Starting a business can be hard…SUPER hard. Add a friend into the equation and things get even more complicated! How do you juggle the division of work and finance, all while keeping your friendship as the priority?! Here to chat with us about turning dreams into reality and making the ultimate business move with your bestie are Brooke White and Summer Bellessa, the creative masterminds behind The Girls with Glasses. These two innovative entrepreneurs are incredibly inspiring and we have no idea how they juggle it all! You may remember being stunned by Brooke White’s amazing voice on American Idol (she finished top five…wow!!) or seeing Summer’s beautiful face amidst her many modeling campaigns, spanning over 15 years, with Clairol, Target and Glamour…just to name a few! These go-getter girls truly embody the ultimate Get It Girl here at BFFF and we can’t wait for you to read their story below!
Your backgrounds are so different. What are some of your favorite parts of working together and how do you compromise on ideas, topics and business ventures with each of your different viewpoints?
S: I don’t feel like we usually need to make compromises with each other. We both throw out our crazy ideas and try to make them work. Time, energy, and money is what we usually have to compromise around. Brooke and I are both optimists with crazy ideas, which we love to try and accomplish. It’s usually a challenge, and it usually works out, and when it doesn’t we are able to laugh about it.
B: Agreed! I love working with Summer because she completely slays in all the areas that I stink at. I learn a lot from her, and her energy and ability to accomplish just about any task simultaneously pushes me and wears me out. We have a pretty complimentary partnership and while we are both passionate about our ideas, we are also pretty open and I think we can attribute our longevity.
Tell us a little bit about how you met and how you came up with the idea for Girls with Glasses?
S: We met on MySpace and were supporters of each other’s work (Brooke’s music and Summer’s clothing line, and then Fashion Magazine, ELIZA). We ended up working together because we wanted to create an environment that allowed us to be the types of moms that we wanted, while still leading and expressing our creative visions.
B: After idol, I had been on tour and made a record, started my own indie label and told my husband that I wanted Summer to be a part of it. Even though she had no experience in the industry, I knew she was a go-getter. It never panned out and she never joined the ranks on my label. Fast forward to a year later when I got a strong feeling that I had to “call Summer Bellessa right now.” I did, and she had happened to just get back to Los Angeles from a long summer in Florida, and was actually planning on moving to Arizona that night. We decided to meet for breakfast at IHOP. We both were wearing our glasses that day, and it was literally right in front of our eyes, so that’s when “the girls with glasses show” was born.
What advice do you have for Get it Girls who are looking for a business partner? What tips do you have when it comes to going into business with a friend?
S: First, think twice. The odds are against you, and we’ve heard a lot of horror stories of wrecked friendships and struggling businesses. BUT, once you’ve thought about it, and if you still want to move forward, I would say to start with picking someone that has the same goals as you, similar style, and complimentary talents. Then I would iron out the financial sides to the business. A contract makes sure you’re on the same page, and it can be hard to communicate your expectations without it. You also have to be okay with working more than your partner, sometimes for the same amount of money. Everything can’t always be “fair.” And remember that there’s no room for competition or jealousy in a partnership. If you feel those emotions sneaking in, keep them in check and remember why you started to work together in the first place.
B: I don’t think I could have said it better. It is very risky to start a business with a friend. I also think what worked for Summer and I is that we developed our friendship through creating this little show of ours. We weren’t BFF’s when we started but we respected each other and had a complimentary vision and energy that has helped us grow into both great friends and business partners. And I won’t overlook that it really felt inspired! Trust your gut. I’d say if you have any bad feelings or reservations, don’t do it! Lastly, to be in a partnership you can’t be an egomaniac. You have to really let go of doing things your way to do what’s best for everyone involved. There will be bumps in the road and how you deal with them together will make or break your partnership.
How do you balance the videos and posts for Girls With Glasses with your other day jobs?
S: In the last two years, The Girls With Glasses has taken up most of our time. Brooke put out an amazing charity album for O.U.R., and we both act and do other creative things on the side, but for the most part it’s GWG all the time. Brooke has a three-year old daughter and I have two toddler boys, so that is our other day job and it keeps us just as busy.
B: Oh man, I don’t. Does balance exist? If it does, I’m not sure I’ve found it! But I will say for me, HELP is crucial. Get a babysitter, forget multitasking and try to do one thing at a time. You also have to accept that the life of a passionate creative working mom is a super crazy, chaotic one, so embrace it! Do your best.
What advice do you have for Get It Girls that are passionate in more than just one thing, i.e music, lifestyle blogs, fashion etc.?
S: The more you can focus, the easier it is to make money…or so they tell us over and over. We enjoy a lot of things, so we tend to do a lot of things. It helps us be energized and excited about what we’re doing, which shows in the work. However, when you’re wanting to monetize those efforts, it’s important to acknowledge what is working and focus accordingly. But don’t be afraid to try something new and different; that’s when the real magic happens.
B: What she said! I struggle with loving everything and wanting to do it all. But I learn over and over and over, by saying yes to everything, you’re basically are saying no. You get stretched so thin and you end up diluting your efforts. You’ll get overwhelmed and start dropping the ball, and letting your commitments down. It’s bad for your self esteem and relationships. I hate that we can’t do it all but…we really can’t. Paring down and saying no is crucial. Read the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. Game changer!
How do you curate posts and discover new trends for the site and vlog?
S: We try to live our lives and take in as much of life as we can. Go to museums, listen to music, paint, read magazines, check out pinterest etc… We don’t jump on every trend…some are just worth skipping. We like to know what’s out there but not be a slave to what everyone else is doing.
B: Yes! It’s pretty organic and we try not to force anything. We love life and making it beautiful so I think there’s a natural awareness of what makes us tick. Also, did we mention eating? We love to eat. Getting to talk over an amazing meal is always inspiring, just as long as we don’t have to make it!
What advice do you have for Get It Girls who want to turn their ideas into a business?
S: Watch what the successful people are doing. Create quality products and be nice to people as you go.
B: You better love you’re idea and what you’re doing so much that you’ll be willing to work your buns off doing it for free…probably a long time. When Summer and I started, we said if GWG didn’t really take off in a year we’d cut our losses! Haha! Here we are five years later and we’re so thankful to be getting great opportunities and making a living doing it. Just know that it can be a long haul and you’ve got to pay your dues. Keep at it and remember why you started!
What marketing or PR tactic have you seen be the most successful in driving awareness and traffic to your blog and YouTube channel?
S: We’ve found that our blog traffic, instagram traffic, youtube traffic, pinterest traffic, etc… are all very different and you have to treat them differently. For YouTube, we’ve grown by being consistent, engaging with our audience, having cute and clear thumbnails, and collaborating with other creators.
B: Yeah, it’s all about that consistency and creating a genuine connection with your audience! I don’t have great PR tactics but I notice that when we’re being true to ourselves, having fun and following through, people notice and they have fun too!