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Babes doing bits: Josanta Gray, Entrepreneur

As part of our Babes Doing Bits series, we want to showcase empowered women that are making huge waves in their industries. From music to business, we are all about women paving the way and making an impact in their field. This week we caught up with business owner and entrepreneur Josanta Gray to find out about her consulting firm, Grayscaled Media, and get a little advice on running a business.

Josanta Gray Q+A

Name:
Josanta Gray

Hometown:
Chicago, IL

Age:
30

Josanta Gray

Tell us a little bit about your business:

Grayscaled Media is a boutique consulting firm aimed at offering colourful solutions to some of the world’s most bleak branding problems. The company helps indie beauty brands scale via brand partnerships and retail distribution.

Why did you decide to start up on your own?

This business was created specifically to serve small business owners and indie brands who do not have any experience with brand partnerships and/or retail operations. We are a champion for these business owners who are often very naïve at the outset of working or negotiating with a major retailer, brand, or celebrity. We prevent them from being taken advantage of by advising them on appropriate tactics to implement, ensuring their success.

What are the 3 things you wish you’d known when setting up a business?

I wish I understood how equally liberating, lonely, and labour-intensive setting up a business can be. I love the comradery and security an office environment provides. I had a guaranteed pay check. I had work friends to constantly bounce ideas off of and chat with over lunch. As an entrepreneur, you’re often left to figure things out on your own. But, once you do, it’s very rewarding to look at a product you created or a project that you initiated and become overwhelmed with pride. And to be honest, I’m not completely alone. My fur babies are often sitting at my feet for moral support! Ha!

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“As an entrepreneur, you’re often left to figure things out on your own. But, once you do, it’s very rewarding to look at a product you created”

Josanta Gray

How did you gain the experience you needed to start your own business?

Grayscaled Media was born out of the white space I continuously saw throughout my professional experience! Prior to starting Grayscaled Media, I was the Chief Operating Officer of Beauty Bakerie Cosmetics Brand. In this role, I established policies to promote a cohesive company vision, and developed a comprehensive retail strategy that included launching in 350+ Ulta stores, Riley Rose, Sephora SEA, and Faces Beauty UAE. Prior to Beauty Bakerie, I worked as a Licensing Agent at Creative Artists Agency – Global Brands Group (CAA-GBG). Here, I was responsible for managing brand partnerships on behalf of Gabby Douglas, Daya by Zendaya, California Baby, and Vanderpump Home.

What’s your favourite project you have worked on & why?

About 4 years ago, I created a strategy that identified whitespace in the licensing industry specifically amongst popular black television shows. In this strategy document, I highlighted that the television show Power would be an obvious choice for our department to seek out opportunities for next. I was a huge fan of the show and knew exactly how we should execute it. Unfortunately, my recommendation fell on deaf ears as my superiors didn’t see the value.

However, last year via Graysaled Media, I was vindicated when one of my clients began working with the show on its first deal in beauty! We were invited to Madison Square Garden for the premiere of the final season and I was super proud of the products they created! It was an amazing moment that really helped validate my vision for this company!

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What’s the best and worst parts of working for yourself?

I absolutely LOVE working for myself. During the resurgence of Black Lives Matter back in June 2020 and the following buy black movement, I didn’t have to question if my colleagues around me were partaking in performative activism. I didn’t have to question if their private messages were coming from a place of solidarity or guilt. Currently, all of my clients are black-owned businesses therefore it felt amazing to be able to work with my community during a time when they needed me most.

“Currently, all of my clients are black-owned businesses therefore it felt amazing to be able to work with my community during a time when they needed me most.”

Josanta Gray

How has Covid affected your work life?

Unexpectedly, Covid has had a somewhat positive impact on my work. Now more than ever, people are exploring the possibilities of entrepreneurship by choice or by force if they were unfortunate enough to be laid off or furloughed during this time. With more people taking the time to seek out opportunities to create businesses for themselves, I’ve had more entrepreneurs request my services in helping them identify whitespace in their industry and/or help them get their businesses off the ground. 

What’s your boss babe mantra?

My clients call me the Olivia Pope of beauty because everything I touch gets handled!

Fashion Talk with Josanta Gray

What should you wear to an interview?
For an in person interview, I’m all about a cute high-waisted dress pant with a matching top.

Take a little inspo from Josanta, with high-waisted trousers…

How can you express your personality whilst still dressing business appropriate?

I’m an accessories girl! I may wear neutral colours in an interview, however my purses and shoes always have a nice pop of colour. Statement pieces like these can be a great conversation starter.

What outfit makes you feel most confident when you meet clients?

These days I’m meeting clients in sweatpants via Zoom, but normally I’d wear high-waisted pants and a cute shirt.

How should you dress for a video interview?

Always make sure you have appropriate attire on! Be careful of wearing a nice shirt and sweatpants on a video interview just in case your phone/computer falls off the table. Then the viewer will have seen everything!