What it means to be a ‘girl boss’

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“Being a ‘girl boss’ is owning the space you’re in.” Photo Courtesy of VS Pink at North Carolina A&T on Instagram.

Sydney Ross, theCulture Reporter

Victoria’s Secret Pink at North Carolina A&T held its first program of the year on Sept. 23 via Instagram live. The discussion panel hosted four HBCU women to discuss branding, creativity, leadership and social media influencing. 

The event was moderated by Maurissa Barnes, a junior nursing student and Ardelle Dickerson, a senior journalism student. Barnes and Dickerson are serving as this year’s campus representatives for Victoria’s Secret Pink. 

They asked each panelist a series of questions that allowed them to not only explain what they do, but how they exemplify what it means to be a ‘girl boss.’

N.C. A&T alum Kiara Nelson, a spring 2020 graduate and owner of Natural Boss Brand, was the first panelist to kick off the event. Her mission is to help brand design for young female entrepreneurs and their personal brands. 

Natural Boss Branding offers three services: Brand Intensive, which helps people build the framework of their brand; Social Solution, helping business owners that want to build an online presence and be their authentic self; and Revamp Regimen, which would help business owners reach their target audience.

Photo: Kiara Nelson. Photo Courtesy of VS Pink at North Carolina A&T on Instagram.

Because Nelson owns a branding business, many of the questions she received revolved around the topic of entrepreneurship. Throughout the discussion she stressed the importance of authenticity and being true to who you are. 

When asked about tips she had for any student who wanted to grow their own business in a competitive industry, Nelson suggested to just simply “be yourself”. 

“Be original and find your own path,” Nelson said. “Discovering what’s best for you is the best way to stand out.”

Nelson also gave advice for students looking to start their own business. When asked what advice would she give to women who are interested in beginning their own business, she encouraged them to just go for it regardless of the obstacles they might face.

She also warned that things are not going to just happen overnight and that it takes time to establish a business. She encouraged students to just stay optimistic about their future success.

“Remember it is not going to blossom overnight,” Nelson said. “There are many obstacles that come with starting a business.” 

The event’s creative panelist was Arial Robinson, a junior multimedia journalism student. She is a mixed media artist and a published author. 

She has received much recognition for her most recent work, The Modern Day Black Alphabet, which was released in April 2020. This book was her way to remake the 1980’s version of The Black Alphabet so that today’s youth could relate to its content.

Photo: Arial Robinson. Photo Courtesy of VS Pink at North Carolina A&T on Instagram.

Robinson answered many questions that were geared towards her book and inspirations. With all that has happened in our world today, she wanted to create a modern version of this book that our younger generations could strongly relate to.

When asked how she felt knowing her book is inspiring young Black children, she expressed gratitude. 

“It is amazing knowing something I created could inspire someone so much,” Robinson said.

Robinson says she tries to find inspiration from powerful black women and the black experience and wants to use her platform to inspire everyone around her.

“I try to use my platform to speak for the black woman … as our experience is not a one way street,” Robinson said.

The Modern Black Alphabet is not the end for Robinson. When asked about her future endeavors, she discusses she has another book that should be released next month entitled Black Hair Care in Color

This book, unlike the last, will focus on teaching colors using images that relate to African American culture. She also plans on releasing new music in the coming month as well.

The topic of leadership was led by Brianna Rascoe, a senior psychology and public relations student. She currently serves as the 86th Miss North Carolina A&T State University.

Rascoe stressed the importance of giving back to the student body. She says as students it is important that we give back to our community. While discussing this she heavily referenced the circle of life from the movie “The Lion King,” as it was also a big part of her spring campaign theme.  

Photo: Briana Rascoe. Photo Courtesy of VS Pink at North Carolina A&T on Instagram.

She explains how her position is more than just a name for her. Being the face of the school comes with the great responsibility of representing the entire student body and the university itself. She also serves as a liaison between the students and the faculty.

Like Nelson, Rascoe stressed the importance of being true to yourself. When asked how she copes with imposter syndrome, she admits that it was difficult in the beginning but she had to force herself to be unapologetically who she is. 

“It would be a disservice to the people I am serving to not be myself,” Rascoe said. 

During her campaign, she says she made sure to stay true to herself as she owed it to the student body to continue to be who she is.

Darby Smith, a graduate student attending Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana was the influencer speaker and final panelist. She completed her undergraduate degree at Southern in 2019, where she also served as the 88th Miss Southern University. 

Smith currently works as the Director of Student Activities and Leadership Development at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas. She also serves as the advisor to Wiley College SGA and their Royal Court. 

Photo: Darby Smith. Photo Courtesy of VS Pink at North Carolina A&T on Instagram.

To add, Smith is a social media brand influencer. Just recently, she obtained the first influencer position at Crush Boutique in Louisiana and is an influencer for Shop Buddy Love Boutique in Dallas as well.

Smith spoke on maintaining a respectful and professional online presence even when social media trends are always evolving. With Smith being a social media influencer, she gave many tips on how to navigate social media in a respectable way while still being yourself. 

When asked about her experience as an emerging influencer, she explains that it was not an easy journey as she has faced many societal pressures. 

“I had to learn that my journey is nowhere near in comparison to my friends’ journeys,” Smith said. 

She also advised anyone who wants to become an influencer to make a good social media presence and not compare yourself to anyone else. 

“It is just you against you,” Smith said. “Imagine yourself as a queen. How can you mix being a queen and being yourself together?”

When a viewer asked, “How should we as young women present ourselves on social media?” Smith had some strong points on how to keep in mind respectability when posting.

Smith says to post online as if your future employer is already following you, or to think that a young girl who looks up to you is following you and watching your every post. 

At the conclusion of the virtual event, everyone that attended left with the common definition of what it means to be a woman entrepreneur.

“Turning your passions and talents into a success story,” is how Dickerson described what a girl boss looks like, and each of these women exemplified just that in their own unique ways.