A year ago, marketing communications professional Brittney Oliver decided to take life’s lemons and turn them in to lemonade.
“I decided to be fearless and to share my story to inspire others to keep focus on their dreams. I choose to take life’s lemons and turn them into lemonade,” Oliver explains on her website. “My glass of lemonade consists of a dash of resilience, a sprinkle of tenacity, a cup of faith, a pinch of grace and a dose of creativity.”
And now she is helping others figure out what’s in their glass of lemonade, by launching the networking group and event series, Lemons 2 Lemonade.
DIVERGE talked to Oliver to find out the scoop on her new found passion.
Where did the idea for Lemons 2 Lemonade come from?
Lemons 2 Lemonade came into fruition after experiencing many growing pains during my post-graduate journey. Many lemons were thrown my way when I moved to NYC, two weeks after graduation. I went through an eight-month period of unemployment after going through 100 interviews in pursuit of a public relations career. After finally obtaining a public relations role and entering another transitional period, I landed an assistant gig with ESSENCE. As I worked in the lifestyle and relationship department, I rediscovered my love for writing. Working in the environment with other brilliant Black women who were unapologetic, confident and who were unafraid to wear their flaws, empowered me to share my story. I realized that I didn’t have to wait for someone to open a door of opportunity, I could create my own and share the stories that I wanted to share. So I created Lemons 2 Lemonade blog which turned into an event series that includes Twitter chats and networking mixers.
How did you follow through with this idea?
I followed through with accountability from my friends. I kept pushing things back because I wanted to build my brand and social media to get sponsorship. I didn’t think anyone would support without having that backing. I mentioned it to my circle and they kept asking and reminding me that this needs to happen. I connected with my cousin who helped me develop the website design. Afterward, I took what I learned from my work experience to create content and plan the events. My first event happened because an associate who works in event planning told me she would help me, which motivated me because I knew I wouldn’t be doing it alone. I would do the panel content and outreach for speakers and she would do everything else, and I was able to get a venue and a lineup of speakers within 24 hours. As I got the ball rolling she disappeared, so I couldn’t back out. I had to keep going. I was able to get everything for free except my speaker gifts and I did it all by myself. It was a “lemons 2 lemonade” moment because a week before the event my computer crashed and everything was wiped off my hard drive. It set me back in terms of marketing, but the first event was a success.
How many events have you hosted and what was the turnout like?
I’ve hosted two events and four Twitter chats since starting. I’ve had up to 80 attendees per mixer and over 3,000,000 impressions using the hashtag #L2LChat
What was the feedback of the events?
What’s been great is that my attendees love that the speakers include men and topics that everyone can learn from.
Also, my attendees and speakers have garnered opportunities from the mixers. Past attendees and speakers were offered opportunities to speak at national conferences like the Urban League Conference, partner up for fundraisers and gain paid gigs for their side hustles after attending an L2L Mixer. Those testimonials are a testament to what a networking mixer should be. You should leave feeling empowered but also leave with opportunities.
What’s next for you? Upcoming event?
I’m already working on 2017 events and trying to find sponsorship to take Lemons 2 Lemonade on the road and make it bigger and better.
Why is this your passion?
My passion is to help other Millennials find ways to turn their difficult situations around. Many of us don’t graduate with jobs in our career field or are able to live life getting paid to work on our passion, so we hold on to the dream. I’ve seen many people give up. I’ve seen many people wait for someone to open the door for them. I think the key is finding a way to open the door yourself. Many of us don’t know how to do that. Therefore, creating a space where people can hear from those they admire to share their experience of turning lemons 2 lemonade will help the next person find momentum in creating the life they want. It wasn’t until I sat in rooms with professionals that I looked up too who were candid about their plight to success. It wasn’t always easy even though they make it look easy. Knowing that ensures me that things will turn around. Sometimes you just need the right ingredients to make lemonade and other sometimes it’s all about timing.
What is your profession?
I am a content producer, I am a marketing communications professional, I’m a writer and I am a Senior Marketing Associate at GreenPearl events. I am responsible for overseeing the marketing initiatives for over 30 events by developing the marketing websites, ticket pricing, and e-mail promotions.
How do people react when you share your idea and reach out for help?
Amazed and excited. People are happy to assist in Lemons 2 Lemonade because they can identify with dealing with life’s obstacles. My creditability comes from my personal story and from my published work. I think people are amazed after hearing my personal accounts that I kept going and didn’t give up. I’ve received nothing but support and it’s helped with trying to produce a free event with little to no budget. They like that I have found my own way to create opportunities and live out my passions. I always wondered why I went through what I went through, but now I know and it brings me joy to hear people say that my stories helped them. It makes me smile when I receive an email saying that my blog post or event changed their life.