We had the good fortune of connecting with Breenae Washington and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Breenae, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
The thought process behind starting my own business stemmed from personal experiences that have significantly impacted the trajectory of my life. The STEAM Queens is a whimsical lifestyle brand centered around a young African American girl named Ivy who loves Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM). Ivy celebrates the importance of diversity in STEAM, and she hopes that by teaching girls how wonderful STEAM is, she can help them earn their crowns too. It gives girls, particularly black girls, the opportunity to see themselves represented in spaces they often feel they don’t belong. My business is the brand I wish I had when I was growing up.

Over the years, I have encountered many factors that explain why girls typically don’t gravitate toward STEM/STEAM concepts and careers. The influence of social norms, lack of relatable role models, and the context in which the content is presented are notable examples. For these reasons and many others, The STEAM Queens was carefully crafted to address and eliminate the common gaps that stifle the growth of diversity in STEAM. The continued existence of such disparities shines a bright light on the problems we seek to solve and demonstrates why brands like The STEAM Queens are so gravely needed.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My career has been a rewarding journey with many valuable lessons along the way. I graduated with my Engineering degree from the Missouri University of Science and Technology in 2012 and immediately transitioned into the workplace. I was green, and suffering from a bit of imposter syndrome, but what set me apart from others was my ability to ask the questions everyone else was afraid to and my eagerness to learn. Those qualities were celebrated at my company, and they helped me to quickly climb the corporate ladder while collecting invaluable experience along the way. In my tenure, I have been a project manager, systems analyst, release engineer, agile coach, scrum master, and product development manager, to name a few. Throughout my career, I am most proud of being fearless and taking educated risks. Every career move I have made was a calculated risk that required me to step outside of my comfort zone, but they all allowed me to grow tremendously. It wasn’t an easy journey, but looking back, I wouldn’t change anything about it. The hardest lessons were the most valuable. The biggest lesson I have learned is not to waste time waiting for an opportunity, instead, be intentional about what you want, and don’t be afraid to ask for it. I recall being thankful for being “given” an opportunity until I realized I had earned every opportunity I was afforded, and I deserved a seat at the table. If there isn’t enough room at the table for my seat, I will build my own. That is the mantra I use to manage my life and my brand.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my best friend was visiting the area and I wanted to show them the best time ever, I would plan an adventurous itinerary to show them all my favorite sports in the city. We’d start with getting our adrenaline pumping by zip lining at Go Ape. It’s a unique obstacle course that will leave us with tons of laughs and memories. Next, I’d take them to visit all the historic places in the city, like the City Museum, the famous St. Louis Zoo, and of course the Gateway Arch. The Arch is one of my favorite architectural structures, no matter how many times I visit it, it always leaves me in awe. Finally, we’d stop at The Selfie Room in Downtown St. Louis to capture some fierce pictures to document the visit before finishing with dinner and drinks at my favorite black-owned restaurant, Bait.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My success is because of my village! They encourage, inspire, correct, and celebrate me when I need it most. First and foremost, the ultimate shoutout starts with God. I am blessed in more ways than I can count, and I owe it all to him. Second, my Mother and Father are my biggest cheerleaders who have always prepared me to be fearless in the face of adversity because I knew I could fly beneath their wings. Finally, I have to shout out my niece Londynn, and my nephew Liam, who was the driving force behind my first children’s book, The STEAM Queens. Whenever I would get discouraged, stumbling through the self-publishing process, I would think about how a story like the one I was writing could have changed my life. Giving them a chance to see characters who look like them in the pages of my book motivated me to work harder. I dedicated my first book to them and a great deal of recognition for the success of my personal story.

Website: https://www.thesteamqueens.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thesteamqueens/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/breenae-washington-b74b3239/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheSTEAMQueens

Youtube: The STEAM Queens

Image Credits
Mena Darré Photography

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