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Becoming Branded By Bernel

I’ve been dreaming of this for a LOOOOONG time, and writing this post today is giving me the goosebumps!! I can’t believe it’s finally here! 😭 😍 This episode dives into who I am currently as a branding and web designer in Charlotte North Carolina, it also tells you more about how I got here and what I have in store for you guy’s on the very first season of the Branded By Bernel podcast! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!!!

The Branded by Bernel Podcast is brought to you by Bernel Westbrook, lead designer and founder of Branded by Bernel, a design studio dedicated to building strong brands and Showit websites for creative entrepreneurs.

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Review the Transcript:

Hey, hi. Welcome to the Branded by Bernel podcast. I’m your host, Bernel. You may know me as the branding and web designer who obsesses over the details so you don’t have to. We all desire to be great at what we do. Although once we get there, no one seems to talk about the messy middle. This motivated me to set the table and invite industry peers over to share stories about living and working in the creative world. So grab the OJ and champagne, pull up a chair, join the creative community and be prepared to build a brand you fall in love with. This is the Branded by Bernel podcast.

Hey, hi, I am your host Bernel, a brand and web designer located in Charlotte, North Carolina. Thank you so much for joining me on my very first podcast episode. Oh my goodness, that’s so crazy to say out loud, my very first podcast episode. Anyway, to tell you a little bit about who I am and what I do. I have been in business for five years. That’s also crazy to say out loud. A lot has changed in the last five years, I have served over 100 creative entrepreneurs from various industries. I have worked published in mana Lucci and essence magazines. I’ve been a featured guest on several podcasts, spoke at conferences, and webinars last year. And the biggest goal that I achieved in 2020 was becoming a showit web design partner. So let’s talk about how I got here. Let’s just rewind to the beginning.

My parents facilitated a pretty creative household. So I would say I’ve always been artsy, during the summer, violin lessons, piano lessons ballet, you name it, my parents had me signed up for it. However, I didn’t start taking formal art lessons until high school. And that is where I fell in love with creating. Needless to say, I got to my senior year of high school and guidance counselors, and my parents and even close friends were like, okay, drawing and painting has been fun. But you need to find a real job, air quotes there. As a millennial, you’re taught to go out and get a formal job. The idea of success is very much in a box, you know, everybody says that there are clear steps you need to take in order to get a job that will pay your bills. And yes, paying your bills is important, but also finding something that you love. So I chose web development as my major hoping that there would be some creativity there. I quickly realized I was wrong. Web development is not a creative field.

You code all day long. It’s very math based very technical. And I really felt like that creative outlet for me was missing. And I started looking for, you know, like a way to marry the two loves my love of art, plus the technical skills that my degree had enabled me. And this led me to web design. Of course, I realized I needed to get my name out there. If I was really going to serve people as a web designer. Once I received my web development degree, I quickly realized that as a 21 year old black girl in technology, fitting into corporate really was not going to be an option for me, as a person with a huge personality fitting, it had never really been a struggle. But it was clear to me that my journey was going to be defined with a feeling of loneliness and being uncomfortable. So I turned to blogging, I created a blog, which turned into a graphic design company, which spiraled into a stationery company. I know it’s kind of crazy, which finally brought me full circle to branding and web design. But that in itself came with it a whole new set of girl boss expectations that I had no idea what I was doing.

Like so many of you guys at home, I am a type A personality. So I’m a perfectionist, I like to think of myself as a recovering perfectionist. So there were just so many new hurdles that were thrown my way. And I was trying to figure out how to navigate all of this while also being 21. And not knowing anybody else who had started a business from the ground up. So it was a pretty lonely place. There were a couple of defining moments in my business, though, that really took it from, hey, I’m a freelancer who creates logos to hey, I run a company. Funny enough, both of those defining moments were in coffee shops. I don’t know if that’s an indicator of why now I love brunch behavior. But the first defining moment was during my senior year I was working at Starbucks super early in the morning I had to get there at like 4:30am and I would see the same clients almost every day or same customers. And so one of my customers came up to me and we were talking. And I took a deep breath. And I decided, okay, I want to tell her that I offer graphic design services. Because at this point, I had created a few logos, and business cards for friends and family, and people were beginning to pay me.

So I was getting kind of excited, getting a little confidence there. And I hand this woman her drink. And I tell her like, Hey, I know that you have a business. And if you ever need business cards or a logo, let me know. And she said, Oh, that’s great. Well, what’s the name of your business? Crickets? Yep, I did not have a business name. I was sitting there like, Oh, my goodness, this woman needs to know the name of my business. I have a business. Wait a minute, no, I just make logos what is going on? So I told her, I was completely honest and transparent. And I said, Well, I don’t really have a business name or business cards. And she looked at me, it was like, you probably should do that. And I was out went home. And I was like, Yes, I need a business name. Which led me to stiletto footprints. I’m a woman making an impact in the technology world. And that eventually evolved into brandy Barbara. Now I wanted a name that truly represented who I was, and what I hoped to give to other people, which was feeling confident in your brand. So what better way than putting my name in it?

So that’s how the business began. And then the second impactful coffee shop moment, a second aha moment, if you say was years later, my business had grown. We’re in 2019 stationery had become the most profitable service that I offered, although my heart was more so into branding stationery was what was paying the bills. And so I’m sitting there on my computer, and someone comes up to me, and they say, Hey, are you Brunel? Once again, I’m thinking to myself, Oh, my goodness, this is it. I’ve made it. Someone recognizes me for having a business like so I have all these internal butterflies. And I look up and I smile. And I say yes, I’m Brunel. I own brandy Barbara. And she says, Yeah, you’re the stationery girl. Oh, my goodness, like, devastated. I was devastated when she said that, because I really did not want to be known as the stationery girl. But why didn’t she know me as a stationery girl and not the branding and web design girl that was on me. That’s what I talked about on social media stationery.

That’s what I showed in my portfolio. That’s the networking events I went to we’re all in the wedding industry. So it was clear that my time and attention went into stationery. That was the service that became profitable. That’s what I became known for. But that was really a pivot point for me, because I realized that if I use that same amount of energy, and time and attentiveness, and my skill set for branding and web design, I could be just as well known for something I truly loved doing. So that was a turning point in my business. And that’s what I did. I went on my website, I changed my services. I made the focal point of my social media, branding and web design. I had some really awesome close friends who were girl bosses who came to me and said, Hey, bro, what do you do? Like your Instagram is so bomb, but I have no idea what you do. And so I realized that I had to get very clear and intentional about what I was going to offer in my industry. But I still felt like something was missing.

I still felt like I was serving my clients in the best way I knew possible. I love my business, my business has been growing, I was able to check off every goal on my 2020 goal list. Which if you’re listening to this, right now, you know how big of a feat that was, if you’re listening to this in the future, just a little recap. 2020 was that ridiculously crazy year where the world turned upside down? That’s all I’m gonna say about that. So I was sitting there thinking something’s missing, there has to be a way that I can continue serving my clients that brings joy to me. And I realized from talking to several other business owners, that we need more people following their passion, like we really need that we need more people who lean into what they’re good at, and who aren’t scared to show that to the world. And part of that comes from community.

So that brings us to what we’re doing in 2021. And what to expect from this podcast. A huge part of my story of entrepreneurship was the feeling of not belonging. We’ve already talked about how I didn’t really feel like I belonged in my degree. I didn’t really feel like I belonged in the corporate world that my degree had prepared me for. Then even after building my business from the ground up and getting it to a profitable state. I didn’t feel like I belonged in the stationery community. So this led me to looking for a community where I really fit in where I felt like my voice mattered where I felt like they understood the process of building from the ground up, I had to sit with some really big questions where my skills valuable. Did my voice matter in a sea of already successful entrepreneurs, that I really have what it took to inspire other people, little old me from North Carolina, in my 20s.

Did I really have what it took? We’re almost five years later and over 100 clients later, and I’m still figuring out the answers to those questions. I by no means have all the answers, but you better believe I’m trying to find them. one thing has remained constant. As my business has expanded, I’ve had to embrace uncomfortable growth. And I know that no matter what phase you are in, in your business, if you’re listening to this at home, you’ve probably had to face uncomfortable growth as well. And if you have not had to face it, guess what? You probably will, in the coming future, face uncomfortable growth. So that’s what the podcast is for. I invite IT industry leaders in a variety of different business industries, to come and to sit at my table for brunch style conversations, where we discuss the journey to becoming who we are.

So often, I listen to podcasts, I read Facebook groups, I read blogs, especially when I was first getting started where the story went something like this. I didn’t know how I was going to pay my bills, because I was laid off. And I had this great idea. And I had a couple of sleepless nights, and then boom, now I have a six figure business. Yeah, you’ve probably heard that too, right? And I’m sitting there like, so how would you get from your credit card was maxed out to a six figure business. So many people leave out the messy middle. But that’s where we’re gonna dive in the messy middle, the uncomfortable growth, the journey to really who you’re going to be. Each story of my podcast, guests will highlight the not so linear journey to success, it is not point A to B, it’s point A to D to F back to a a little bit to see. And then maybe maybe you hit the attainable point z.

And so we will have people from the beauty industry from branding industry, real estate workers, photographers, I know I have a lot of people that I loved working with in the wedding community, and they were so vastly affected by 2020 that we’re going to hear some of their stories on here too. And some of the guests will be in overlapping industries. But their journeys are so different because they are different as people and they are at different points in their businesses, so everyone has so much value that they can share. Think of this as brunch with your business besties. We’re going to focus on those various paths that the entrepreneurs have had to navigate. We’re also going to focus on how they can help you. I want you to walk away with actionable steps, you will hear my favorite part of the podcast and every single episode is it’s time to grab your journal for your three actionable steps. I want you to not only take this information and go and build a brand that you love. But I also want you to take a little bit of this tell it like it is honesty and feel that confidence and that motivation to go tell your story in the most authentic way possible. Give yourself permission to be creative and give yourself permission to grow.

So grab the OJ and champagne, pull up a chair, join the creative community and be prepared to build a brand you fall in love with. This is the new branded by Bernel podcast. Wow, I can’t believe I really just finished my first episode. Thank you so much for showing up to my little corner of the internet. But before you leave, can I ask you a favor? I would love to hear your thoughts on the show. So please, please subscribe, leave a review and share what you learned with friends. That’s gonna be key to me growing my little community. If you enjoyed this, I love to hear from you. Feel free to personally email me my email is Also, I’m a firm believer that some of the best things in life are freebies. So don’t forget to head over to to check out our free branding goodies, the show notes and more educational resources

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