City Girl of the Month: Gracelyn Fraser
Brown Sugar Beauti’s Founder and CEO
City Girl of the Month: Gracelyn Fraser, Brown Sugar Beauti’s Founder
City Girl had the opportunity to speak with Gracelyn Fraser, Founder of Brown Sugar Beauti, which is a local Houston event that takes place every year that highlights and showcases the latest trends in hair, makeup, and skin care, and encourages women of color to embrace their many facets of beauty.
There are still a few people who are unfamiliar with Brown Sugar Beauti, so can you enlighten us about it?
Brown Sugar Beauti is a company that promotes beauty and women of color. We partner with local beauty businesses, mostly owned by women of color, to produce events and expos. Basically we’re geared towards women of color to provide them with hairstylists, makeup artists, pampering services, and other things related to beauty.
That’s extremely commendable of you to promote and encourage us, women of color, as well as bringing us all together to embrace our beauty because we are all beautiful. How did you come up with this idea?
I was always fascinated with things that dealt with beauty from when I was a young girl rocking the jheri-curl. I was always doing something with my hair. Then as I got a little older, I began to experiment with makeup. Throughout my career, I’ve always gravitated to all things beauty. In 2011, I created a blog to express myself. I wanted a way to communicate with other women of color to discuss different topics regarding beauty. I would attend beauty expos and events and observe. I would see things that I would do differently then I just decided to put one on myself. I created a vision board and showed it to my close family and friends so that I could be held accountable for actually following through with what I said I wanted to do. It kind of started from there. I immediately began to work on my first expo that was held in 2013.
How did your first expo turn out, and what did you display and provide for your attendees?
It turned out really well. Hundreds of Brown Sugar Beauties supported, and we received rave reviews! When I was planning it, I thought heavily about location because I wanted it to be held at a place that had character. I didn’t want have it at your typical convention center; I wanted a more intimate feel, so I chose the Houston Museum of African-American Culture. We didn’t want it to just be an event where people would come and just look around at the different vending spots; we wanted interaction. We got vendors to come out and do makeup, complimentary manicures and massages, and many other services that our guests could try out. Also, we had entertainment: a poet, a singer, and a DJ. There was even a local sponsor that served complimentary drinks. We received many donations from different beauty products to make sure our guests left with great goodie-bags. We were able to give everyone a full beauty experience.
That’s simply amazing. I know you imagined the success, but did you think that it would have had such a great turn out like it did?
In my heart, I wanted it to be successful, and I guessed it would be. Honestly, I didn’t realize until after it was all over and saw the footage from videos and photos that I knew that it was as successful as it was.
Now let’s bring everyone to the most recent expo, which was your second one. It was held right at the end of this past year, December 7, 2014 to be exact.
Our second annual expo was a great success! Guests enjoyed complimentary massages, manicures, lite bites, entertainment and awesome goody bags from our signature Beauty Goodie Buffet. Lots of business and Brown Sugar Beauties, supported the event and for that I’m grateful!
What are some new things we can expect this year from Brown Sugar Beauti?
In 2015, if everything goes as planned, I will definitely have an expo in Houston, but I will also like to have an expo in Chicago. We would also like to continue partnering with local businesses to host fun, fabulous events.
What is your overall goal for Brown Sugar Beauti and yourself?
My ultimate goal is to have expos in different cities not just nationally but internationally as well. I want to continue to find places that have character to host my expos. My vision is to continue to make sure my expos are interactive and not just a place to come and get handouts or pamphlets.
I will say that usually when I attend any type of expo at convention centers and even smaller events not at convention centers, they consist of you just walking around picking up pamphlets and other things. I’ve never felt an intimate vibe. In fact, I always felt them to be overwhelming because it’s so huge and so many vendors. It would just feel like it was too much going on for me, so I would shy away and just walk around until I leave.
I actually had someone tell me that exact same thing after they attended an expo. She said that it was really overwhelming because the convention center was so huge. “Intimacy” is the main word that I want to describe my expos. Even though I want it to grow, I still want people to come and get an intimate feeling and connection. I want my guests to feel like they got their money’s worth and that they didn’t attend just an expo, but they had an experience.
Even though I think you are absolutely gorgeous and people can just follow your Instagram (@brownsugarbeauti) and website, www.brownsugarbeauti.com, who are some women that we can follow to get other beauty tips?
There are so many. Although I’m natural, I embrace everything that’s beauty because all of us are not natural, so I follow them all. Some people at times, mistake my brand for a natural hair brand, and I am not. My brand is an all beauty brand, so I’m not going to ignore half of our sisters who perm or straighten their hair. Just to name some people whose looks and work I love, one person would have to be Takeya, @takeya_monique. She’s probably one of my favorite natural hair ladies I follow because I just love how she embraces weave styles as well. Actually, I learned about Haute Kinky Hair, which is a natural hair weave company, by seeing Takeya wear and maintain her natural weave. Takeya is versatile, and she shows how you can wear versatile protective styles with the Haute Kinky Hair as well as her own. Following her is how I learned about the natural hair weaving/protective styling. Tamika Fletcher from Natural Resources is another one. She just knows a lot about hair, and how to treat it. I’ve watched many of her demonstrations, which helped me learn to style my twist-outs when they are old and what are some good products to use. Also, Colour Nail Bar is a wonderful nail salon. It’s one of the few black-owned nail bars in Houston. Lastly, Makeup Artist Kim Clark of Kim Clark Artistry. I admire her clean, classic looks and her amazing work ethic.
It was my pleasure speaking with you Gracelyn. Before we wrap it up, I have one last question. What advice can you give someone who has a dream but are held back by fears and doubts?
My advice would be to just do it. Even if you fail, at least you tried it. As long as you have breath in your body, there is still a chance. One of my favorite scriptures is, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Just take that first step; God will see you through. CGM