Be Brava: An Interview With Entrepreneur, Storm Tyler
Contributed By: Ashley Erickson
Storm Tyler is the creator of Be Brava, an up-and-coming organization whose purpose is to provide a space for women of color in STEM. Currently displayed on Facebook and Instagram, Tyler hopes to launch Be Brava’s official website by the end of the year and begin empowering women on a larger scale.
I sat down to talk with Storm who is a fellow Honors College student at Texas State University. As a part of the Honors program, we have to complete a thesis which is a topic of interest that is worked on throughout a semester and is often displayed in the form of a paper. Storm interviewed three women entrepreneurs for her thesis and shared how they have influenced her both professionally and personally. Our discussion ranged from topics covering inadequate opportunities for women of color in tech spaces to the the biggest challenge that face girls, today.
Who is Storm Tyler? What do you do?
I am a sister, student, traveler, explorer, learner, and entrepreneur. I just graduated from Texas State University with a Bachelors in International Studies with a Minor in Fashion Merchandising and I am currently working towards my Masters in Digital media at Texas State university.
What is your organization’s name and purpose?
It is called Be Brava, initially people think of brave and that’s cool and amazing because I want women to be brave, but it also means an acclaim and a celebration. Women of color in tech spaces began from my undergrad honors thesis. I am in digital media now because I want to be at the forefront of technology to provide a more equitable, inclusive world really for women of color and other marginalized groups. Tech and entrepreneurs really interested me and I had worked for a lot of wonderful women in my undergrad.
What kind of women did you work for in your undergrad?
Women entrepreneurs, like Amy Levin from College Fashionista (1). She provides a platform for those who are interested in fashion and for those interested in journalism, becoming editors, doing PR, and marketing internships as well.
Sienna Brown was the very first woman that said she saw something in me and it started from there. She has her own company in Spain called, Las Morenas de España (2). I asked her on her social media what I could do to get involved because I had just returned from Spain and I was very interested in helping out in any way possible. At first I was just doing style pieces and utilizing my minor in fashion merchandising to take pictures of Spanish women while I was in Spain. The company started with three people and has grown a lot since. I got into Strategic Global Partnerships PR when trying to contact other people to support the company, and I loved it; I really found my niche. I loved reaching out to other women and providing them services. I still talk to the women and we share resources. Sienna was a good mentor and friend to me, she gave me the confidence to want to pursue my own endeavors.
Brionna Rodriguez is the lead digital designer at Sesame Street and she constructed the website and app for them. She is the big sister that I have always wanted! Additionally, she has her own website called zenfullie.com which is a collection of videos, stories, and images (3). She also has a documentary about women called #minus the doubt that you can view online as well (4).
Wow, you have some serious networks, how did you do that?
Girl, well I guess I am fearless! I just reached out to them because I mainly want to learn. And I think a lot of companies and individuals want to pass on their knowledge. I tell my students to email them! It might take a month or a year but something will definitely happen. I wanted to gain a lot of knowledge, and learn from them. I have been so fortunate to be able to work for them.
Tell us more about Be Brava.
It is a tech, more STEM oriented resource for women. It started with my Honors College thesis where I Interviewed three women who were thriving in the tech field. I was surrounded by all of these amazing women and it come from recognizing that we, women of color, don’t have the platform that we deserve. Certain media outlets aren’t going to showcase this, so, [I thought] let’s present these women of color doing great work.
So that’s where it came from, it was a 16 month process just trying to figure out the idea. While doing research, there were about 2-3 other directions I almost took, one was looking at women of color entrepreneurs and the lack of venture capital funding. This interested me as well because I am an entrepreneur and so it was disheartening to learn that 80% of new business are created by black and latino women, but we are only receiving 0.2% of funding from major investors. So, only 1 to 2 million goes into these companies according to Digital Undivided which is an accelerated program that accepts black and latino women for new businesses (5). It’s incredible that women of color are at the forefront of these new businesses but aren’t receiving adequate funding to be successful. That was an interesting finding for me. So, Be Brava was started to highlight these women doing amazing things because they deserve the credit that they aren’t getting.
They also have amazing stories to tell and share that could influence and inspire other women to go out and pursue their own dreams; go after what they want. Stories like navigating the workplace as women of color and telling their experiences like, “Have [you] ever faced any kind of discrimination? What advice would [you] give? How do [you] deal with self-doubt, self inadequacy, imposter syndrome?,” etc.
Can you explain the imposter syndrome?
It is something I deal with a lot, especially while doing my honors thesis. It’s that constant questioning of “Why are these beautiful things happening to me?” or “I am undeserving of my life”, you know? I come from a single parent household so I would say, “It’s not fair that I am getting these opportunities and the people back home aren’t getting the same thing as me.” It eats you alive, the self-doubt eats at you. This is common with a lot of women of color, especially first generations and people coming from a low income background. So, I was really interested in what they had to say in that as well.
What do you hope to accomplish/ future goals?
So, throughout undergrad, I have always known that I wanted to create a company or a foundation for other women. I had a scholarship to travel abroad and that has been a big component in my undergrad; traveling. But traveling isn’t always affordable. So, I want to create a travel fund for women to be able to study abroad in their field of choice, whatever their study of interest is it doesn’t matter, I just want them to get to study abroad and see the world. It is important. I also want to do a conference or retreat for college women. I was talking to my friend the other day and I was like, there really isn’t a retreat for college women to go away for a weekend to go destress and relax because I think that is something that we can get going immediately. Especially because we are working so hard, we need a space to do yoga, relax, color, etc.
Right now, Be Brava is under rebranding because, as much as I love the tech industry, I also want to broaden the scope of my platform. Not just a women in tech resource, I want to help out the college women community and connect them to resources because there are a lot of opportunities. Additionally, I want to still feature women in business and tech so I am working on to see where that takes me. I can still expand, regardless of the field they are in, on still inspiring to thousands of women. I just want to create a community that empowers women, focus less on competition; we don’t have to eat each other alive to thrive out here, we can all feast. I get it though, I’m a twin so there is competition everyday!
What was your middle school self like?
Middle school me was very self-conscious, puberty hit me like a truck! I’ve always been playing sports, basketball, softball, tennis but I shot up. I was 5’7 and had curves, I was very ashamed of my body. It was tough, my middle school was rough too, there was a lot of violence. That was middle school and we are always trying to get through, but I was focused, even back then. I started band and found a love for music and learned that I am a musician through and through. My mom encouraged me to go into pre-AP classes, but I also struggled with math a lot and my self confidence was rooted in excelling in standardized exams. It was like my self-worth was placed in being able to pass these exams, even though I knew I was intelligent, it was still defeating. Thankfully, I had great teachers; my 6th grade history teacher was phenomenal and my 8th grade band teacher was amazing.
If you could tell yourself anything what would it be?
It took 10 years for me to get to this point so it’s not an overnight fix but, I would say to be unapologetic in who I am and not have the feeling of self-inadequacy due to my body or my exam scores and to be proud and confident. That in time, everything will work out and you’ll love who you are. But, things are so different now because there is an abundance of social media and I am so terrified because it can be a bit more challenging to escape those ideas of self-doubt.
When do you hope to launch Be Brava?
I want my website to be up for the end of this year and to be a source where women can go and feel like there is a space for them. To let women know that there are women like them and a community for them. I want them to find resources where, despite demographic qualifiers, they can thrive.
Where did you first hear about GEN, what do you think of us?
I heard about GEN through BossBabesATX, I love that platform. I am here for GEN! I love that you target younger women, especially a demographic that needs these programs. I appreciate the work GEN does, it would have been something I could have definitely used in middle school.
What do you think is the biggest challenge that girls are facing today?
I would definitely have to go back to self-doubt and self-inadequacy. Knowing what we have to go through on a daily basis, having to overcome the voice in your head that says you are “not capable”, “of worth”, that, “you can’t do this.” I think about how many women can’t overcome that and how much talent and power is being wasted over self-doubt, I think that’s the biggest issue, and I struggle with that myself on a daily basis. But, having daily affirmations, talking to other women, just knowing that I am not alone really does help. It’s a constant struggle, but you have to tell that voice to quiet down.
Check out her Honors Thesis here: https://digital.library.txstate.edu/handle/10877/6149