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Meet Jolie Brownell of Me Too Girl in Inglewood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jolie Brownell.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Jolie. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
The story of how my business started begins the summer right before high school. I was 13 years old and had made a grad goal to use my love of writing to empower other young girls my age. I unpolemically used my voice to challenge the various negative messages out there geared towards young girls. I wrote about everything relating to body image, body acceptance, friendships, goal setting, and more. The specific blog platform (which will not be named) that I wrote most of my blog for began to curate a great following of subscribers. Women both young and old, would follow and comment on my posts explaining how empowered my words made them feel. But soon after this, my account became disabled due to my messages “tainting” the brand of such blog platform. This re-affirmed my pursuit. I knew women and young teenagers were starving for messages that countered all of the negative societal messages. So, I kept going. Over the next few years, I wrote for other female-empowering organizations and centered all my work around uplifting women.

At 17 years old, I graduated from high school and took a gap year to pursue two main projects. Inspired by a conversation with my mother, I decided I wanted to take a year to write and self-publish a book and bring my words in front of live audiences. I was able to find an incredible team of women to help me piece my book together and in September of 2017, I launched my first book: “Me Too: Reasons Why You Are So Freakin’” amazing, wonderful, powerful, beautiful…just the way you are. This book pieced together all the blogs and quotes I wrote up until then. It centered around four main topics: Body Acceptance, Confidence, Goal Setting, and Healthy Relationships. With this book launch, I started being invited to meetings, conferences, and events to speak in front of audiences of girls to share my story and words of encouragement. Within this year, I was able to speak in front of hundreds of girls, produce my own workshops, and received an award (NYC FoundHER’s Award) for my work.

Now at 20 years old, I am a student at Loyola Marymount University pursuing a degree in Women and Gender Studies. Both my studies and work outside of school still center around writing and empowering women and all femmes. And while my business “Me Too Girl” started in 2017, it is only in the last year or so that I have narrowed down the root of my brand. I am a writer, speaker, and poet. I am a Black adopted woman. My identities and my love of the creative is central to what my brand is today. I use poetry to creatively engage my readers and audiences to truly reflect on their own intersections of identity and how they walk through and are perceived by this world. Still centered around empowerment, my work challenges us all to unlearn all of the ways we are taught to hate ourselves and each other and re-learn how to form relationships with ourselves and each other in ways that are loving and liberating.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
During this journey I was very fortunate to have a wonderful and powerful community supporting me. Because of this, I did not run into any major roadblocks. The only thing that comes to mind is the title of my book. First, I had a mentor of mine (who was oddly enough the CEO of a female empowerment organization) unfortunately attempt to steal my title away from me for her own book project. I of course, did not allow this and stood my ground. Yet, because of the titling of my book, I have had many people compare and relate it to the #MeToo movement. I self-published my book two months before the #MeToo movement erupted in national discourse…even the actual movement was started by Tarana Burke in 2006.

While at 17 years old, I was unaware of such movement…the meaning behind my book title was different than the movement. But similar in its regard of letting other women/femmes know that they were not alone in their struggle with self-acceptance and confidence. This similarities in my title has definitely caused some confusion, but I always let people know that while the topic of my book is different, I still fully stand behind the #MeToo movement and believe in its importance. The only other struggle I can think of is my own personal fight with my insecurities and perfectionism. I would second guess and question my work all the time (and I continue to do so) but this struggle re-affirms in me why I need this work as much as anyone else. I am imperfect and that makes me a perfect human: perfectly imperfect. 😊

Please tell us about Me Too Girl.
My brand/business is about all things creative. I write, illustrate, design, and occasionally shoot some photography. My business offers both freelancing services for illustrations and design work and also products like my Me Too Book and Poetry eBooks. Today I am mostly known for my Poetry eBooks. The key to my work though is that it centers around my identities. I believe that as a creative it is important to create work that centers and/or stems from who they are.

I pride myself in selecting and pursuing creative collaborations around racial justice, femme empowerment, and Black femme empowerment. I pride myself in creating work that uplifts the lived experiences of marginalized folks like me. I pride myself in finding ways to celebrate myself through my work in my own journey to self-acceptance and self-liberation. I pride myself in having the audacity to understand myself (as a Black woman) as art and worthy of being seen and valued. I pride myself in creating work that not only challenges the very structures of our current society but also pushes readers to reclaim their creativity and re-imagine entire new worlds and what is possible. That is the power of the creative: to bring to life the impossible. Bring to life what can be. Bring the revolution to life. Like Toni Cade Bambara said so perfectly, “The purpose of a writer is to make revolution irresistible.”

Let’s change the world…and let’s do it through art and poetry. This is what I think sets me apart from other creatives or poets. My work is uninterested in only entertaining. I believe there is much-needed change that needs to take place and I hope my work inspires others to not only believe in this change but also see themselves as agents of change. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
No, if I could start over, I wouldn’t do anything differently. I learned from every mistake and am so proud of each version of myself that it took to get where I am today. I am forever growing and changing and am so excited to see where I go from here.

Pricing:

  • All of my individual Poetry eBooks are less than $10. I do this because I believe it is important to make art that is accessible to folks. My eBooks also go on sale a lot.
  • My freelancing work prices vary but fall between $25-$50 an hour.
  • My Me Too Book is $16.99 and the eBook form is $10.50
  • You’re Cute, But Are You Woke eBook is $8.50
  • Nappy Headed Teachings Vol. I eBook is $6.50
  • Nappy Headed Teachings Vol. II (The Sweet Taste of Salt) eBook is $8.50

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Photo of me holding a pineapple: Andrea Angus, Photos of me on TED stage: TEDxSalem Photography Team, Photo of me holding my book: Layeelah Muhammad

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