM:What challenges have you faced (if any) as an African American female business owner offering a service in a male dominated industry?
BB: The main challenge I faced was in finding financing. I began this dream in 2004. And while it’s always hard to find start up capital, it was even harder trying to convince banks and other lending institutions of the financial viability of an upscale barbershop, in Harlem, owned by a woman who had no background in the industry…well, need I say more. So I walked out on faith and approached friends and family then refinanced my home (twice) and took the chance.
BM:What impact has the return of BBRAXTON had on the Harlem community?
BB: I think the impact on the community was they realized how much they missed us. The saying “you never miss the water till the well runs dry” was true. Many of our clients shared that they didn’t realize how much they enjoyed their time at BBRAXTON. Even the condo owners in the building where our shop is shared say how they missed having a business in their building that they were proud of.
BM:What type of advice would you give to inspire other African American women seeking entrepreneurship?
BB: The advice I would give to other Women, not just African American, is JUST GO FOR IT!!! What have you got to lose? You dont’ want to get to the Pearly Gates with any regrets! I always say…I WANT TO SLIDE INTO HEAVEN WITH A DIRTY MARTINI IN ONE HAND, WEARING A PAIR OF PRADA SHOES, A FIERCE CORSET, CUTE PENCIL PANTS, BLOWING KISSES AND THANKING GOD!!!
Oh and…do your homework, know where your money is going, sign your own checks, know your business, be ready to spend 24/7 there if need be, delegate, get the experts to help you, know your strengths/weaknesses, AND KNOW WHEN TO SAY NO!!
BM:Is there a chance that BBRAXTON will offer services to women?
On February 11th, the Skin of Color Society held its fourth annual Media Day, where dermatologic experts discussed the many health and aesthetic skin issues that people of color tend to have and how to prevent them.