Entrepreneurship is the Bronner’s Family business, in addition to beauty and hair care.
There’s no business like the family business; especially when it dominates within its industry as the oldest self-owned African American company specializing in multicultural hair and beauty since 1947. In addition to its prestigious International Beauty Show, the Bronner Bros. Enterprise constitutes hair products: BB, African Royale, 4Naturals, Tropical Roots and NuExpressions product lines, ministry through Word of Faith Family Worship Cathedral and The Ark of Salvation, as well as media with Upscale Magazine. Rooted in history, the Bronner Bros. Enterprise and their International Beauty Show not only embodies an innovative touch to the beauty industry but also an example of entrepreneurship and maintaining African American consumerism within its community.
Introducing James Bronner, a 2nd-generation Bronner helping to orchestrate the 71-year legacy.
As the youngest second-generation of Bronner, James Bronner serves as an SVP, Show Director, Director of Technology, Board Member and part owner to the estimated 500 billion dollar company. Since the age of 5, he proved to be an entrepreneurial prodigy. Within his youth, James Bronner managed to serve as VP of Century Systems Inc. at the age of 14, then later becoming the youngest “five-star leader “ at Supralife International where he gained more than 800 sellers under him within a few months. Years after earning a degree in Computer Engineering from Georgia Tech, he also decided to become a minister and currently serves as the Youth Pastor of the Ark of Salvation in addition to his many other roles.
James Bronner proves just how multifaceted he is with his expansive history in entrepreneurship, leadership, and technology while simultaneously serving as an example for his family, and third-generation legacy to the Bronner Bros. Enterprise.
As a multifaceted entrepreneur, what is a key concept that you believe can make any business successful?
James Bronner: “I think you need to start with two core things that are essential to any business of any type. First, I think you need to be connected with the right people, having the right team. The second is to have a product or service with a clear advantage. Most spaces are crowded now. So you have to have a clear advantage that you could clearly explain to the consumer of why this is different, why this is unique, and why this is better.”
What is a character asset you believe every entrepreneur should and/or must have in order to be successful?
JB: “Every entrepreneur needs to be a constant learner. We’re in an age now where change is happening faster than ever. Even in our [beauty] industry. You used to be able to make a change in like every ten years and be good. Now, things change so fast. You could be the greatest today and outdated 6-months from now, if you don’t pay attention to the changing trends and look at the data. I would say you need to constantly read, stay aware of social media, and what’s going on in popular culture. Study data, get feedback and just constantly be learning and growing.”
What was a moment of failure that became one of the greatest lessons you’ve learned?
JB: “Even with innovation and change, you still to have to watch your budget and cash flow. For a lot of entrepreneurs, money can get tight. We’ve had seasons where we’ve done a lot of change and the budget may have gone higher than we intended. It can affect your cash flow in a negative way. So, I would say that’s one of the learning lessons. It’s just matching your cash flow with your rate of change and innovation.”
How are you able to balance everything and continue to evolve yourself and business simultaneously?
JB: “The main reason is that I had an example of balance. My father was a very holistic entrepreneur. He believed in not just having a strong business but having a strong family, a spiritual life, and strong health. So I saw that example in how he balanced it. I would say part of that principle is having that as part of my goals – the goal to be balanced. Not just business-oriented goals, but goals for each area of my life. Also, I set a balanced schedule. Instead of only scheduling business meetings and work stuff, I schedule a date with my wife every week, and schedule the quality time with my kids or schedule family vacations. I maintain those balanced goals and a balanced schedule. And if I don’t maintain balance then I don’t reach my goals. I make that a part of my goals so that I’ll stay focused on it and not just focused on money and business.”
On a general day, what does your average work day consist of?
JB: “I kind of have a personal principle to put God first. The first thing that I try to do when I wake up is actually pray and meditate. It’s really hard because statistics say that majority of Americans, the first thing they do is cut on their cellphone. I find that when you do that, there are so many distractions that come at you. So, I try to go and talk to God before I talk to anybody before I cut the cellphone on. That really sets the tone for my day. It allows me to deal with stress better,[and] to get a clearer vision for the business and my family. From there I will exercise and read, and then I am off to work. Normally I’d have a meeting or two, and I’d have a detailed to-do list of things that I must get done that day. Writing down what’s most important will make your day most productive, [and] it is a great tool for anyone. I would do it either before I go to bed or first thing in the morning after my regular routine activities. It keeps you focused and makes sure you’re progressing properly.”
Out of the many principles your father, Dr. Nathaniel H. Bronner, instilled in you and your siblings, which was your favorite, and why? Which has guided you the most success?
JB: “I would say the favorite is the one we heard the most. It was his priority system of God first, family second and business third. The one that has probably contributed to most his success would be he had a statement that no amount of public success could compensate for failure at home’. I think that has the most long-term success factor in it because we’re currently training the third generation. No matter how much we have in ourselves, if we don’t properly prepare them all for what we’ve built, [we] would be limited and [everything] would go in the grave with us. So because we’re investing heavily in the third generation, that will allow the company to go on for another one-hundred years and for our children to outdo us. I think that would be the most enduring principle that would lead to our long-term legacy success.”
What are your purpose and intention? What do you want your contribution of this life to be?
JB: “I would want my contribution of legacy to be first of all: an example of a godly, wise, well-balanced life. Then to leave the teachings, basically all of the principles that we were blessed to have growing up; [and] to be exposed to the area of business, family life, a spiritual life, and health. That balance is so hard to find nowadays. We had a rare exposure to some great men and women in society. So many people don’t have those examples and they’re not exposed to a lot of that wisdom and knowledge.”
“I would want one my greatest legacies to basically be a passing of those principles and knowledge. To have a person who was not exposed to this type of information growing up, to be able to read and have it at their disposal the wisdom in each one of those areas. To be able to help them have a successful: business, family, health, and a spiritual life, to pass down the wisdom that has been passed to us.”
What goes into providing high-quality beauty products and showcasing the largest and best multicultural beauty show globally?
JB: “We have to do a lot of planning. We have to have that great team that can execute the plans. Then to keep it growing and to keep it relevant, we have to pay attention to a lot of attendees’ feedback. We would do surveys and focus groups and just talk with people as they come to the show. Even talk to those that don’t come, to see why they aren’t coming. That feedback is, as someone once said, ‘the breakfast of champions’. A lot of times people don’t like to hear negative [feedback], but I like to hear both the positive and the negative because it causes me to improve.”
“I would say that helps us stay innovated also. We can hear what the people want, what’s benefiting them, and make sure that we stay current and always keep something that they want to come and see. When people’s money is tight, you have to have something [special] and something that’s really going to benefit their lives for them to make the sacrifice to travel and come.”
How has entertainment within the Bronner Bros. International Beauty Show evolved, and has technology played a significant role in its evolution? If so, how?
JB: “I would say the entertainment has evolved [for us]. We used to, up until the last three years, only have one type of event each evening. Now, we’ve evolved it into a combination. Like this time on Saturday, we have a comedy show and a concert. Then on Sunday, we have a school battle and a fashion show. So we’ve made it where if you like one type thing and not the other, we’ll always have something for everyone. The other way it has evolved is because of our audience, by just tracking the data our audience has gotten much younger. We have the majority of millennials now, but because of that, we had to make the entertainment, such as the music, more relative to that generation.”
“Now as far as technology, we have incorporated since I was the Director of Technology at the company. I have definitely done a lot with technology with the show since that was actually my training. I went to Georgia Tech in Computer Engineering. So we’ve incorporated technology a whole lot, even in the registration system. You can register from your cell phone. In our education platform, in our marketing strategy, for all of that has had a total revamp. The companies that come to get booths, all of that entire system has been totally revamped in the last three years. We have some of the most innovative systems of any of the shows in all of those areas because of my background, and being able to use my training to actually make the show technologically advanced.”
What is your favorite, or one of your favorite components of the Bronner Bros. International Beauty Show and what it provides?
JB: “The Hair Battle – I like the hair battle because I think it’s the epitome of creativity and production. So the contestants in that battle spend anywhere from ten to fifteen thousand dollars each, just on a fifteen-minute production. You’re going to see the ultimate creativity and see the ultimate production. The last hair battle we had, somebody rode in on a live camel. We had someone else hanging from the ceiling doing hair upside down. Stuff you wouldn’t see at any other show, you’ll see a grand presentation with stylists who are really at the top of their game. I think its world class and I think that’s one of the highlights.”
What would you say to someone attending (the Bronner Bros. International Beauty Show) for the first time?
JB: “Be prepared to be amazed. There’s no show like it on the earth. You’ll feel the electricity in the air, and you’ll see creativity like you’ve never seen before. So you’ll see hairstyles and fashion that you won’t see on the street or at engagements. It’ll be something new, innovative, and unique. And it’s the place where trends are set, so look out for something new.”
What do you see in the future for the Bonner Bros Enterprise? (Because I know you have some daughters.
JB: “In the third generation, it’s thirty in that generation and the majority is female. So we are already moving them into leadership. Even with some of my daughters, one of them is over the social media for the show, another is over the gift bags, and another is doing the praise and worship for the church service. So they’re already at a young age being trained and moving into leadership. People have seen over two generations what the Bronner Bros. can do, but be prepared to see what the Bronner Sisters can do next.”
Anything you would like to add and/or any last impressions you’d like to leave us and our readers with about you and your company?
JB: “We’ve added some new things. Again in hearing feedback from our people, we know that the natural hair movement has grown tremendously. Hearing that feedback and for those that want to do more in that space, we do have a natural hair movement panel. We brought in some leaders from that field for this panel. We brought in the owner of Mixed Chicks, Camille Rose, and the Bronner Bros. Natural Product Developer. This will be a unique opportunity for people who may want to start their own product line. To really hear these types of heavy hitters on one panel is going to be a unique opportunity, especially for females.”
“It’s three women that have really started innovative companies in that space; [attendees] will be able to ask questions live and really tap into the wisdom of those who are actually doing it. That’s one thing we’re excited about, as well as we have a newly expanded job fair. People can bring their resumes to the show and actually leave with a job. We will have many different changes that represent the beauty sector throughout the country that will be hiring there at the show. So, that’s something new. That you can not just come and enjoy the show, but you can actually change your career, move up, get a job or employ within the industry. Those are two exciting new features.”
Don’t miss out on more action.
Be sure to join in on the excitement and experience of the ever-growing legacy of the Bronner Bros. and their 71st Annual Bronner Bros. International Mid-Summer Beauty Show set for August 4-6, 2018. It’s not too late to purchase tickets to secure your spot in a moment of history. Head to bronnerbros.com for more information, and you can stay updated with everything Bronner by following them @BronnerBros via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat.