BEYONCÉ: You write your own lyrics, you co-produce your own tracks, you write your own treatments for your videos, you stage all of your performances, all of the choreography ... Where does the inspiration come from?
SOLANGE: It varies. For one, I got to have a lot of practice. Growing up in a household with a master class such as yourself definitely didn't hurt. And, as far back as I can remember, our mother always taught us to be in control of our voice and our bodies and our work, and she showed us that through her example. If she conjured up an idea, there was not one element of that idea that she was not going to have her hand in. She was not going to hand that over to someone. And I think it's been an interesting thing to navigate, especially watching you do the same in all aspects of your work: Society labels that a control freak, an obsessive woman, or someone who has an inability to trust her team or to empower other people to do the work, which is completely untrue. There's no way to succeed without having a team and all of the moving parts that help bring it into life. But I do have—and I'm unafraid to say it—a very distinctive, clear vision of how I want to present myself and my body and my voice and my perspective. And who better to really tell that story than yourself?
This is interesting to me given the modern idea of creating your own brand. Self image as it comes to professionalism has become increasingly prevalent in the age of entrepreneurialism. More and more people are becoming more cognizant of their image not only for possible employers, but to truly connect with their audience based on their personal values. Regardless of if you're main goal is to sell a product or to simply share your life, your interactions are directly influenced by how you portray yourself to the world.
Entrepreneur.com explains that establishing a personal brand is mainly about sharing authentic experiences and connections with others on a larger platform before a business plan or promotion ever comes into play. While increasing the number of readers and amount of traffic on my site is a goal of mine, the most fulfilling thing I've experienced through having my blog is being able to share my life journey through my writing and connect with people that I wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to connect with. Doing things like using a particular font and/ or the color yellow when I make the images to share new posts, using @kesifelton for my social media accounts, or using "kf" at the end of my posts and as some of my profile pictures are all small steps I've taken to create a consistent social media image. The idea is to have something that people can automatically associate with you. When people see my initials in lower-case on my Twitter and Instagram, I'd hope that they associate that with me or my blog.
As a Black woman, especially, taking charge in becoming aware of who you are and what you stand for in a society that tries to define us for us is so important to me now. Solange stressed the idea of controlling your own narrative, which was another interesting point. No one in this world has the ability to define who you are unless you give them the ability to do so. Especially when it comes to a particular career field or passion, not letting people dictate your every move lets you take control of your life and makes you accountable for your decisions. Similar to what Solange expressed, attempting to be in control or see your vision through as you've envisioned it often leads to negative feedback as a Black woman, or a woman in general. Why people wouldn't want a leader who isn't easily influenced and is steadfast in the execution of what they hope to give to the world is beyond me. Considering educated opinions and help is great if those people genuinely want to see you succeed, but allowing any and everyone to decide who you are and what you do for you is counter intuitive.
Many people ask why they should be so concerned with their personal brand as it seems as another way for self-exploitation and promotion, but the biggest thing that I've taken from reading different articles and blog posts so far is that it allows you to directly align your work with your values and who you are as a person. I want to embody the idea of putting in the work to discover what means the most to me so that my work is meaningful. The Black Women Brand describes the initial steps to branding yourself starts with establishing your values, learning about your audience or the people you hope to reach, and then cultivating authentic connections with those people through your content and image. It's important for more Black women to take this into consideration as a means to bring each other together and help each other succeed while still accomplishing our own individual goals; mainly to eliminate the "there's only room for one of us to succeed" dialogue.
We all know Solange and Beyoncé for being very restricted when it comes to sharing details about their personal lives. Each of the Knowles sisters' respective projects offered a glimpse into their journeys of self healing (Beyoncé's which I talked a little bit about in "Why 'Lemonade' was Everything I Needed and More") without offering a play-by-play of their actual daily lives. Both projects included visuals that were full of purposeful and intentional images to add to their overall messages, some of which have been pretty political. More people are able to connect to songs like Solange's "Cranes in the Sky" or Beyoncé's "All Night" because their messages relate to their respective brands as well as authentic experiences that we all relate to. When it comes to image, it is obvious both women take time and effort to carefully put together every musical and visual aspect of their performances to have a certain impact on their audiences (Perfect example: Beyoncé's 2016 VMA performance). Beyond Solange and Beyoncé's artistry, I think everyone can take a few notes not only from their work ethic, but also from the simple fact that they're two women who both embody the definition of a boss in their own right.
Other posts you should read:
8 Tips for Building Your Brand in 2017
How to Overcome the Limiting Beliefs That Hold You Back
How to Create a Bulletproof Mindset
Do the Work: Take Ownership of Your Life