An empowering GirlBoss story is always one worth exploring. We had the pleasure of speaking with Erika King–founder and owner of Business & Brunch and EK Branding Consultants. Ms. King is a sassy, marketing and branding professional, whose untraditional journey lead her to entrepreneurship. Stepping outside of her comfort zone, King moved to Atlanta seeking more opportunities and a wider network, but she ran into a slight bump in the road. None of the networking events she attended felt “right” for her. Expanding on this observation and her desire to bring women together in an impactful and meaningful way, Business & Brunch was created.
Tell us about your entrepreneurship journey, how has your experience influenced your brand?
My first experience with entrepreneurship came from modeling. As a model, I had to understand the value of investing in myself and creating a brand that I was comfortable with. I also had to understand that my brand was not for everyone. Eventually I started a photography company and worked as a professional photographer for 5-6 years until I decided to move to Atlanta to grow in my career. Upon moving to Atlanta, I found it really hard to connect with people that were like-minded. I was going to all the wrong networking events, hanging out with all the wrong people, and I just felt stuck. I started Business & Brunch, invited about 7 women that I knew, and the rest is history.
What challenges have you faced building your brand and how did you overcome them?
Money! I have big ideas and they cost money. Overcoming this challenge included looking for sponsors to help cover some of the costs in exchange for different offerings. I also use my income from my day job to fund a lot of the things that I want to do.
Relationships – The value of relationships is priceless. You can’t really do anything without them. I had to learn how to operate a 90% digital brand and cultivate relationships with people that I didn’t always see in person or speak with to gain support. Also, making time to grab coffee or talk on the phone with my real life friends is hard. Sometimes I look up and I’m like “wow, I haven’t seen my friend in 6 months, let me text her really quick to see how she’s doing.”
Time – Working a 9-5, owning a business, and having a passion project like Business & Brunch is tiring and extremely hard. I had to learn to be very serious about the time I spend and who I spend it with. Also, growing in my relationship with my fiancé sometimes suffers. We are both entrepreneurs and work opposite schedules. So learning to communicate better and be intentional about the time we spend with each other, making sure we are actually having conversations and finding time to be there for each other requires a lot of sacrifice.
What motivated you to develop the successful monthly networking series, ‘Business & Brunch?’
I know there are tons of women empowerment groups, but there was not one for me. And I was sure that I wasn’t the only one who was attending events, feeling awkward and leaving with nothing that could help me advance. So I created Business & Brunch. Being in a new city forced me to step outside of my comfort zone and I did that with Business & Brunch.
What sets ‘Business & Brunch’ apart from the average networking event? What makes it unique?
I approach planning every Business & Brunch event by asking myself, “What am I giving?” I also refuse to build integrity and trust solely upon a “who’s who” guest list and panel of speakers. Value, support and resources are at the center of the Business & Brunch brand. I want to create something that is so helpful and offers REAL solutions and answers to the questions we ask ourselves about business, career, relationships and many other topics that pertain to women. And I want to do it without charging $400 for admission.
How do you envision ‘Business & Brunch’ progressing in the new year?
This year, my goal is to create a more inclusive message for women that don’t own businesses. Women making strides in their career fields need just as much support as entrepreneurs. So I’m going to be a little more transparent about my journey as a career woman and talk about issues and opportunities that can make us feel included in the conversation as well. I also want to have one free event every month in addition to the other events we do. Finally, giving the Business & Brunch community access to each other is a big goal of mine. I want to create a unique online space where women can share information and support each other.
How do you measure success as an entrepreneur?
As an entrepreneur, success is measured in many different ways for different people. For me I measure the success of Business & Brunch in the amount of women we help, the number of genuine connections we make, all of the amazing compliments and support we receive from our community, and little confirmations that we are doing what is best for our community as a whole.