America gave me a second chance in life and my dreams

Interview with Lucy K Brown by Mike Landfair

I am pleased to talk with Lucy K Brown today, the initial interview in our series Influential African Women, Living and Working in America

Mike: Lucy you have packed such an eventful life into a young woman’s life. Can you share that history with our readers?

Lucy K Brown:

 

Thank you Mike for making me the inaugural interview.  I was born in Mombasa, the second largest city in Kenya. Kenya is a port city, located on the east coast of Africa, between Tanzania and Ethiopia on the Indian Ocean.

When I was about 3 years old my mother and father left for Germany to find jobs. They left me with my lovely Grandma (my mother’s mother), where we lived in a big house on a big land. She was Muslim so I had to become one also. I would go to the mosque, cover myself from head to toe and pray five times a day.

My Grandma, even though she could just stay at home because she had no need to work, still had a small business where she would sell traditional garments to women. I remember going with her to weddings and political parties and dressing up her clients with these beautiful garments we call lesso or kanga.

Mike: What was your life like in Mombasa?

Lucy K Brown:

My grandfather was the mayor of that city. We lived just like farmers. We had a cow, goats and chickens. We grew our own vegetables. I can’t remember when we ever had to go to the grocery store, I loved it! My Grandpa was financially stable, but was very stingy! So we did not have running water in our house and had to go outside to get water for cooking or taking shower, I remember having to carry water in a basket on my head.  As a kid that was a lot of fun because all the kids in the neighborhood did it too. If you were able to do so, you were talented. We also had to go far outside the woods if we had to use the bathroom, so I would have to take one of those scoops that you use to dig holes with me and go do my business!

Now that was one half of my life, in the other half I had to stay with my grandma (fathers side) when I was not in school.

She was a very, well known, Christian business woman and very successful. She helped a lot of people start their own business and found people jobs. She was the first woman in Kenya to start a Taxi business. Back then, women did not do that kind of business. Driving a taxi was a male-dominated kind of thing. She loved the business of real estate and owned a lot of land. She also loved taking me with her when she had business to handle. I remember admiring her and saying to myself that I would also have a big office like her one day and be a business woman.  Just like my other grandma, she was very religious, so I had to go to church with her. She actually was part owner of a church so she was very well respected. People loved her and even today people still talk about her about how she helped them.

So for my first chapter of my life, I was surrounded by two loving business women that inspired me to be who I am today.

Mike: When did you go to Germany?

Lucy K Brown:

When I was about eight, my mother and father decided to get me and moved me to Germany. Unfortunately at that time my parents had separated so I lived with my mom mostly but I was very close to my dad.

I had to learn to speak German and went to a German school. In Germany I started learning about racism. We did not have that in Kenya. I did not even know what the word nigger meant until I moved to Germany. I remember my dad one day sitting me down and teaching me about Nazis and how they look. He said to me that when I see one to just run! My first encounter with a Nazi was when I was about 12 years old. I was riding on my bicycle and these two bald headed guys with black boots were walking towards me. They stopped me and asked me if I wanted to go with them to the playground and they would give me candy. A thought just came thru my head and I remembered what my father told me about Nazis, luckily there were other people walking around and I just turned around and took off.

Mike: How were you treated in school?

Lucy K Brown:

In school kids would pick on me because I was black and the teachers did not defend me at all.

I became very insecure with myself and I hated my life.

Mike: What led to you to business beside your grandmas?

Lucy K Brown:

When I was growing up, I was not sure what I wanted to be. Everyone in my class had already picked their career path, but I just knew that I did not want to work for someone. So after graduating from high school, I started working at a restaurant. I loved it, because I got to deal with different people every day. My parents were not too happy about that, so I decided to make them happy and I went to college to study Graphic design and work as an intern, at Bosh, a Graphic design company. I kind of liked it, because I was able to be creative and let my mind run wild.  After 2 years I quit, so I never got a degree.

A Russian business man gave me the opportunity to open my own restaurant. I could not have been happier!  So here I was at 22 running a restaurant, working until 5am while my friends are out having a good time. But I loved every bit of it. That is when I knew that this is what I wanted to be, a business woman just like my grandmas. Unfortunately that business did not work out because of my lack of experience. It left me with $20k in debt! I had to go back to working in a restaurant and work to pay off my debt. I was devastated, I felt like my life was over.

Mike: How did you get to America?

Lucy K Brown:

So I went on with my life and one day when I was out with my friends, I met a an American guy that was in the military and stationed in Germany.

Mike: Ah, a man!

Lucy K Brown:

(Laughing) Yes. We started dating, I was in love but his tour ended and he had to go back to USA. We decided to have a long distance relationship. He asked me to visit him in Washington DC and of course I said yes. That would have been my first time visiting the US.

I remember when I landed at Dulles Airport and I saw a black police man I was amazed by that!

My boyfriend picked me up and we went out that night. I fell in love with Washington D.C. Coming from a little city Stuttgart to this? It was incredible, and for the first time in a long time I felt accepted. I felt like my skin color did not matter, I felt like that little girl in Kenya again. I decided that this is where I wanted to live! This is the country where I want to build my business and fulfill my dreams.

Mike:  Please describe your two businesses.

Lucy K Brown:

The first business I started is an event planning business called Red Copper Events. I started it four years ago on my own. I organize events for small business owners to connect and exchange ideas and services.

My second business is an online boutique where I sell the latest celebrity inspired Women clothing, shoes and accessories, worldwide; UK, Europe, USA and Africa

Mike: Beside your grandmas, who or what has been your biggest spiritual influence?

Lucy K Brown:

You are right, both of my Grandmothers and people like Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Joel Olseen, TD Jakes, and of course, Oprah.

Mike: Who or what has been your biggest artistic influence?

Lucy K Brown:

I’ve always admired successful business people like Donald Trump, Steve Jobs, Oprah, Walt Disney, etc.

Mike: Is America special?

Lucy K Brown:

Very; America gave me a second chance in life and my dreams to becoming a business woman.

Mike: Thank you Lucy, for an excellent interview.

You can follow Lucy K Brown at:

Facebook is: www.facebook.com/lucybrowncouture

Her websites: http://www.lucybrowncouture.com and shop.lucybrowncouture.com

Her personal FB: http://www.facebook.com/miz.brown.9

 

 

Mike Landfair
Mike is a professional writer and blogger with focus on culture, book reviews, politics, home decor, geology, economics and advice to expatriates. He was a stockbroker for almost 30 years, which enables him to communicate about financial topics in an easy to understand manner. He also has sales and marketing background and a degree in political science and economics. Recently, he published a book titled "Gold Rush," which outlines why he believes we are on the verge of a gold buying frenzy.

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