Shinese Brathwaite is the creator and owner of Bk Girls Night out LLC, a lifestyle and event planning brand. Shinese B is an immigrant to the Borough of Brooklyn, similar to countless others. She received her schooling from the age of five years old, residing in crown heights, Flatbush, and currently Bushwick. She is the mother of a first generation Brooklyn girl, who is mixed with several cultures, similar to her birth place of Brooklyn.
While completing her Master’s Degree in Organizational Management, Shinese felt there was a need to use her degree in a way that told the story of her borough, bring women together, and celebrate all things Brooklyn. Her years in fashion, retail, sales, and marketing made her knowledgeable enough to launch her business BK Girls Night Out in 2014. Since then she has been able to work with over 100 and counting female businesses from Brooklyn, outer boroughs, the DMV area, and Delaware. The line-up consists of women seeking an environment to promote their brand, whether hair or skin products, makeup, food, jewelry etc, all things women would want to shop, and see with their girlfriends.
She is also passionate about parities with a purpose always seeking a way to educate, enlighten or inform women about diseases or causes which affect them. Her annual Think Pink Event celebrates survivors or those working toward decreasing/eradicating breast cancer. BKGNO has drawn out crowds of five plus hundred women annually. Most recently the BKGNO “Let’s Meet Up” Series an after-work event which focuses on connecting women through various intimate conversations. In addition, the event partners with small business locations such as restaurants and lounges to promote their location within Brooklyn. Her work has been featured in local blogs such as OurBKSocial, I Don’t Do Clubs, Leading with Lee magazine, Women’s Empire, and a few others. Most notably she received an Appreciation award from the Tallom Foundation located in Brownsville after she raised money toward the organization's scholarship fund for their graduating girls.
When Shinese is not building her brand you can find her enjoying life thru cooking her cultural foods of Guyana or traveling with her partner, daughter, sister or just hanging with her girlfriends. Since the age of five she has loved to travel, loved to eat, and experience all forms of culture, especially in the islands. She has traveled to over 15 different islands with a love for Jamaica, Aruba, and Antigua. The beauty of living in the Borough of Brooklyn or NYC is that you can experience all forms of culture and fall in love with something different each day.
Shinese is passionate about working with the youth to ensure they are aware of the various options. Most recently signed on as a board member for Tallom Foundation located in Brownsville Brooklyn. Being a single mother, and teen mom from a culture that believes in marriage first, then family, she wants to ensure young women know that even though it may be the best, if they end up differently it does not mean they are failures. There can be a path to success, regardless of one setback.
In the near future her plan is to open her own restaurant/lounge in the Brooklyn area where she can work with other starts up, and coordinate events for others. Continue to watch as this tree grows in Brooklyn.
SB-C: Tell us about your entrepreneurial journey. My entrepreneurial journey has been filled with highs and lows, if anyone believes this is easy they would of lied to themselves. The beauty about this journey is what you learn about capabilities, you're able to see what you have the ability to do when you put your mind to it. Back in March 2013 I held a clothing swap party in my apartment at that time it was friends and family. The ladies were invited to cleanse their closet and swap out with others. While we did that we drank wine, had great conversations, and shopped for what I learned was fake Mac vendor. That night taught me so many lessons, and when I was unable to gather them together again I took a leap of faith and here I am three years later gathering women from all boroughs in NYC, NJ, Philly, DMV, and Delaware areas.
SB-C: Brooklyn, where you were raised has played a major role in your business. Tell us more about that. I love Brooklyn my family and I migrated her in September of 1988 to Crown Heights when I was five years old. We lived in Crown Heights, Flatbush, then my mom bought a house in Bushwick Brooklyn. Moving around allowed me to see all the changes to my borough my home, Brooklyn was always dope from artists like Biggie, Aaliyah ( born here relocated to Detroit), Lil Kim, Jay Z. The culture was shaped by so many people, foods, fashion ( which has inspired so many designers), the architecture in the neighbors. As it was changing I wanted to do events that would incorporate all of this beauty.
SB-C: What are some of the difficulties of running an event planning business? The difficulties is that I am a one woman show ( I am blessed with friends that assist when needed) but I do it all, all the contracts, selection of the vendors, locations, site visits, emails, advertising etc. Plus you have to support others, at times you will just want to not run around anymore which can look bad in people eyes but you are not a robot. An entrepreneur has to learn it is alright to take time for yourself, it helps with creativity and remaining true to your journey.
SB-C: You hold a Let's Meet Series, what are some of the topics discussed and how do you ensure that you create a safe space for women? The first meet for this year was back in March entitled " Your Defining Moment" we spoke about perceptions, emotions, and other behaviors which people use to judge us as Black woman. We focused on awareness and how we can change them to better ourselves. The second meet up just focused on having a Night Out to meet new people, eat good food/drinks, working with the local businesses. The third was about the idea of clothing swapping plus meeting new people, enjoying the food/drinks of local businesses and having a Night Out.
SB-C: You also work with teen Mums, as you were once a teen Mum yourself. How do you use your story to empower other women, despite coming from a conservative culture that values marriage first then family! I don't actually work with teen mom's I show young women that if they ever end down my path they have options, however you give me an idea to start speaking to teen moms in 2018 about these options. I have friends who were teen mom that I can invite to speak as they too are extremely successful even with children in college. The Program in Brownsville Tallom focuses on giving young girls an outlet outside of their daily activities. We invite various people to come in speak, design workshops, provide scholarships for their college needs and much more. It is relativity small now but will be growing more in 2018.
SB-C: What are some of the other projects you have planned for your business? For 2018 we plan to take the meet up on the road in four states where we have established a base, and connections. These areas will be NJ, Philly, North Carolina, and New Orleans during Essence Festival.
SB-C: Collaboration is a big part of SB. Are there any organisations you would like to partner with to work with young girls and women? Collaboration is a huge part, also it is one of the most difficult parts to ensure your values are similar, plus you bring out the best in each other. It is not necessarily about being alike but both adding to the success with various skill sets. Currently and in the future I am scouting out organizations, for the tour I had people reach out to me, to bring my Meet Ups to there location. Tallom is the first I have signed on to be a board member and will be working with the teens.
SB-C: What advice do you have for women looking to get into the event planning business? Stay organic it is easy to want to do a lot in the beginning slow and steady wins the race. Dream big but plan effectively that is why Business plans are important. It can start with a mission/vision statement. Build from there do not rush, that is the worst thing you can do you will make more mistakes that you can catch.