Shay Davis of the Bronze Hustle on creating your own opportunities after college

After graduating from college, we all think our degree is going to open all kinds of doors for us and we'd have the career and life of our dreams by age 22. Unfortunately, this isn't the case for many recent grads and it wasn't the case for digital media professional and blogger Shay Duriel Davis

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After graduating from college in 2014, with a degree in Mass communications and journalism from the University of South Carolina, Davis thought she'd have no problem navigating the real world. 

All of her life she'd admired fictional writer Carrie Bradshaw and imagined herself with a similar glamorous editorial job. For Davis, she didn't get her big shot until a year after college and it wasn't all that it cracked up to be.  

We we got a chance to catch up with Davis on why she launched the Bronze Hustle, what sisterhood means to her and much more. 

 

What drives you?

What drives me is being a beacon of life, in other peoples lives. As bloggers, we all kind of turn into influencers. People start to follow us and value our opinions and I would much rather have a positive influence on peoples lives. 

I would much rather make sure that the content I put out actually encourages people to be better influencers, or bloggers. So just being a leader is what drives me. 

You’ve been very candid about overcoming the things life has thrown at you, what are your keys to being an overcomer?

Using the "failures" and obstacles that we all have to go through at some point, we all have something that we have to push through. So using those and chalking it up to a success or putting that energy from a negative aspect back into a positive aspect. Over time we all go through these things but we don't have to let them keep us down, we can flip them to our benefit. 

 

I don't why we keep pushing ourselves down when we just need to go up and grow from it. 

 

If you could, what is one thing you would change about the online entrepreneurship landscape?

The one size fits all mentality that a lot of people have. When you start following certain people you see that they wake up at 4 AM, they have come up with some kind of work-life balance that works for them and everyone tries to copy and paste into their lives. Or they have some type of formula that caused them to make 6 figures and it just doesn't work like that.

There are some people who reach success however they reach it and when other people try to copy that it just isn't the same thing. I talk to my biz besties and I'm like "Girl, we need to put in the work!" 

 

There is no copying pasting someone else's success, but I think its something people have to learn on their own. 

 

It doesn't matter how any peoples DM's you jump in or how many courses you take, if you're not putting in the work for you, and doing it the way it needs to happen for you. 

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How do you stay motivated and avoid burnout?

This is something I've really been working on lately. What I've been doing, which is not revolutionary by any means, is turning off my phone from 10 pm to 8 am every weeknight. I completely block out everybody and everything during that time.

Early in the morning and late at night we just consume so much - we are mindlessly scrolling, liking the same pictures and getting caught up on the Shade Room. It's just stuff that doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things so I've been taking the time to censor myself.

Right now I'm reading Think and Grow Rich, so every morning and every night I'll pick that up, I'll meditate, journal, take notes, etc. That's just my time to just be whatever I need to be for me, I just can't be [consuming] everyone's crap at the beginning and end of each day. 

Can you tell me about what prompted you to launch the Bronze hustle? Have any of your goals or expectations for the platform changed over time?

I've started numerous blogs and they've all fallen through for whatever reason but when I started the Bronze Hustle, I felt it was something I needed to do because I wasn't getting any good jobs. I had my little internships in college, but being naive when you graduate you're like "Oh I have my experience, I have a degree, I can do this and that  - I should be fine."  Not so much.

On the communications side, in journalism, it was getting popular, gaining momentum and it was really competitive for jobs. I live in North Carolina so automatically there was very little [opportunity] in that field to begin with.  

After a year of searching after graduation, I finally got a job in my field. I only stayed at that job for 9 or 10 months, because I dealt with so much crap. I was constantly being attacked in meetings, or I wasn't doing something right,  and pay was barely there. 

I quit. I left and jumped head first into starting my blog. I felt I wasn't getting the full experience I wanted, I needed to create something. So at least I can have something on my resume and say that I've done something and built something on my own - even if people won't give me an opportunity. From there it just grew as a community, an outlet, for Black women to connect and grow. 

I would say my goals have changed over time, when I started I said I'm just going to have a consistent blog posts, it was really a resume piece for me.

I've shifted to trying to make it a business and make consistent income. Next year I've been setting myself up to bring in more income, and have more products for people to buy. In the beginning, I didn't necessarily have that mindset.

I feel like once you spend so much time and money on something, you think 'OK now it's time for me to make money off of this.' You have to stop apologizing for all the free work and make money from it. 

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The focus and purpose of the Bronze Hustle is to help millennial Black women, what gap did you want to fill by making them your target audience?

I feel like it's been popular over the past couple years to target millennial black women, which is the "IT"group. That's not what I was thinking but I knew coming from the South and an all Black college, mainly white high school - it just didn't seem like I had a whole lot to look at besides gossip sites.

There just weren't too many outlets like the one I wanted to create. But of course there have been so many brands that have popped up. 

 

I'm glad there's a resurgence of Black empowerment and Black Girl Magic. I think it's important because it grows us all and creates that sisterhood. 

 

You’ve worked in editorial, PR and social media for magazine and other publications, what advice would you give to someone wanting to break into the industry?

Get your foot in the door whatever way you can. [My] job fell into my lap. I was a freelance writer  and [the editor] told me about an internship, and then someone was leaving the job. So I got the job because I was an intern but did have the background to be able to work there. I had already been out of school for a year and wasn't looking for an internship but I wanted to see what would come of it.

That job wasn't easy to get by any means. It's really about working your magic whatever way you can. If you have to be an intern, or ask for an assistant position, do it, but doing things on your own is also important. Get your feet wet to get yourself in the door. 

What has sisterhood meant to you in your career?

A lot - having people to collaborate with, understand where you're coming from, bounce ideas off of.

 

You're not alone, we all go though similar things with our brands so I think it's important to have a tribe that supports you and you support them. 
 

Also having biz besties you can speak to when you have a problem, or when you just need someone to tell you if something is a good or bad idea - all of that is important and it all stems from sisterhood. 

Rita Olds-Robinson is one of my biz besties, she's the creator behind Heydays Design.  She's one of the people I call to bonce ideas off of. She can check me, I can check her and that's the relationship we have. I can ask her for anything and she can ask me for anything. 

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Timing is everything. I understand you didn’t land your dream job until a year after college. What lessons did you learn from this experience?

So many. It was a time when everyone was going to get a new car and I couldn't get a job. It mentally and spiritually breaks you down. It hits you like 'Wow, I don't go to school anymore, what do I do?' I learned so much during that time about having faith in me and God, and not putting all my marbles in one basket.

I had to learn not to apply for a few jobs here and there. I learned that there are some people that won't ever say anything back. There have been plenty of times I applied for jobs and heard back six months later. My mom didn't understand why I had a degree and was still at home. 

 

So I just fell into part time entrepreneurship with the Bronze Hustle. You just have to take life's lemons and make your lemonade. 

 

Where do you see yourself taking the Bronze Hustle in the next year?

I want to start making income from it. I've planned out the rest of this year and Q1 of next year and it's looking like I'm going to break even.

Next year I'm looking to create a profit. I've put thousands into the Bronze Hustle so while breaking even is cool, a profit is even cooler. That's something I've been looking forward to.

I've also been getting a lot of interviews so in the next year I'd like to get more into speaking, planning events for the Bronze Hustle and growing the audience. 

 

Follow Shay Duriel and The Bronze Hustle on Twitter.