Figure out how to provide the best solution.
Build and develop milestones and metrics.
Productize your offering
As part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jae Joseph & Brianna Wise.
Jae Joseph is a cultural producer and entrepreneur, working in visual arts, film and multidisciplinary platforms. He connects the traditional and experimental art worlds through art advising, brand collaboration, events and strategic communication. Joseph commits to representing artists and clients honorably and honestly, refining but not replacing their messages. He caters to private sector clients in entertainment, fashion, publishing and real estate.
Joseph has been recognized by the Ford Foundation, American Express Minority Corporate Counsel and the Parsons School of Design | The New School.
Brianna Wise is an author, mentor, creative director, brand strategist and stylist with expertise in the fashion, entertainment and beauty industries. She nurtures visions from creative concept through business development, taking a brand full circle before it goes to market. Wise acts as a creative director and consultant, listening and problem-solving to enhance a business or brand.
Wise’s creative collaborations have been featured among professional performers and athletes working with global companies including SONY, BET, NYFW, Under Armour, Live Nation, Spotify, Warner Brothers, AfroPunk, Paper magazine and CBS.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
The beauty and wellness industries have been inaccessible to Black and LatinX entrepreneurs. Over the last several decades, we have consistently showcased our ability to influence the spending market through our financial contributions as consumers, but remain overlooked in our representation as business leaders across these industries.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
BAO’s Inc. goal is to disrupt the status quo of the business industry and develop a platform and space for businesses to thrive as well as empower consumers with their purchasing power to invest in Black and LatinX businesses. The beauty and wellness industries have been inaccessible to Black and LatinX entrepreneurs that exist. Through BAO’s INC. vision, they aim to create a cultural shift in the health industry to expand product lines in the digital health and wellness space to cater specifically to the Black and LatinX communities and help emphasize efforts to focus on health equity for a marginalized ethnic group that continually rank as one of the lowest on the social determinants of health scale. In terms of the beauty industry, BAO Inc. seeks to mentor beauty brands that embrace the physical attributes of Black and LatinX people (e.g. skin tones, hair texture) that “makes us feel that we matter and are cared for and supported by our own,” explains co-founder Brianna Wise. BAO INC. has two current accelerator participants and one graduate, with 10 to 15 inquiries a week from businesses seeking to join the community.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When we first started out we had planned this huge robust launch event with all the bells and whistles and the event garnered sponsorship from a major brand. We hadn’t even finalized our business plan, infrastructure, or financial projections. We were so excited to align ourselves with brands and well-known personalities that would attend the launch. The biggest lesson we learned was to wait for the cake the bake then you put the icing on it. We would have wasted time, energy, and other resources that are vital to bootstrapping a startup.
We all need a little help along the journey. Who has been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
Our mentors range from a number of notables in business, entertainment, fashion, art and tech. We were building out our first pitch deck and our business model, which most startups pivot as some point. We have a group of financial and marketing advisors that overlook all of our documents and one in particular pointed out our weak spots and how we could look stronger to vc’s and potential investors. These are just some of the things we have and continuously as learning along the way.
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
If you are familiar with Edward Marx he stated, “If I am not upsetting the proverbial apple cart, then I am adding little value. By merely maintaining what has been done in the past, I will bring about little if any gain. Don’t misunderstand. This is not about stirring the pot for the sake of stirring the pot. Disruptive leadership must be purposeful and backed by a vision.”
That’s what BAO is accomplishing, we are challenging the norm. We are showing the consumer markets within culture has sustainable buying power by creating systems of wealth in their own communities.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
1. Figure out how to provide the best solution.
2. Build and develop milestones and metrics.
3. Productize your offering
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
Through a synergistic approach, we’ve joined forces with Empower Us Agency. In a coalition that aims to disrupt the business industry to cultivate and build a pathway of support for Black entrepreneurship. As more and more large corporations announce commitments that aim to mitigate the lack of financial and social capital for Black businesses, now is the moment to join Empower Us Agency and the Black Apothecary Office on their respective missions to shatter the current ecosystem and rewrite the narrative of what entrepreneurs look like, creating access to opportunities to build Black generational wealth. Encouraging the consumer in these communities to not only buy black but build black.
Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?
“You are a badass” by Jen Sincero, it’s about how to stop doubting your greatness and start living an awesome life. Sometimes in starting something new you second guess your capabilities, especially if it’s new territory. There are days where you feel on top of the world and some days where you are like “What am I doing?” We have to identify those self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors and don’t let them get in the way of our goals and dreams.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Slowly is the fastest way to get to where you want to be” — Andre De Shields (Tony Award Winner)
This lesson rings true for many of us who are creatives or entrepreneurs.
We live in a world where everything is powered by social media and technology so we are constantly bombarded with images of advancement and progress, this can sometimes make one feel you aren’t doing enough or that you may be doing something wrong. In order to create a life that you truly love, we have to continue to put in the work yet also enjoy the present moment we are in.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
My movement would be to build The Black Apothecary Office. Building a space where we can change the landscape of identity and narrative of people of color in beauty, wellness, and health, and telemedicine.
How can our readers follow you online?
Readers can follow us here
Founder: Jae Joseph @jaejoseph
CEO/Co-founder Brianna Wise @briwisestyle
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!