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Miss Diddy is a staple in Los Angeles. With 161,000 followers on Instagram alone, her bio reads “lifestyle specialist,” which encompasses many different facets. For one, she’s the CEO, president, and boss of her own company called The Brand Group LA, which focuses on marketing expertise, events, and brand positioning.
The L.A. native hails from humble beginnings and worked hard to become one of the first female promoters in the Hollywood club scene. Her first foot in the door includes doing promotions for the West Coast tier of Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music. In fact, the businesswoman was the lead in Kanye West’s “The New Workout Plan” back in 2009, as well as his “Spaceships” visual.
Miss Diddy works around the clock like a true entrepreneur. Beyond that, she’s a role model who shows youths that they, too, can level up and become bosses one day.
In honor of Women’s History Month, REVOLT caught up with the mogul to discuss the female figures she looks up to, her relationship with Compton Mayor Aja Brown, starting her own businesses, and more. Read below.
Being from Compton, what was your household like growing up?
Well, I actually spent my early years in Inglewood prior to my mother moving us to Compton when I was about 10 years old. So, I was raised in Compton, built my friendships in Compton, learned who I would be in that beautiful city. It gave me a sense of pride. In Los Angeles, we’re a gang culture. So, we’re naturally territorial. When we’re from somewhere, we scream it (laughs). There’s good and bad in all areas, and all parts of the world, but Compton taught me to be vigilant, to be aware, to be diligent and proud. I love my city. I love everyone who comes from there and everything that it represents. It represents resilient people.
You’re close to Mayor Aja Brown. What do you admire about her? How were you guys able to build a relationship?
What I admire most is that she’s strong and focused. She has a strong posture. She means what she says, she says what she means. You can see the intensity in her eyes and in her face. It’s something to cheer for, not even her being a woman, but just being a person with her type of strength. Nowadays, people are so fickle and indecisive. There’s something about a person who can make decisive decisions and stand on them. She’s the first mayor I’ve seen in Compton that has a real heart for the people, the community and the future of the city. There’s things we’re putting in place now that will positively affect the city for the next 100 years, literally. I’ve never seen a mayor of a city have the vision that she has. These are people I choose to be in business with.
Who are some female figures you look up to?
For me, it wasn’t so much women in entertainment as much as it was the women who molded me to be the woman I am today. My aunt, my mother, my godmothers. They’re who built my soul and that’s what carries you through life. Of course, you have your Beyoncés and Oprahs, they’re undeniable figures and role models in our culture. Also Mona Scott-Young.
What are your favorite women’s empowerment songs?
I love “I’m A Survivor” by Destiny’s Child. It seems like it’d be a cliche one, but it’s not. It’s real, there’s strength in that. Of course, I love Beyoncé’s “Formation.” She says, “I just might be a black Bill Gates in the making.” The thought that that’s the truth. It’s not a foreign concept. No, we really are. For her to voice that and say that, it puts a lot of women in a headspace to think, “Oh shoot, I’m not crazy for thinking this radical. I’m not crazy for believing in something that looks intangible.”
What does it mean to be a female entrepreneur?
You have a level of responsibility you have to withhold. “Where much is given and much is required.” It’s not for everybody. I don’t preach the gospel of “everyone should be an entrepreneur!” I don’t believe in that because it’s tough. There’s a lot of responsibility and accountability. There’s things I may want to do and I can’t because I know there’s people looking at me and that means more to me than my own selfish desires to do whatever.
Leadership is something that’s not talked about as much as it should be. If you’re going to be a female entrepreneur, you’re a leader. That means more than talking about “you’re a boss” and making money. Anybody can do that. But, are you a good leader? Are you leading your people? Are you teaching them something? Whether it’s hard lessons, whether it’s easy lessons. Whether it’s lessons you’re still trying to learn while you’re teaching them. It means leadership and responsibility, taking that role seriously and protecting, so the leaders who are birthed from what you’ve done in life have an actual fighting chance.
How were you able to start your own business?
I ask God for strategy. No one taught me any of the ropes. It’s me knowing that God called me to do something. I had to follow what He told me to do, and it looked like this. No one sat me down and said, “You need to be an entrepreneur.” But, it made sense to do so. My family, they did great. My older brother is an entrepreneur, he’s in real estate. He’s a great entrepreneur I saw. He’s one of the first in my family to buy houses and graduate college in our generation. He really put an emphasis on those types of things. However, entrepreneurship and me going in the direction I went was me following what God told me to do.
What’s the premise of The Brand Group LA? How long have you had this company?
The Brand Group agency I’ve had for some years now. I’ve been in the business for 15 years, then I transitioned into “hey, I should probably start a company” because I’m never going to really get the credit I deserve for certain things I’m doing, which people typically don’t. A lot of what I do ends up being a thankless job, but I get to create and see things come to fruition.
The premise of my company is marketing and genius minds. You may come to me and say, “I have this great thing, I don’t know how to market it” or “I don’t know how to get it to the masses, how people will pay attention to it.” Alright well, let’s geniusly think about a creative way to introduce it to people. It’s all marketing-based. Of course, there’s different umbrellas and layers in my company, but marketing for the most part.
As a woman with a strong presence in Los Angeles, how are you able to be a role model?
I believe in being who you are. I’m exactly who I am and always been. I’ve evolved as an adult, as a person, as a woman, as an entrepreneur. That level of responsibility is “be who you are!” Some people rock with it and some won’t, it’s all good. This is the world and we’re made up of different types of human beings — as long as you’re being who you are to the best of your ability, and also figuring out who that is! Figuring out who you are.
Asking God, what’s He asking of you? What’s your whole purpose in life? It works. I believe in hard work. Instagram plays a part in people thinking you don’t have to work as hard as you need to. I was a promoter when the internet wasn’t around. There was no Instagram! I had to pass out flyers. That’s the era I come from, so I understand hard work more than anything else. If you work hard and build it, they’ll come.
What does it mean to be a “lifestyle specialist”?
Lifestyle specialist came from Kenny Burns. I don’t care what anybody says, he introduced the concept of lifestyle specialist. Period! He has a lot to do with my career. He introduced the lifestyle component to marketing. It’s bigger than “we’re going to tell people to drink this alcohol. We’re going to tell the people to wear this shirt.” No, what’s the cool factor in this? Why are people wanting to do it because you do it. That’s lifestyle, not everybody has that. That’s something very special. It’s unique.
Just because you wore it, doesn’t mean anybody cares to wear it. What’s the lifestyle? What’s the cool component? I say lifestyle specialist because it doesn’t come by way of “hey, I’m cool, pay attention.” You have to live that type of life. People have to believe that. Kenny Burns, lifestyle specialist for sure. He’s been in the music business for over 20 years. He introduced a lot of the brand ambassador marketing. He’s one of the first black men to have a campaign with Grey Goose. He’s just dope.
Can you speak on you and Nipsey Hussle’s relationship?
I don’t speak about that out of respect. But, what I will say, he’s everything that we needed to see as a culture. Of course I have a personal relationship. He’s my brother to me from afar and from in. He’s exactly who he was. He still is because in my brain, I try to live like he’s still here to the best of my ability. I thanked him because it’s important to tell our people what they’re doing.
When you’re close to people, you forget to do that because you’re close to the situation. You don’t say, “Yo, you’re really doing something that’s making a change for all of us.” He’s the first in our generation to really add in the idea of community in this entertainment space and everything we’re doing. To never forget the community! He drove that home to us. He never left his community. He was there and that’s why he has the outpour that he has. It’s a real genuine love.
I get my hair done across the street from the shop (The Marathon store), I’d pull through on a weekend and see him. “What’s up Nip? What’s up, bro?” “Alright sis.” He was with his people. He introduced the idea in our generation that community is everything in what we’re doing. That’ll forever live on because of what he introduced.
Talk about the Toast to Young Hollywood you do every year during the BET Awards week.
Toast to Young Holly! I’ve done it for six years. It’s been so amazing. The idea was to bridge the gap of the generation prior and the new generation because I come from both. I knew the Kenny Burns’, the Steve Rifkinds, now you have your Cortez Bryants. It was important to give homage to people who I felt had a hand in my career, who people might not say, “Hey, thank you.”
This was before everyone was doing honoring ceremonies. Nobody was doing this before but the big award shows on television. So, many things I’ve done that people would never know. I wanted to create a room where I could sing from the mountain tops, “I appreciate you!” To all the honorees that I choose. Toast to Young Hollywood is evolving because there’s so many people doing the concept now. We’ve had such amazing honorees: Daymond John, Lauren London, Kevin Frazier, Sarunas Jackson, Mona Scott-Young, Baron Davis, Russell Simons, John Wall, Cortez Bryant, Ryan Press, Angie N., D. Shipp Jr., Mayor Aja Brown, Director X, Big Boy, the list goes on. So, many people I’ve honored that’s a part of this Toast to Young Hollywood brand, I’m really proud of what it’s become.
Talk about getting into CBD business.
What I knew is that CBD was helping people for sure. I knew it in my family. I wanted to figure out how I could be part of that health component. I started with the company TLC. You see a lot of girls put up the whole Nutra Burst and all that, but it’s really the health component I was attracted to. CBD and the tea, the Nutra Burst multivitamin shot. I was using the product on the low. I didn’t tell anybody because you know I’m not like “look at this!” on Instagram.
I wanted to use it and see, did I believe in the product? Did I love it? I found that I trust it, I love it. It made a difference in my energy because I have low iron. I realized shoot, this is really working! I’m able to focus more. I’m not as tired. I got into the business and I’m telling people, “Listen, get in and sign up with me. Let’s do this” because we can have a healthy world. Especially during this time, we have to build our immune systems.
How are you adapting to Coronavirus?
For me, I’m so grateful to understand God, to love God and to know God. It doesn’t mean it’s not concerning. You know when they say “fear God”? It’s the idea that fear is like in awe, to be in awe of God. To fear the reverence of God. You have to be careful you’re not fearing something in that same light. If I fear this thing, I’m going to give that same type of awe to this thing. I have to believe that God’s still on his throne. Whatever’s happening, He’ll do what needs to be done.
People have to understand that you have to save money. You have to! I also believe you have to be taught to save money. People think “you save money to buy a car or to buy a house.” No, save money always. It’s a lifestyle. I have accounts I don’t touch at all. I have people I take care of. God-willing, everything will be handled and I can drift the year away. But, that doesn’t mean the same for somebody else because someone didn’t teach or tell them to save. For me, it’s a time of alright, what am I creating? What am I figuring out? What’s this evolution? What’s this next moment? That’s where people should be so that our creative energy can almost warp the world back to where it used to be. We’re the ones who’re going to build the economy back up, not the big businesses.
Anything you want to let us know?
Everybody should be listening to what we should be doing during this time. We should be thinking about our next steps. I want people to create and believe, that’s it. Pray it’ll all work its way through. Encourage young entrepreneurs to keep pushing. We got to the place that we are in entrepreneurship by weathering hard times. You don’t become a successful entrepreneur without weathering difficult times. So, suffer well and keep your mind.