Today we’d like to introduce you to Carrie Murray.
Carrie is the founder of BRA – Business Relationship Alliance, a network of powerful women devoted to advancing female-owned businesses by providing the community, collaboration, mentorship, empowerment and support needed to flourish as an entrepreneur.
Carrie began working to advance the rights of women when she became the first in her family to graduate college with a Bachelor’s in Social Work from San Francisco State University with an emphasis on Domestic Violence. She went to work as a court advocate, working for victims trying to understand their rights and navigate the judicial system. She then went on to get a Master’s Degree from Antioch University with an emphasis in Social Justice.
After that, Carrie joined the Los Angeles School System and became a teacher working her way up to be an administrator at an LAUSD public charter school. Fueled by her passion and the inspiration that her mother instilled in her, Carrie rose up through the ranks and eventually became a Principal. She then excitedly made the jump to an entrepreneur in 2011 and started her own school, Prestique Academy of Innovation and Technology, a school for twice exceptional kids. In doing that, she became the first person in her family to own a business. As a solopreneur, she realized that although she knew so much about education, she knew very little about running a business. Carrie would spend every spare minute researching all the best business practices possible, from finance, earning capital and business development, to marketing and public relations.
Simultaneously, while doing double-duty as a mom of two young kids, she would eventually build a circle of friends who were also in the same boat; not only “solopreneurs” but “mompreneurs” who shared the same frustrations, limitations and struggles that she did. Through these friendships, Carrie quickly realized these women also had nowhere to turn but each other for answers and there had to be a better way. So what started out as casual dinner parties at her house, morphed into fruitful networking sessions as more and more women outside her immediate circle wanted in. At first, they would come together monthly, and then weekly to discuss all things business. It was through sharing their own personal experiences and providing advice, education and support to one another that they found a like-minded community of women who shared the same vision. From those dinners, BRA – Business Relationship Alliance – was born.
Carrie then set out to create a community where the key factor was the advancement of female entrepreneurs (at all levels) and built its foundation on three fundamental core values: 1. Collaboration over competition; 2. Commitment to each other as professionals and to hire within their network first; and 3. Advance women as experts in business through educational opportunities. In doing that, she also created a community where women could be viewed as valuable while still feeling comfortable being vulnerable. Once she hit 100 members she left running the school to focus on BRA full time.
Carrie is also an active philanthropist donating both anonymously and publicly to organizations like Dress for Success, a nonprofit organization that empowers women to achieve economic independence, and WeSpark, which provides cancer treatment centers in Los Angeles. She still loyally drives her two kids to school every day and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Sean Murray, from CBS’ hit show, NCIS.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has been difficult finding balance between parenting and working. I love working and have since I was 15, so the times when I was staying at home made me stir crazy, although I loved being with my kids. I also didn’t like what I was seeing in the world of education, so after 14 years, I left to start my own private school for twice exceptional kids but the business side of running my own school was overwhelming and although I was making a positive impact in the lives of my students, I wasn’t necessarily loving what I was doing even though I was really good at it.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about BRA -Business Relationship Alliance – what should we know?
BRA, Business Relationship Alliance, was founded in 2015 by former educator Carrie Murray and is a network of female entrepreneurs that aims to bring “solopreneurs” together through a shared sense of community, collaboration, and empowerment. With a mantra of “Collaboration over Competition,” the members are committed to hiring each other FIRST.
Starting with dinner parties comprised of friends looking to bond over the shared experiences, frustration and excitement over owning a business, soon became an influential business support network where they could come together to feel lifted up and find emotional and professional support. Membership levels were developed based on the idea that every woman business owner needs a varied amount of support, Strapless, Demi Cup to Full Coverage; BRA is now a powerful network of professional women from all walks of life starting businesses from conception to launch and beyond.
As part of the education BRA provides, members can participate in unique CourseSet classes designed to help them cinch up their business mindset and develop their business from the inside out. CourseSets are four weeks of workshops on topics such as; Business Plan Development, Website Design, Social Media Marketing, Product Development, Strategic Branding, Accounting and Finance, Public Relations and Legal Expertise. In addition, Carrie throws weekly co-working sessions or Business Boostiers, where members come together and share in their experience to seek advice and develop partnerships, again providing opportunities for women to collaborate with one another.
BRA also supports Dress for Success, which is the yearly recipient of all monies raised from their annual Women on the Rise Luncheon, through their partnership with the KIND CAMPAIGN, The RISE UP Festival for teenage girls that aims to build confidence and the profound acceptance of self and body and to show girls how to advocate for themselves, stop spectating and actively work against injustice and discrimination.
Based mostly in Los Angeles, but expanding every day, many of these mompreneurs are on their second or third careers and flock to Carrie and BRA to share experiences, advice and any and all business help necessary to help each other succeed in her chosen career.
Growing every day, BRA currently has offices in Los Angeles and Long Beach.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I’m a natural connector. I can listen to someone tell me about what they are struggling with and I can connect them with the right people seamlessly and with pure joy. I love seeing other women succeed and support each other. I’m also great at ideation and creation, present me with a problem and I can help you work through it and flush out solutions to get you through it. I enjoy listening to people talk about their businesses, successes and struggles. I’m the soccer mom for female entrepreneurs, I’ll be there cheering from the sidelines, making sure you have a snack (wine) and ready to help you recover from any fall.
- Annual Membership begins at $78 – $289
- Website: www.bra-network.com
- Phone: 310-279-9257
- Email: Carrie@bra-network.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bra_network/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BRAlosangeles/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/bra_network
- Other: https://www.pinterest.com/BRAnetwork/pins/
Kathy Schuh, Bree McCool, Monica Linda