I met Erica Dias, 33, the CEO of the B Firm PR, author of Faith It, Until You Make It, and owner of Vintage and More 101 Boutique, at the Worthy Women Summit at Galvanize in San Francisco on March 15, 2017.
Erica blew me away with her tales of being a public relations entrepreneur, including representing a NASCAR champion at a competition where she was the only Black woman among thousands of people. She kindly gifted me with a copy of her book of inspiring quotes, Faith It Til You Make It, and agreed to let me interview her.
Karen: Tell me about your journey to entrepreneurship.
Erica: I grew up in the Bay Area and I’ve always been an entrepreneur- I received an allowance as a kid but I knew that it wasn’t enough for me, I started creating my own opportunities. I baked oatmeal cookies and sold them door to door, babysat, and braided hair from the age of 13. My mom bought me business cards at Staples with my name in big red letters and my pager number.
From then I learned to create more for myself, freelancing as a wardrobe stylist, and doing hair and makeup while still in high school. I loved the work of a celebrity stylist, June Ambrose, and one day I called her and introduced myself and asked for a phone internship. She gave me guidance over the phone, advice on what to do while I was still in high school.
I followed every word of her advice. By the time I graduated high school, I had a whole portfolio and was styling commercials for major companies and films. I had my own website, and I just made it happen. I worked all throughout college, majoring in fashion merchandising at City College and went to FIT in NYC. I put positive quotes and pictures of June Ambrose on my vision board. Later I worked for June on Missy Elliot’s music video “I’m really really hot.”
I cultivated connections to media- my sister was excelling in PR and marketing for her clients. I freelanced for other PR people when I had time. At one point, I worked on a TV show for something I did not believe in and I felt horrible, I called my sister and said “we have to start our own business, I want to work for women who need recognition. I want to help women and nonprofits and fashion brands take it to the next level.”
My sister built our website and registered our business and I focused on business development. The B Firm PR was born. Our dad has been instrumental in our lives so we named our firm after him, Brandle. Our mom’s side is entrepreneurial too.
Karen: What inspired you to write Faith It Until You Make It?
Erica: When I moved to Atlanta about seven years ago it was a totally different culture for me, very driven by reality TV. I walked on a set and a girl said to me “you have to fake it until you make it” and I said “no, I don’t, I have to Faith It Until I Make It.”
To me, “Faith It Until You Make It” expresses my values: it’s really important to me to be spiritually sane, peaceful, have inner peace, be kind to others. I wrote the quote “Faith It Until You Make It” everywhere, in my journals and vision boards.
I decided to write the book in July 2016. I was securing book deals for other clients and it occurred to me, hey, it would be great if I wrote a book! I asked an executive with November Media- and she said “yes, I’m going to give you a book deal.” I wrote my favorite quotes and asked my friends and family to contribute theirs.
I wanted to have my book come out on my birthday, and I made it happen!
Karen: How have you grown your network in a new market?
Erica: I host a monthly luncheon, Erica’s Table of 20. I select 20 people to attend and honor and highlight guest speakers, who open up and share their real stories. We network and laugh and cry and eat and drink- we are very open and honest we each other. This month I am hosting the 23rd event.
Karen: What advice would you give a younger person, or someone who is feeling stuck?
Erica: Start by starting- never give up- keep going and be patient. I am not a churchy person but I am a faith based person, if prayer becomes a habit, success will become your lifestyle.
Karen Fleshman is a Racial Equity Trainer and Government Accountability Advocate. Her mission is to build and support a community of people committed to love, learning, accountability, and action on race in America.www.karenfleshman.com @fleshmankaren