CLEVELAND — "A boss lady is somebody who boldly chooses her own direction. She gets stuff done, she often strays from the conventional path and blazes her own trail. She often works towards a higher purpose outside of her own personal success." - Maggie Sullivan, author of "Boss Ladies of CLE."
Brittany Benton says that being prepared has served her well this last year.
"It was one of those situations where they say, you know, stay ready so you don't have to get ready," Benton said of the events of 2020.
As the reckoning around race and equity took shape last summer, her Slavic Village store, Brittany’s Record Shop, saw unprecedented sales.
"The first four days of June, it eclipsed what I made all through all my sales channels in 2019 and it's been pretty steady since," Benton explained. "People were looking online for all types of black business owners to patronize and then, [it helped that in] the vinyl community were very close-knit."
Benton says that while she had to close her store for about five weeks at the start of the pandemic, her website sales have more than made up for the closure.
The recent success not lucky, but hard-earned - as the pandemic poses challenges for so many other aspects of the music industry.
"Although a lot of musicians have found more creative ways to share and promote their music, it's definitely impacted how they market it and promote it and reach out to the people and also how they make their money," Benton explained.
It's an industry she knows well. Brittany's musical talents extend as a producer and a beat maker... this Boss Lady also spins as DJ Red-I.
"I love music so you know it kind of turned into a lot of things but it all kind of came from you know the central place," Benton said of her many musical roles.
That love for music is the driving force behind her success. That...and her mom.
"She’s just an amazing woman and she still teaches me something every day." Benton said. "You know, a lot of people think I’m this confident independent person but I think that’s just something that I’ve picked up from my mother."
Brittany's space celebrating black music culture has also been a place to build community. She hopes to get back to that this spring -- with a brand new location for Brittany's Record Shop, in Glenville, in partnership with the ThirdSpace Action Lab.
"There's just so much history [in Glenville]," Benton said of her new neighborhood. "A lot of people think of just the Glenville Riots but there's so much beauty and soul and vibrance in the neighborhood."
It's a new beginning in a historic black neighborhood, that all connects back to a special piece of black history.
"Black music and the effect of the history of soul music and jazz and blues and rap - it's always kind of the genres are are demarcated by a social struggle," Benton said. "That's one thing I love about the music of my culture Like, we've been here as long as America's been America and our music is always there to tell the story."
Editor's note: the video in the player below is from a story published on Feb. 17, 2021.
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