The Bronner Brothers International Beauty Show Mid-Summer is a show not to miss. Trade Show Manager Erika Respress is a powerful woman behind the magic that occurs here. Respress respects God, her family, and business. She is a perfect example of showing an individual how to start from the bottom and work themselves to the top. Respress is a true inspiration and continues to prosper throughout her life. She talks with ATM about her involvement in this summer’s event.
“God is first, my family is second, and business is third.” -Erika Respress
ATM: What’s your personal attraction and connection with hair?
ER: I connect it with beauty. We are catered to beauty working from the inside and out. The canvas is what everybody is seeing. When we paint on the canvas it is something very beautiful. I am connected to beautiful hair, skin, healthy nails, and everything that has to do with the body.
ATM: What brings you to keep working at the Bronner Bros?
ER: I love this brand. It operates in ways that are incorporated into my own personal life. God is first, my family is second, and business is third. This team works hard but we play even harder. We are always putting God first in the things we do. It feels and is a family business. This also includes the contractors.
ATM: Take us through a full day of challenges, happiness, serious moments of your job during this event.
ER: There are challenges each day. There was a comedy show that had no backline for the artist. This happened with only 45 minutes left. We were live on the show site. We had no backline of production scheduled. This was super chaotic. There has been comedians, concert artists, and beauty moguls who were stuck at the airport, their hotel, and in traffic. I’ve had to work through a tornado at the Georgia World Congress Center. People have been hurt on the exhibit floor and contractors have not shown up. Something always comes up in the office daily. There is always the last minute good and bad issues. We are always keeping our PR partners in the loop.
ATM: Expand on your favorite quote “In everything you do, always give 200% understanding that if you’re not achieving your goal, it’s time to change your audience.” Where do you give 200% in your life?
ER: I give 200% in my life with family, to God, and my skill. The clairvoyant to this is many people do not understand that you have to set a goal. Your goal necessarily does not have to change. You change the audience to reach the goal in the forefront. People get distracted once they do not meet their goal and this could be a realistic goal that could get met. They can tweak it a little. Also, change their audience that is viewed and gets targeted. I give 200% every day. You give your all and pray about it. I’ve had great success in this. It has always been in my favor.
ATM: Do you feel the attendees notice your hard work?
ER: I am sure if the tens of thousands of people are noticing anything. I am absolutely okay with this. If I get one person that comes to the beauty show and their life is changed, then I have done my job.
ATM: Was this your designated career field?
ER: It was not! I went to Clark Atlanta University with a Mass Communication degree and a concentration in Public Relations. The truth of the matter is that my strongest skill is not in writing. (Laughs). I am very blunt. I stumbled upon this job while in high school. My mother did not want me to attend summer camp. I had read every book under the sun. I found a job taking calls in the warehouse and doing customer service. Computers were just getting established and I happened to be great at it. I started the Bronner Brothers first registration system for the tickets. I became the registration manager at 17 and it just went from there. I literally started from the bottom.
ATM: I can see! Did you see the longevity of your hands on experience while working for the Bronner Brothers earlier in your years? Also, in your wildest dreams did you ever think you would be the Trade Show Manager?
ER: No. I wanted to own a company. I was always on the break of something new at the Bronner Brothers. I was helping them turn the curve. To be honest with you, five years turned into ten to fifteen to twenty. Sometimes I cannot believe it. I would not change it for anything. The Bronner Brothers have allowed me to become a great human being, a mother, a manager, and a friend. This company has strengthened my relationship with God. Also, this company has allowed me to stretch beyond my imagination and to inspire artist from all walks of life including people of color.
ATM: How have you woven your skills learned from Clark Atlanta University to do your job?
ER: I hired LA. I believe that proper people placement prevent problems. You prevent problems once having the proper people in place. I knew that this was not my strength even though I had a degree in Mass Communication and a concentration in Public Relations. I hire and empower great people to do their jobs.
ATM: How does working as the Trade Show Manager influence your managerial qualities?
ER: Working as the Trade Show Manager has put me in communication with a variety of nationalities. This has allowed me to expand my horizon and become a problem solver. This has taught me how to appreciate people of who they are and where they come from. This position has allowed me to accept things that were not quite my understanding. I am great at budget management.
ATM: Where did you receive these exquisite leadership role skills from?
ER: N.H Bronner Sr. I trained under him while young. I was his counterpart. He was absolutely the most impactful person in my life. He taught me how to become a leader and how to own it. He was really something special. He saw something in me that I did not see in myself. N.H Bronner Sr. was a mentor to Dr. King and others. He taught me that great leaders know how to follow. I am a great leader and this is because of him.
ATM: What kinds of passion do you see in the eyes of these young stylists and barbers?
ER: The millennial stylists are a lot different from the stylists that have been in the industry for a long time. These young hairstylists are hungry. They want instant fame instantly. We have to do things to motivate them. We want to keep their eyes on the Bronner Brothers. There is a lot of social media and cross promotion through other social handles. We want to help them get into their craft. They must understand how to operate in excellence and continue to educate themselves. You want people to receive you in your industry as well as the ones following you.
ATM: Have you noticed a growth in Atlanta’s hair industry since starting at the back end of the 20th century?
ER: Beauty is always turning. There is nothing new under the sun. Everything is coming back around. The black culture influences everything. We set standards for what the rest of the world will see here in Atlanta. Atlanta is great at reaching this and other people putting a spend on it. This is seen in the film, music, and television industry. Everything is influenced in black culture. Everything started here at the Bronner Brothers in Atlanta.
The Bronner Brothers family is constantly living up to their mission statement day to day. The Bronner family has been an avid support of charities including The American Cancer Society and CHOA’s AFLAC Center at Scottish Rite Hospital. The Bronner Brothers International Beauty Show is August 4-6, 2018.