#LunchWithLainney is a weekly series inspired by Keith Ferrazzi's Never Eat Alone, This series will highlight upcoming brands and entrepreneurs in Los Angeles, while featuring the best restaurants and happy hours Los Angeles has to offer. #LunchWithLainney was created to inspire Los Angeles creatives to connect and learn with one another more often while experiencing the best that the L.A. food scene can offer.
I first came across Audrey Bellis through her event series "Worthy Women" when researching upcoming conferences in Los Angeles. When I followed her on social media I was hooked with her hip-hop captions and authenticity. As the founder of Worthy Women, Audrey hosts free monthly event series as a safe space for tech and creative entrepreneurial women to learn best practices needed for success. Worthy Women is dedicated to creating a safe space and supportive community of amazing women who dare to play by their own rules, forge their own path, and live their true self worth.
Additionally, Audrey partnered with Nylon Espanol in Brown Girls Rise, a podcast dedicated sharing the stories of women you wish the mainstream media was reporting on. These women of color are driving activism, and change for their both their hyper local communities and our world at large. I caught up with Audrey at Grand Central LA's Horse Thief BBQ to talk about building a business you believe in, what it means to be a "brown girl rising" and more:
Tell us about your hustle. What inspired you to create Worthy Women and Brown Girls Rising?
Brown Girls Rising is a podcast project under WorthyWomen. It was born on Christmakkuh. I come from an interfaith family and this past year, both Hannukah + Christmas overlapped on the same day. To celebrate, I was making my famous jalapeño latkes (it's like a potato pancake or hashbrown) and Too $hort's "Gettin' It' came on my playlist. There is a line in the song that goes: " 'cause I'm one in a million, black men rising, try to keep me down but I always surprise 'em..." and I thought to myself... "I'm a brown girl rising.". So the name came from there but I hadn't decided what I was going to do with it until a later meeting when I was sitting with NYLON Español Editor In Chief, Marty Preciado expressing my frustration about not seeing enough stories about women in the media that looked like me. I felt that there was a ton of content around the Lena Dunham/GIRLS circle of feminism and lots around #BlackGirlMagic, but what about everyone in between. My southeast asian girls, Latinas, Afro-Latinas, Indian etc... and she agreed to be our media partner if we launched a podcast. The rest as they say is history.
WorthyWomen was born from an entirely different story. Almost a year and a half ago, I was looking to create more programming for female founders/entrepreneurs and it took off with a viral following. Today Worthy Women is a women's empowerment brand specializing in diveresity & inclusion as well as multi cultural leadership training for enterprise brands. We also have a "free to the public" conference series currently on a National Tour. Our audience is 70% + self identified as Women Of Color. I'm also committed to free public programming. I believe that women face enough barriers to success and I don't want to be yet another. Access to peer mentorship + community should not be things that are hidden behind a paywall.
What's your biggest lesson in having your own business?
Biggest lesson I've learned is knowing when to trust your gut and that is ALWAYS. If something feels funny or doesn't quite feel right, it's because it usually isn't.
How do you constantly evolve your business? When do you know it's time to take it to the next level?
It's about gradual growth. What took me from A to B, won't necessarily take me to B and C, and that's okay. I'm at a point where I want to hire experienced people, not friends. When you're growing you need to understand that every level reach requires a different you.
What did you order at Horse Thief BBQ?
Breakfast brisket tacos, my all time fav!
What hip-hop lyric describes you?
Definitely going to be from my favorite 90's hip hop song: No Diggity and it's..."by no means average, she's on when she's got to have it."
Know a Los Angeles-based business or entrepreneur we should interview? Comment below with your recommendation!