Brea Simone Speaks on the Event Production Industry, The Rising Culture of Connecticut, Creating ‘Now You Know Entertainment’, and More.

There are so many young creatives in the world today and with the overflow of content, it’s hard sometimes to gage in on just one. But, when you recognize that “one” who is actually putting in the work day in and day out, you constantly await their next move. Also, we live in a society where everyone is proud to shout out their stomping grounds and hometown. When most feared to say where they were from, Brea Simone stepped up and let her following know that the emerging culture of Connecticut will not go unrecognized. Combining an outrageous work ethic, love for music and event planning as well as a solid rolodex of connections, Brea took her name and her brand to new heights. Not only has she put the pieces together for herself but she’s also lent a hand in helping out some of Connecticut’s hottest musical talents, up and coming entrepreneurs and visual creatives.

I caught up with Brea to talk about her upbringing in the event and music industry, the misconception of Connecticut, expanding on her talents, Now You Know Entertainment and more.

1 – How did you end up in the music/event industry?

I’ve had a love for music since I was little. I was fortunate enough to grow up on many different genres from my mom and my father. My mom was more of my R&B, Jazz, Hip-Hop influence while my dad contributed to my love of Rap, Rock, Pop, and Freestyle. I’ve always been a helper so I would go on twitter at times and tell people to send me their music. I liked being the girl in school that knew of the new artist before everyone else. Coming home from school and going on nothing but hip-hop blogs to see who’s new and who dropped mixtapes. I always wanted people to go to my MySpace page and ask what song was featured because they liked it lol! There was even this site called Tagged back in the day. I used to want badges from people with the music symbol. Even though it was dumb, I appreciated people that appreciated my ear for dope sh*t. When I was in college I worked as an intern for an Africana Center. I ended up putting together a poetry night and had some local performers share their talents. I packed out the room for the first event I ever did and from there, the rest is history.

2 – Your name/brand has grown a solid reputation throughout the years. Being that you’re from Connecticut and there’s this misperception of Connecticut out there, was it hard to get your name to the masses?

I was fortunate enough to be on platforms like Twitter and Instagram before people really gravitated towards it. It definitely helped me with getting my brand out to the masses. When I initially started I really had no end game like, “okay Brea, you have to get a following on social media.” It just kind of happened with things like #FollowFriday on Twitter and just meeting new people all over. I was shy. My twitter gave me a voice to be myself and interact with people. Then once people found out I was from CT I grabbed their attention more because they 99% of the time knew nothing about it. So I used that to my benefit as much as possible.

3 – Although CT is apart of the tristate, why do you think it gets such a bad reputation as far as new talent goes?

I think what makes it hard for CT is that we are between two major cities, New York and Boston. It’s easy to overlook because we don’t really have anything appealing for tourist to come to see. We don’t have a professional team for basketball or football. We mainly have UCONN and the Casinos. There’s nothing driving individuals to be like, “let’s go to CT today!” And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but it just means people here just have to work 10x harder. I will say I appreciate it because it’s not oversaturated here. People move to the big cities where people are there already trying to make a name for themselves so there’s more competition when you are an outsider. I truly think the CT market is a blessing because of that. No one is coming here to step on toes of the people already creating. That goes for all the smaller, overlooked states. I think if more people got into that mindset, CT would be grateful and thankful and start focusing more on the right things.

4 – You seem to have taken on the title of “Connector of Dots” and have had that title for some time now. What is it about connecting people together that makes you love what you do?

I’m naturally a helper. I put people before myself. And I don’t do it to get recognition from others. I do it because I feel good when someone else is happy. That’s really what it is about to me. If I know that I helped someone achieve something, whether I get the “thank you!” or not… regardless, I know I’m doing what I was put on this earth to do. Some people may think its foolish but I live by what energy you put out into the world, is what you get back tenfold. You may talk down on me behind closed doors and I may know about it, but if something comes my way as an opportunity for someone, I put those feelings aside and focus on the business. That’s just the nature of my title and I live by that.

5 – You’re a woman of a lot of talents and wear a lot of different hats. What exactly is the brand of Brea Simone?

The brand of Brea Simone is an experience. Your brand is built off what you have people walk away with after being exposed to it. I want people to walk away informed if I do a panel. I want people to walk away with a contact if I do a networking event. I want people to walk away saying, “wow, I had an amazing time” after leaving one of my parties or events. I want people to come across dope new talent if I bring attention to it. It’s not a half-assed effort. It’s really hard work and dedication. I want people to feel that. Your brand speaks for you. What you bring to the table as a team or individual speaks to the masses for you. So I want people to walk away happy and satisfied with anything Brea Simone is involved in. And I understand I can’t make everyone happy. That’s a given. But I know if 9 out of 10 people are happy, they will either come back to the next thing or go to their friends and tell them about me. Word of mouth is a powerful
thing. Perception is also a powerful thing. I think since I’ve realized that early I’ve been able to build a brand that will have longevity not only in Connecticut but in other areas as well.

6 – Which one of your talents do you think have helped your career the most? Which one are you going to be investing more into this year?

I think one of the greatest things about me is my ability to connect with many different
individuals all over. I think it’s important to have an extremely diverse Rolodex of contacts. And I don’t mean diverse in regards to just ethnic backgrounds. I mean it in regards to the kind of talent people have, the different skill set one can offer, different people in random locations and more. You never know, you might be stranded in Arizona one day and remember a kid you met at a show in NY who runs all of Phoenix and you followed them on IG. All it takes is that one memory, that one great impression to keep a connection worth years to come. I plan on expanding my network to many different areas. I don’t want to stick to typical locations. I want to reach more.

7 – How has the evolution of social media impacted your career?

Social media has helped my career a lot. People used to refer to me on my college campus as the twitter famous girl because a lot of people did not have a high amount of following in my state like I did lol. Social media has allowed me to connect with people I never thought I would be able to hold a conversation with. I’ve met many great people and established an amazing network off being online. It’s truly amazing when I sit back and reflect on it. I think now little things like IG changing up their posting has messed up a lot of influencers and creative from running their personal brands/businesses on the platform. I’ve recently stopped posting as much on IG. I thought I read that they are switching back and if that is the case I know myself and many other peers of mine will be happy lol. I think for me, yes obviously, me being a woman is an advantage. I can use the fact that I have pictures up on my IG to then message individuals on IG about business and they have a face to match the message. Rather than just sending an email. People get emails all day. If I can make a connection over a social media platform I would
rather do that any day. Social media has allowed me to shoot my shot and make the winning shot at the buzzer. I love it. I can’t wait to continue to evolve with it.

8 – You just launched your brand, Now You Know Entertainment. Elaborate on that.

Now You Know is my baaaby! I started the idea in January of 2017. When I first came up with the name, I just wanted to do artist showcases. Originally it was going to be once a month, then I changed it to quarterly. I then realized I didn’t have the budget to bring an artist from OT to Connecticut every 3 months so it was back to the drawing board. I did an artist showcase in the 1st quarter and then did a panel in the 2nd quarter. The 3rd I took a break because I needed to prepare for A3C where I had moderate a panel and the 4th quarter I ended up doing networking events. I realized that the platform could be a lot bigger than I initially thought it could be. The possibilities were endless with what I wanted my audience to know. My panel was the ultimate thing that ended up showing that to me. So many people came out and just spoke to me once the event
commenced letting me know where they traveled from and how happy they were that I put together the event. That’s when I realized I had something special I needed to keep going with.

9 – In correlation with connecting the dots and bringing people together, what intrigues you about throwing an event?

I love everything in regards to planning an event. I get a rush off of the process. It’s like a high for me. I love brainstorming the idea, calling venues, making contracts, doing the walkthrough, setting up and executing. People may think I’m crazy but I even love it more when little f*ck ups happen and I have to fix it really fast without anyone at the event knowing. For example, on my way to my NYK Panel, I got a flat tire. No one in the event knew it happened until after the event was over and I told people. It’s all about keeping your composure and knowing what to do when things like that happen.

10 – In your opinion, do you feel women in this industry get the credit that they deserve?

Nah, I don’t think they do. But I’m starting to see a lot more women are getting credit as of late and I’m happy for that!!! I think that women always have to try 10x harder. And if you’re a black woman in the industry, that doubles. I hope it can change though. I truly believe women run the world. Women are the brains and masterminds behind a lot of amazing things. Your favorite artist or creator might have a strong team of men behind them but there’s probably really one woman who is solidifying a lot of the decisions behind the individual. But people would never know. I hope that can change in the future.

11 – What does the new wave of entrepreneurs, musicians, creatives, etc from Connecticut look like? You’ve lent a hand in helping a lot of people from CT so what up and comers are you working with now?

Connecticut is so versatile. I don’t think you can put one sound, one look, one vibe or feel to the state as a whole. I think that’s why I love it so much. People aren’t afraid to be themselves here. I think we’re trying to take the nightlife back. A lot of the clubs have shut down so venues are slim to none in the city. A lot of places also don’t want to be involved in hip-hop things anymore. And I’m sure that’s universal. But right now, it’s hitting CT hard and all at once. I think the creators here are determined. They are resilient. They want their voice to be heard. They want to make a mark and get CT the attention it deserves. The musicians are hard working. The promoters are savvy. The hosts are becoming more creative. And the list goes on.

12 – You’ve had the pleasure of collaborating and working with some dope individuals. What has been your favorite project thus far? Why?

Devin Cobbs is the most phenomenal person I have been able to work with. He’s such a great friend and really opens doors for anyone he deems worthy and I’m just so fortunate and blessed to be one of those individuals he gave a shot as well. From my first 40oz bounce in CT back in 2016 to working side by side with him last year at the Meadows festival…I’ve learned so much from him and I can’t thank him enough. He took a chance on me. He spoke on my panel as his first panel event. I was so happy when he said yes. Just because he’s shared so much knowledge with me, I knew he could change people’s lives in that room when he spoke about his journey. I think the most fun I had working with Devin was the 40oz Hamburger Helper event. The vibe was just good, he trusted me to set up on my own, run around and then once all the hectic things calmed down we got to enjoy the event. That’s what it’s about. Getting your responsibilities settled, keeping the sponsor happy and just having fun.

13 – If you could think of one person to collaborate on a party/project with, who would that person be? Why?

I’d love to do something with DussePalooza. That whole team is full of rockstars. They all have their own talents at the end of the day but they really come together to throw a GREAT party for people. It’s not just a party either. It’s an experience. From Peeje’s graphics, to Raven’s photos, to Karl’s recaps, to Chris and Low’s hosting… it is just phenomenal. Kam is amazing and has a wonderful soul. Kaz is awesome and so full of happiness. It would be an honor to work with them one day. *Super fangirl mode*
14 – What can we expect from Brea for the rest of 2018?

Growth. I expect failure as well. I can’t grow if I don’t fail. People may not see it and that’s fine. But when people do see my final product of my vision, I hope they will know it took me a lot to get there. I’m not sure what God has planned for me for the rest of the year but I’m ready. That’s all that really matters to me. I’ve been blessed enough to make it this far. I’m just fortunate enough to wake up and do what I love every day.

Brianni Taylor Speaks on Event Curation, Pros and Cons of Being an Event/Creative Producer, Tips for Creating the Successful Event and More.

Putting together the perfect event isn’t as easy as people may think it is. There are so many different elements and pieces that go into creating an outstanding function and who better to speak on it than one of the best party creators, Brianni Taylor. Brianni, also known to her fans as Brianni T., has been apart of the event production space for quite some time. The young creative has been and still is putting together some of New York’s best art-inspired parties and as of recently, took one of her gatherings to the other side of the country.

I spoke with Brianni about her come up in the event production world, her first ever event, creating social media engagement, her dream collaboration and more in our interview below.

1 – What made you want to get into creating events?

In 2010, my first semester in college, I took a Fashion Show Production class. We produced the school’s biggest event that year. The class brainstormed ideas for a fashion show theme. Luckily, mine was picked. We conceptualized the show, we picked the type of promotion and executed the marketing using guerilla marketing tactics, we held model castings and runway walking boot camp classes, we held fittings and created outfits… there was nothing that we did not do. I loved every bit of it because it felt so fulfilling to see something I’ve worked so hard on come to life and have so many people give great feedback.

2 – What was the first ever event you put together? Were you nervous about it?

The first event I produced solely under Brianni T. Presents was Makeup & Mimosas. It is so different now from what it used to be. The first Makeup & Mimosas was more of a seminar where the makeup artist, Ashley Sophia, showed everyone how to create certain makeup looks on a budget. I was so nervous I could not sleep the night before.

3 – What are the pros and cons of creating an event?

Let’s start with cons, from my personal experience with creating and producing events. The part I hate the most is not being able to secure strategic partnerships OR coming across a company that would be a great match. But, the deadline for sponsorship requests has passed. The highlights of producing/creating events are seeing everything I’ve worked so hard for come to life. I love seeing people enjoy themselves! A lot of people come to my events alone and meet new people, which is what it’s all about to me.

4 – The last few major events you had were related to visual art. Have you always been into visual artwork or was it more so something that made sense for the event you had in mind?

It’s so weird… for months before I curated the first TLOP Exhibit, I was saying “I want to
coordinate an art exhibit”. I had some ideas on what I wanted to do, but it was not music
related. Once Kanye West released The Life Of Pablo, I knew right away that I wanted to curate a Kanye West-inspired exhibit. Naturally, my other favorite musicians, Drake and Rihanna, were to follow.

5 – Not only do you create events and do things behind the scenes but you also host a lot of your own events. Would you prefer to work behind the scenes of the event or hosting? Why?

I actually don’t host my own events. I HATE being a “face” to anything because I am such a behind the scenes person. I usually have Taqee Bond host my events (haha). I am very
comfortable playing the backend roles as long as I get my just due.

6 – You’re responsible for creating a lot of social engagement in order to gain a crowd of people to attend your events. In your opinion, what do you think are some important things that help increase someone’s chances of throwing a successful event? 

That’s a great question which I am still learning the answer to. For ME, it has been knowing WHO my audience was, knowing what they like to talk about, knowing the right time to engage with them online and just creating a natural conversation which basically turns into free promotion. What companies now call “Twitter Chats” is something I’ve been doing for a while. It’s just another form of effective marketing. This doesn’t work for everyone because their support base might not be on Twitter. They need to find which platform works BEST for them and create content and conversations to really get people interested.

7 – What are the steps you take in thinking of a new event to produce?

I usually think of an event I would like to attend or what types of events I haven’t seen OR ones that I have encountered but want to reconstruct them to make them original. From there, I see if I am super passionate about the project and if it’s sticking with me I move forward and execute. There have been multiple ideas I’ve dropped to the side because I did not feel super excited about it and my promise to myself was while I am still in 100% control of my events production company, I will only work on projects that make me happy and fulfilled. To me, there’s nothing worse than working tirelessly on something that you really have no interest in.

8 – It seems like you’re taking your events to new heights. You recently did a Kanye
West-inspired exhibit in L.A. How does it feel to know that you can take your events to a different city and still receive the same positive reaction from people?

It was a really gratifying experience. I was humbled, I was proud of myself and I really
enjoyed myself, which I usually never do because I am so busy. In LA the vibes were MUCH different. Whenever the guests had to leave, they left with no problem. No one really knew me so it wasn’t 101 people stopping me to talk or with issues. I was able to check out all of the art, watch people enjoy themselves and I got to eat…which I NEVER do :-). I was happy but I know whenever I go back to LA I have to be even better.

9 – If you can choose one person in the entertainment or art industry to collaborate with as far as an art exhibit event goes who would that person be? Why?

HMMMMM [me thinking]… If it’s in regards to curating another exhibit with an artist I haven’t used before, I would have so much fun with a Cam’ron exhibit. I imagine everyone attending wearing all pink outfits, taking fly pictures, rapping “Suck It Or Not” or “Horse & Carriage” (haha). I would also be super interested in piecing together an art exhibit with Jay-Z. Who doesn’t want to work with him? Lastly, my dream is to go to New Orleans and produce an exhibit with artwork of Hot Boyz, No Limit and all of the hottest musicians from N.O. I’d die.

10 – What else can the people expect from you for the rest 2018? Do you have any events coming up soon?

April 28th, I will be bringing the Glow In The Dark TLOP Exhibit back to NYC. It was highly requested and I feel like my exhibits have evolved so much since the first exhibit and I want to do Kanye right in NYC. I POTENTIALLY will be heading to Chicago with the Glow In The Dark exhibit. It’s still in the air. I will be planning other events but they will be tied to my other business Van Kleur, which is a co-working space for women of color. We have so many big plans to engage with the large community that are black, brown, and yellow women. I am overly joyous about this project. It is my little baby and in my heart I know it’s going to be huge. Stay tuned ❤