We had the good fortune of connecting with Anika Ray and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Anika, what’s one piece of conventional advice that you disagree with?
Women should be groomed and limited to domestic roles as a lifelong goal. I absolutely don’t agree with this. Women should not be limited. However, I’ve found myself fighting society for not holding these beliefs since I’ve been able to speak.
I believe that women should be able to do anything that one desires. If one wants to be a chef, mom, mogul, teacher, or anything, please work hard and do it! I try to show support and empower women anytime and anywhere. Women that has provided this support to me, has allowed me to grow into the person I am today; a corporate entrepreneur and writer (for now lol). I promised myself I would carry out my passions and remain determined for myself and for those women.
Society may place many demands on girls at a young age, all to be groomed to hold a specific role in society, or to be generally accepted. I often asked why with no explanation, but met with readied responses. I asked why I couldn’t speak to a congregation. I remember being told as a child to try nursing instead, I wouldn’t want to be a doctor. I was laughed at when I mentioned I wanted to run a corporation one day. I was often told to calm my nature and tongue in order to be desirable and married by a wonderful man. I was trained to walk straight, to not write with my left hand, my hair should always be straightened, and so much more. This caused pressure and massive anxiety for me. The pressure always seeped in, for me to to always be the best, to be concerned with thoughts of myself, and how I may appear to others, all under my thick skin.
I was discouraged at a very early age for being a girl and outspoken. I grew up with many women, mixed teachings, from expressing myself at all times to holding my tongue. I was told to pick a job, quick. My mother encouraged college and to pursue what I wanted to do. I didn’t have support with a career, but college led me to film studies. Seeing my family members dreadful in the evenings coming home from work led me to starting a business.
I shared with my mother recently that as a child, I noticed she was happier when she worked for herself. She spent more time with me and she did more of the things she desired. I’ve wanted that same happiness for myself—to do the things I want to do as work and to be around my family when I wanted and needed to. I’m happy to say I’m at the beginning of that road for myself.
Taking care of myself, and finally learning to love myself helped me to conquer these adversities. I practice self-care at least weekly to remind myself of the love and support I deserve. I spend time to recharge myself because I need it. I’ve learned to change the things I don’t like. Happiness is something I love to feel, and I never forget to focus on daily, to attain, and spread.
I quit my job about 5 months ago in order to focus full-time on my luxury beauty brand, Brooke Blaze, and to write & review scripts. I’m finally able to have time to be close and travel to see family. I love what I’m doing now and I’m happy. I’m educating others about natural products and being healthy, providing fresh and organic products to the masses, and I’m able to naturally help others.
Let’s change the narrative for women. I encourage everyone to encourage women for their accomplishments and to keep going. History has set an unfortunate tone for this particular gender, but we can change that.
What should our readers know about your business?
I run a luxury beauty brand in Los Angeles called Brooke Blaze. We are hailed as the Self-Care Headquarters. We provide over 100 diverse items for beauty, wellness, and home. We pride ourselves in using minimal ingredients, vegan, and handcrafted.
Many products that are on store shelves are filled with chemical and artificial ingredients that may harm skin cells. I suffer from various skin issues like eczema, in which I have to be especially cautious on what goes on my skin and what I eat.
All my life I’ve studied natural remedies, and grew plants & botanicals with my family. I was always told to be cautious of items I use on and in my body. It was normal in my home to break a leaf from an aloe vera plant if I had a cut, or to use eucalyptus for a stuffy nose.
Natural products are growing, but not widely available or gives knowledge to their buyers about their products. By experiencing negative side effects from store-bought products, I decided to finally try making some products of my own just to provide some relief on my skin. In 2017, I created with bath bombs, body oil and lotion to use on my skin.
I started writing a business plan immediately and tried to launch a small business selling natural products, but I didn’t have time or the needed help to dedicate to the business. Finally at the end 2019, having more time, more finances and now a friend to help, I was able to redevelop and plan to launch Brooke Blaze.
Brooke Blaze actually launched in May 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was a very hard decision to make, as we did not want the pre-planning to go to waste, but also considering any business uncertainty. We decided to launch anyway, and the business has been successful ever since. Starting from 4 products to now over 100 products, we open up Brooke Blaze as a home to all for self-care. Our products are designed to provide convenience, and to be gentle enough to be used by many ethnicities. We promote diversity by our product lineups and variety we offer.
We’ve just celebrated our 1 Year of starting this past May 2021. During this course, I have also experienced many challenges. Waking up to stressful emails, supply chain issues and outages, shipping issues, having to expand my business due to demand, learning new systems, all while still trying to operate a business during a pandemic. But, I also have a background in luxury/tech retail and I’m used to working in a fast-paced, busy environment. So I recommend for anyone that wants to start a business to use your experiences and skills that you’ve gained in your previous and current jobs, and apply that to your business. Remember those “I wouldn’t run my business like that” thoughts you’ve had at work? Use those situations, change the workflow & outcome, and apply them to your business. Take the risks after thinking them through, and stay determined. There has been days where I wanted to quit and thought about shutting down my business because I didn’t think I’d make it through a situation, but I thought about those that didn’t give up on me, and looked at the work I’ve contributed so far, and that’s what makes me keep going. Last piece of advice? Just start the business. Sell to the smallest and nearest person you know and grow from there.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I have such a sweet tooth, I apologize in advance. I’m going to recommend some gems in the area to score some great treats.
Saffron & Rose
Southern Girl Desserts
Salt & Straw
And we can eat our treats on a beach that’s not so, crowded. Some of my favorite beaches near Los Angeles:
El Madator Beach
Rancho Palos Verdes Beach
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to my husband Thaddeus, and my mom Odessa. These two have been in my corner and continue to support me in any endeavors. I cherish them and love them both dearly.