Upon brainstorming icons to highlight this Women’s History Month, we felt we would be doing ourselves a disservice if we did not speak to the living legend, media trailblazer, and overall fashion influencer Bevy Smith.
For those who may not be aware of her influential status, let us give you a brief introduction. Bevy Smith was a top-tier advertising executive at Vibe and later Rolling Stone magazine, before pursuing a successful career in TV hosting.
Known for her quick wit, business prowess, and overall authenticity, the Harlem-born commodity has paved the way for many women—particularly women of color—who have followed in her footsteps in the fashion, media, and entertainment industries.
Allowing her love for fashion to catapult her career, the entertainment mogul has not only become a household name, but a beacon of light for anyone who’s ever had second thoughts about pivoting their career (and overall life).
Fresh on the heels of her memoir meets self-help book, Bevelations: Lessons from a Mutha, Auntie, Bestie, we hopped on a Zoom call with Smith to talk about her list of accomplishments— and left with a wealth of knowledge. Using years of diligent journaling to complete her book, Smith proudly sums up one of her proudest achievements as “a 15-year journey.”
In the book, the 54-year-old highlights some of the biggest milestones in her life, including quitting her job to pursue a career in entertainment. “I actually did it. I transitioned from being an advertising executive to being a radio host, TV personality, author, and public speaker. I've written for various magazines. And now I have written a book. I did the things I set out to do,” she tells us exclusively. “Now it's time to open up a new batch of dreams.”
An advocate for knowing your worth, Auntie Bev candidly revealed the gems she uses every day to build her personal brand. Although we primarily focused on the fashion and media industries, it is worth noting that this advice can be applied to your everyday life. We hope this helps you on your personal journey to knowing your self-worth this Women’s History Month!
“Lately, most magazines want to have Black editors. We're getting some great opportunities, and that's good. However, I hate that we're getting these opportunities when there is not as much money attached to the job positions. [...] We have all these great editors that are working in corporate spaces, but now the budgets are small. Today, these positions don't come with the same clothing allowance or the day-and-night car service. Things have changed.”
“Our Black media professionals deserve more grace in the industry. I’d like to see more Black people on the business side of the media. As a fashion director, I was also on the advertising side. That’s where the money resides. And we need to always keep our eye on that dollar because if it don't make dollars, it don't make sense. If you have the power to go out and create revenue for a brand, you're powerful.”
“In my book, Bevelations: Lessons from a Mutha, Auntie, Bestie, I have a really great chapter called, 'The Red Sole Proposition.' In the chapter, I talk about how Manolo Blahnik was once the ‘it’ shoe before Louboutin came along and usurped it with its red sole. [...] Of course, Louboutin wasn’t the first shoe brand to do a red sole, however, they marketed it. They made people want it. It became a status symbol.
“In the chapter, I ask people to look at themselves and find out what can be their red sole. I tell them to answer three questions: Who are you at your core? How are you being perceived? How would you like to be perceived? Once you answer those questions, then you can start developing what your brand is going to be,” Smith adds.
She continues, “I also have a chapter called ‘Brand You.’ It is all about knowing your personal brand, and how you can actually have a personal brand within the company you work for. You don't have to wait until you become an entrepreneur to have a personal brand— mandate, and manifesto.”
“In the book, I have a chapter called, ‘Dare To Dream.’ There, I encourage you to tap into your biggest and most outrageous dreams. The dreams that you are scared to tell people because you don't want them to laugh at you. You don’t want them to judge you,” she explains.
“Say those dreams out loud, because that's what you should be moving towards. We have enough in our day-to-day lives where we have to hedge our bets, where we have to settle. Why should we settle on our dreams? We shouldn’t have to do that with our dreams. We should be big, audacious, and bold with our dreams.”
“I'm going into acting, and I'm filming my first role next week. I'm very excited about that,” she shares. “Before the pandemic hit, I actually went to an audition. In the book, I talked about how scared I was to audition, but I pushed myself. I couldn't decide whether or not I was scared to go into the audition because I was afraid about the pandemic, or afraid that I wasn't going to be good enough, but I went. I'm glad I went. They called me back for the role. So I mean, isn't that awesome?”
She continues, “So I'm going to be moving into that. I also want to do art and architecture curation.”
“Just because you're really good at one thing, doesn't mean you shouldn't try your hand at something else. We are all multifaceted,” she teaches. “Sometimes in this world, if you're really good at something, people want you to stick in that lane. That’s not a way to live. That is a boring way to live. We were all put on this earth to have a multitude of experiences.”
“It's about putting yourself out there and not being afraid to be judged. That's a big thing that holds people back from actually pursuing their dreams. They don't want to be judged. Don't be afraid of judgment. It's okay. People are going to have something to say anyway, whether you dare to dream or not. They might as well judge you while you're trying to pursue something big and ambitious.”
(Photo: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
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