Michiel Perry is the creator of the website Black Southern Belle. Her work with the lifestyle blog and subsequent Black Southern Belle Collective events have been featured in HGTV, Brides, The Today Show, Essence Magazine, Draper James and Black Enterprise to name a few.
Now, Perry is gearing up for the Charleston Black Southern Belle Collective, a lifestyle summit bringing together a curated network of brands and vendors for styled shoot workshops, motivational speeches and panel discussions. We chat with Perry to get to know more about her and the Charleston event happening this November.
Tell us about Michiel Perry. Who is she?
Michiel is a small town southern girl who loves antiquing, hanging out with her family, watching history documentaries and finding inspiration for all things related to the Black Southern Belle lifestyle. When I am not working, I am always searching for a new decor piece, especially chairs and china. You can never have enough chairs or china (although my husband likes to disagree on that last point). I also enjoy exploring any small town I can find. There is nothing more charming than a quaint southern town, especially if they have preserved their historic homes and live oak trees.
Where are you from? Where did you go to college? What did you study?
I am originally from Summerville, SC, the cutest town right outside of Charleston, SC, which happens be to be the home of sweet tea. I went to college at Howard University in Washington, D.C. I studied Political Science and Economics.
What did you do before you started the Black Southern Belle blog?
Before I started my blog, I worked for a lifestyle brand called Lillybee that made stylish collegiate and sorority footwear and accessories for woman. My role was the Director of Marketing. I managed our online marketing content, developed and launched our brand ambassadors as well as developed and implemented marketing for our licensing programs. I also managed our outreach to the blogging and influencer community.
Why did you want to start BSB?
I started Black Southern Belle because I saw the need. I was planning my wedding in Charleston, S.C. and decorating my first home in Bowie, M.D. I was looking for lifestyle inspiration that was uniquely Southern and uniquely African American at the same time. I searched high and low for well-styled southern inspiration that also showed African-American culture and had no luck. After searching for weeks on Google, I decided to look for the url www.blacksouthernbelle.com to purchase online and it was available. I decided to pursue it from that day forward.
Tell us about your day to day.
Every day is different but most days I wake up around 7 a.m. Unlike most entrepreneurs, I am not a morning person at all. Usually I start my day scouring social media for inspiration and likely reading a coffee table book or magazine while also checking my emails. The night before, I think about the three things I need to get done the next day, so I usually start with those task that morning. My mornings are mostly urgent items, editorial check ins and administrative tasks. By 2 p.m., I start to get antsy so I usually schedule calls from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. to check in a photo shoot, a sponsor or an event. From about 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., I think about long-term goals and overall strategy. I love digging in the weeds but it is also important for me to continuously reassess long term goals and plans for Black Southern Belle. When my husband arrives home, I try to remain unplugged aside from social media and emails. As he is very much so the yin to my yang and not a workaholic, he is great at making sure I take sometime to enjoy life outside of my business.
What has been the best thing about starting BSB?
Realizing how much my upbringing affects what I do on a day-to-day basis and seeing how many other people feel that same connection. Whenever I post something that is personal to me, I love seeing how many people connect with the same thing such as wearing slips under dresses to church or putting peanuts in a soda can for a snack. The smallest connections are always the deepest and keep me going when things get crazy.
What is the key to a great work/life balance?
Making sure you schedule time to see family and friends. I am all about getting my business done but also see it is just as important to spend time with my family. They are the ones who make it possible for me to grow my business and I want to at the very least spend time with them. Also, make sure you keep friends and family around you who will give you that mental health check you need. Most of my friends and family are not workaholics and I am so thankful to have them around me to get me a reality check when I need a break and to not take life so seriously.
Tell us about the Summit. What is it? Why did you start it? What do you hope the Summit accomplishes?
The Black Southern Belle Collective is a lifestyle summit bringing together a curated network of lifestyle brands and vendors interested in the Black Southern Belle demographic. This conference will include styled shoot workshops, keynote speakers, panels all with the southern creative in mind. Whether you are an interior design, wedding planner, design a fashion line or manage brand marketing, this conference will add to your network and your professional portfolio. We will be using all the images from the workshops for editorial features on Black Southern Belle as well as with our key media partners.
We started the Collective to connect a diverse network of southern creatives to the resources and tools they needed to grow their pre-existing businesses, especially with the Black Southern Belle demographic in mind.
Our goal is to connect you with the right network, enhance your skills in the lifestyle field and promote you and your brand to our business and media partners.
Who should attend the Summit?
Any creative entrepreneur who is looking to grow their business and take it to the next level. This conference is for a Southern entrepreneur who has been in business at least a year and wants to expand upon what they have started by building the right network in the South to help them grow specifically with diverse audiences and the Black Southern Belle in mind.
For more on the Black Southern Bell and Black Southern Belle Collective, visit the website.