With the flood of clothing boutiques, sneaker shops, and other fashion-related Instagram businesses, it is very seldom that something catches my eye. However, when I saw a post featuring a pair of bedazzled Converse called Bella Femme, by Briannah Wilright, better known as @prettybbaby of @fashionbfix, I knew she was onto something special. I reached out to Briannah to order a pair of the Converse that caught my attention, but she declined to create the exact same shoe. “You have to customize your shoe for what you want,” she said. “People spend their hard-earned money on something only for other people to have the same exact thing; I want my customers to feel special, that they have something no one else does.” Her soul is in every shoe she designs. I knew I had to meet the amazing talent behind this bling, because she was the real diamond.
Lucky for me, Briannah was in town for New York Fashion Week and I had the opportunity to catch up with her.
“I came to New York on an opportunity I was given and had the experience of a lifetime. Cool is an understatement for what I experienced. I was invited to see all these different fashion shows, Karigam, Tadashi Shoji, and Concept of Korea, and experience the New York culture; everything moves so fast. I was really hungry at times, but couldn’t stop—I had to finish working, LOL. Sometimes as a business owner you have to take risks, invest in yourself, in your business, and this was one of those times.”
What inspired you to begin your journey into fashion and designing?
I have always liked fashion, been a trendsetter, never match, and thought it super cute. As far as shoes, I like how they look, so I gave it a try and always was good at it. So, I’m sticking with it.
Is it strictly shoes that you bedazzle?
No, not at all. Fashion B Fix has a lot of stuff coming up. I recently did a hat that you can check out on my Instagram. Eventually I want to do a clothing line. A range of different things, not just shoes. Mythbuster, I don’t only do Converse. I do all shoes (chuckles). As you’ve seen today, I did a pair of Steve Maddens. I also do men’s, women’s, and children’s, and I don’t only bling.
What custom work do you specifically design currently?
Right now I’m open to customizing anything the customer would like; shoes, hats, purses, not so much making clothes at this time, but I’m open to all challenges.
What social media platforms do you use to promote your business, and what ways do you find them to be successful?
I use Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook. I get a lot of followers from all platforms; however, I have a bigger response from Facebook.
How important of a role do you feel social media plays in growing your business?
I feel social media plays a big role, because your stuff is out there. People can go like “Oh wow, who did that?” I get a lot of that, especially on Facebook because I get a lot of people who share my stuff. On Facebook it is easy; you can like, share, post, and I get responses from that. I get orders from all around the world. I just sent four pairs of shoes to New Orleans. So it plays a big role. You have to do tons of self-promotion and consistently build your brand. I’m guilty of not being a big social media person, so for me to manage three platforms is very challenging, but it plays an avid role in building up business.
Who is your fashion inspiration?
I have someone very close to me, my cousin Mary, who is a stylist here in New York. For my shoe line, Bella Femme, I actually designed the shoes for a photo shoot and I know how much she loves Paris, so I called them Bella Femme, which means beautiful woman. Fashion and music play a big part in my inspiration, because there is always something new coming out. Although everything around me is inspiration.
What do you think about Kanye West’s fashion line?
I have seen some of his work and I think it is pretty dope. I haven’t seen everything so I can’t give a full thumbs-up, but I see him and Kim K always pretty doped up, so that’s cool.
Do you follow anyone on Instagram that you would recommend following?
So many to name: @badgalriri, @88Luxx, @sorellaboutique, @nastygal, @beastmodestore, @etceteramodus, @h.u.movementclothing, @samjomakeup, @nadiyakhan, @noahpierce, @prlphotos, @gooch427, @doperamagazine, @doperaclothingco, @27hangers, @karrueche, @zendaya, @bookofanh, @shopnikolnitchelle, @artistrybyamber, @glamedstudio, @Kreativecoaching, @sleepisfortherich, @anna_dello_russo, @yai_313, and more.
Top five things you can find in your purse.
Hmm . . . my wallet, MAC lipstick, highlighter, cell phones and chargers (yes, I have two), and mascara.
How are you currently empowering other women?
I try to do it through my shoes and social media. I tend to post a lot of inspirational posts for girls and women, showing me naturally or empowering other women in a positive way. I started from scratch and people love what I’m doing and I am okay with showing that. Showing the struggles, the good and the bad. On Snapchat, you can find me working out or saying, “Good morning, loves” or “You’re beautiful, in case no one tells you today.” I just fully support women! Shout-out to all my ladies.
How was this business born? Are you working somewhere else? How are you juggling the balance if so?
The name originated back in my younger, younger years when I was doing hair. I hung on to the name and rolled it over into this business. For a while I thought about what I was going to do with this, and I knew I wanted to do something with clothing. I still work full-time as a caseworker at a hospice facility. I have been in health care since I was nineteen. I was sitting around one day, just thinking, “Man, I’m more creative than this, I have to do something else.” I actually worked on these Converse (that I’m wearing) and they came out dope. These sneakers are the first ones I ever made and I was saving them for a special occasion. From there it took off with people wanting me to make them stuff. I got my business license and went from there. Every day is a learning curve and I’m still working out the kinks. I’m thankful to have my sister for support, who’s there every step of the way. She handles the business side while I work on the creative and focus on shoes.
Any advice you have to give to other women or businesses for finding clients when in the beginning you don’t have a lot of money or time for marketing and promoting?
I’m still in that phase. The best advice I can give is to do what you can and set small goals. I am still working full-time, and have bills to pay like we all do, so I knew I couldn’t do everything at once. It’s a work in progress. I set goals for myself, small goals; for example, I couldn’t get my business license one week, but I said the next week I would make it happen. It is going to be hard and some days you won’t feel like it, but stay focused.
I am grateful that I have family support to keep me motivated, but for those who don’t, go find it on social media. Constant posting is free on Instagram and Facebook. Someone is going to see it, share it, and do word-of-mouth. Some things you have to do for free. Don’t go into it thinking you are going to make fast money. You want long-lasting money, which takes time, not fast money that goes even faster. Take small measures; do research. I mean yesterday I was at a big photo shoot and I had a beautiful South African model wearing my shoes and it was bomb.dot and she had on my stuff and it’s going to get seen around the world. I have someone else wearing my shoes that travel all the time, so again my shoes will get seen all over. Never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth.
What has been your biggest challenge to date for starting and growing your company?
My biggest challenge has been and continues to be me, because I literally have no help. I customize all my own orders. My hands touch each and every order. My shoes are different, because I do all the customizing by free-styling and I’m my biggest critic. I’ll say “That’s not right” or “That’s super dope.” I’m learning to not second-guess myself as much, and I do and look at the positive side of things. I like everyone to feel unique.
Currently there are so many women starting businesses, especially within the African American community online and off. Do you see this as competitive or an advantage?
I don’t want to be in competition with anyone, I want to empower. Competition is a sport and this isn’t a sport to me. I follow Eye Candy and their shoes are dope, and I don’t see them as competition. It is more a way of seeing how you can improve. I would love to collaborate with other women, especially African American women. I want to see us grow together.
What are you plans to expand your brand?
My plans are to collaborate and do a big photo shoot, build an online store, and offer more cool stuff to come your way.
How can people place an order?
First make contact by email: firstname.lastname@example.org, and then you can reach me on Instagram or Facebook. Hit me up on either one of those platforms and I will get back to you shortly.
What advice would you give to young girls?
A lot of things you see can be misleading. What you see is not always what you get. The pretty girl you see may not be able to pay her rent. Be you, you will appreciate it later and someone else will too. What you see is not always what it’s cracked up to be. Be yourself, go to school, and get your education. We worry about image, but pray and just be the best you can be. Everything that glitters isn’t gold. Look like you, not anyone else, and remember you’re pretty, in case no one else told you that you are. Be you!
To keep up with Briannah, follow her on Instagram and a special congratulations to her and her fiance.
the VIRGO GIRL FIVE THINGS TO ASK:
What would you tell your 21-year-old self?
To start this then. Start by saving money.
I start my day with . . .
If you could invite any woman to dinner, who would it be?
Best advice you have received?
To pray and to save money.
Life motto you live by?