A Belle in Brooklyn: Readies Her Second Chapter
by: iman n. milner
Many have said the business of blogging has given women a chance to scale the ladder of success without relying on their male counterparts for opportunities. For women of color, it’s given us a chance to put voice to our experience, breaking down the barrier of pre-imposed strength and replacing it with the complex vulnerability we all hold inside. Several years ago, Demetria Lucas was deemed “The Black Carrie Bradshaw” and the title was fitting as she had rose to recognition for sharing her ups and downs in dating, love and NYC. But that title no longer suffices. Today the Belle has found her beau, is now working on her second book and, unlike Carrie, has expanded her life far past the bounds of writing for others and is now a full fledged business woman working on expanding her empire…and we’ve got a feeling that she won’t be left at the altar.
What was the mission behind A Belle In Brooklyn? Has it changed? If so, why?
I started my blog in 2007 because I couldn’t find content that reflected Black women like me and my friends. I was really dissatisfied with the inaccurate way Black women were/are depicted in the media and I wanted to create something just to go on record to say, “hey, there’s another side to the story.” As it turned out, a lot of people related to my perspective.
The A Belle in Brooklyn brand has expanded in ways I never could have predicted when I began. It now encompasses the blog, of course, but also a book, live events, international travel experiences, a life coaching practice, and a couple other exciting projects that I’m not able to talk about just yet. The core mission has stayed the same though there is a more intentional focus on empowering women these days.
Advice for writers who want to be published? Or for bloggers looking to make their blog their livelihood?
Ideas are your everything. Figure out what’s not being said, and pitch that idea to an editor at your favorite online publication. Don’t get discouraged by rejection, or lack of response. Keep going until it works for you. And if you really think you have something to say worth hearing, publish it yourself on your own site.
Sometimes blogging seems like a really glamorous occupation, but it’s an incredible amount of work and discipline. If you’re going to start a blog, do it because of your passion for the subject matter, not to make money. If you’re not really into it, you won’t be able to put in the hours to make it profitable and successful. It takes a long time to build a following, but if you’re good and you’re dedicated, it can be very lucrative.
How did NY specifically influence your decision to choose the topic for your blog?
A Belle in Brooklyn is a description that literally where I am in life: a Southern(ish) woman, a belle, who literally lives in Brooklyn. When I began my blog, I spoke candidly about my life—where I went, who I hung out with, my struggle to build a life in New York. This city, and all of its nuances, has been a “character” in all my writing.
What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Starting my own business. Shortly after my book came out, I left my job magazine editor to explore opportunities related to the book and to launch Coached by Belle, a boutique life coaching service where I help (mostly) women improve their careers and personal lives. I also freelance as a writer, producing up to 8 stories a week. I’ve never worked so hard, but I love what I do. It never feels like “a job.”
What can readers expect from your new book?
My next book, Don’t Waste Your Pretty, will be out this summer. It’s a straight-forward and empowering advice guide that will help women make better use of their time, energy and emotions when it comes to choosing a suitable mate, resolving conflict in a relationship and moving on from exes.
How do you think social networking has changed the online business game? If at all.
For those who are smart at marketing, it’s made it so much easier to spread your message and connect with potential clients.
Why is it important to maintain a sense of privacy at this part of your career after having shared so much?
I’ve always only shared just what I was comfortable with receiving feedback on. Some would say that my comfort level with sharing was further than most, but I’ve never really felt like I shared “so much.” I was just honest about a lot of things that happen to a lot of people that few were willing to talk about. For many of the subjects I talked about, there were a gaggle of women who responded, “me too.”
What’s next for the Belle brand?
My second book, Don’t Waste Your Pretty, will be out this fall. I’m also planning my first international trip “Belles in Barbados” in November. I’ve always encouraged my readers to live their “best life” and travel and great experiences are an important part of that plan. I wish I could share more about the other ventures. I pinky-promise there are some other exciting things to come.