Forget a thousand words — in Brittni Brown’s world an image is an epic poem. The work that the publicist-turned-personal brand strategist — known affectionately around town as “Bee” — does with brands, organizations, and individuals is ultimately about storytelling. At Brown’s The Bee Agency in Detroit, fashion — more expressly, honing a signature style — is central to the soup no matter the client.
Brown, who was named one of the “top 25 African American PR millennials to watch” by HuffPost in 2017, says she’s very hands-on with her clients. Think mood boards, makeup consultations, stylist pairings, and shopping trips. But ultimately, “I’m never going to take someone out of their style,” she says.
You’ll know her by her Mia Farrow-esque pixie cut. And you’re likely to spot her in a pair of leopard-print glasses and a blazer in some juicy, dopamine-inducing color paired with jeans. She also loves a smartly styled graphic tee. Basically, Brown is the epitome of power dressing for the millennial woman and, like other 20- and 30-something professionals, is unbothered by passe ideas that say that femininity and strength must compete and that fashion is frivolous.
“If I’m showing up to do a certain job, I’m gonna do it and I’m gonna look fly,” she says.
When the Romulus native was a broke college student at Eastern Michigan University (where she founded the school’s Fashion Week) going on job interviews, she knew she had to look the part, even if she was working with a barely-there budget. And so, she’d go treasure hunting at thrift stores and consignment shops.
“I don’t think it’s how much you spend on something that defines your style. It’s the effort, it’s the thought, the creativity that goes into it that sets you apart from anyone else.”
The range of shops Brown frequents may have broadened, but that spirit of piecing together a look and locking in one’s own unique brand continues.
Here, Brown — whose clients have been featured in Essence, on the Today show, and in other national media outlets — shares more about what inspires her, what sets her off, and the staples that should be in every professional woman’s wardrobe.
The people I credit most for my introduction to style are …
My mom and my dad. I remember when I was younger, my mom would always want to put me in lace, and I was like, “I hate this. Why are you doing this?” It didn’t make sense to me then, but now it does. [It was about] femininity and class. … My dad is also a dresser. I did not see my dad in a pair of jeans until I was [in my] early 30s.
When I get dressed in the morning, I want to feel …
I love clothes because …
It sets the tone in how you operate throughout the day.
One trend I’d like to see come back around:
I am on the hunt for Guess jeans. Now, I know I can get some Guess jeans, but you remember the jean outfits we used to wear with the jacket and the colors, like pastel colors? I’m on the hunt to find that.
My fashion pet peeve is …
When people tell you you can’t wear white after Labor Day.
Three staples that should be in every professional woman’s closet are …
A solid black dress, a pair of pumps that make you feel like “I’m the baddest thing walking” (ones that make you feel powerful, sexy, bold), and the third piece, something that shimmers.
What I draw inspiration from:
One of my favorite movies is Boomerang, so I’m really stuck in the early ’90s; that’s my favorite era of fashion. … That was my first example of seeing women who looked like me just dressing top to bottom on screen. The ’90s and the Harlem Renaissance, those are two of my favorite eras. … I take some style inspiration from Kim Kardashian — very sleek, chic, and minimalist — Zendaya, and Teyana Taylor.