Four years ago, I heard about a brother and sister team that had started a T-shirt company called “Barack the Vote”. At that time, I was looking for a stylish T-shirt to wear that would highlight my support for presidential candidate Barack Obama.
I immediately ordered my t-shirt and l started researching to know more about Brandon and Lorielle Broussard, the brother and sister team who through their t-shirt idea, wanted to get Barack Obama elected, wished to see history happen and finally, had the drive to ultimately and successfully make their dream happen.
Here’s a screen shot of me, circa 2008, wearing one of their original “Barack the Vote” t-shirts. As you can clearly see in this photo, I have my mouth wide open with excitement, at Harlem Restaurant in Toronto. At that precise moment, it was just announced that Barack Obama had won the election (CTV news was filming live from Harlem.)
Fast-forward 4 years and the Broussard siblings are as dynamic as ever. This multi-talented and hard-working duo has launched a new series of Barack the Vote 2012 t-shirts and sweat shorts and pants.
If you’ve never heard of their webseries “Purple Stuff TV” www.purplestufftv.com, I encourage you to check it out; it’s an extremely funny web-based comedy series – think Chapelle show or In Living Color for today’s generation.
Also, some of you may even recognize Brandon for his appearance on the TV show “The Millionaire Matchmaker”.
Finally, it is my hope that their story inspires you to start or to continue to believe in your dreams and Create the life YOU ultimately want to live.
An interview with Brandon (Filmmaker and Entrepreneur) and Lorielle Broussard (designer / wardrobe Stylist & TV Producer) and co-creators of the Barack the Vote www.barackthevote.com
Brandon and Lorielle, where did you guys grow up?
Where do you currently live?
Los Angeles, CA
What was your course academically?
Brandon: Studied Political Science and French at Howard University
Lorielle: Studied Art w/s concentration in Fashion Design and French at Spelman College
Tell us about your career prior to your current position?
Brandon: I moved to LA to pursue a career in film and television. Worked my way from being an assistant on the show Eve (with rapper, Eve) then was accepted to the Bill Cosby fellowship writing program at USC. After that, I became a writer for Tyler Perry’s House of Payne at which time my sister and I came up with Barack the Vote.
Lorielle: I have been working as a Wardrobe Stylist since my sophomore year in college. I’ve been working off and on as a wardrobe stylist on tour with recording artists such as Bow Wow & Ciara since 2002. Then I moved to Atlanta then LA to further my career in Costume Design in TV and Film. I have worked on shows such as Law & Order: Los Angeles and currently ABC’s Body of Proof. While working in Atlanta on Tyler Perry’s House of Payne as an assistant in the Costume Department, my brother and I created Barack the Vote and the rest is history.
How did you guys come up with the “Barack the Vote” idea?
Brandon: I was watching a rally for Obama in Austin, about 20,000 people in the crowd and there was this little old lady holding a hand written sign that said “Barack the Vote” and I thought, how cool would it be to combine that slogan with the old Rock the Vote logo… I always imagined that it would look like someone had done graffiti on an old Rock the Vote poster which is what the current design looks like.
Lorielle: As my brother told you, it was his idea and he told me about it and wanted me to do the design for it. So I came up with a few designs that I thought looked how he had envisioned it being and we got some feedback from our family and a few friends in the design industry. And from there we decided on the original Barack the Vote logo that you see now!
What were some of the challenges you faced when you decided to open your business?
Brandon: Capital. We only had 700 dollars to start. Marketing, even though we had a good idea, we still had to work extremely hard to get people to know about it. The other thing is the pace at which the company grew. We went from 700 dollars to making over a million in a very short time and there is a huge learning curve when it comes to running a business successfully.
Lorielle: The biggest challenge was money of course. No one would invest; it was a risk even though everyone thought it was a great idea! So, that was the biggest challenge we faced immediately. Then it was marketing. We had to spend so much time and money on getting people to see our shirts, whether it be on TV, at a rally for President Obama, or online on a blog.
When did your business take off? What triggered it?
Brandon: Our business was doing about 1,000 dollars per month from August to December of 2007. In January, we did 30,000 dollars in sales and they just increased exponentially from there. Obama winning the Iowa caucus made everyone believe he could win and thus, increased our sales.
Lorielle: Our business went right along with the campaign, so the biggest trigger was the Iowa caucus. Once Barack Obama won that, everyone believed that he could actually win the election for President, thus they believed in us or at least our product!
What is it about your current occupation that you love?
Brandon: I love the creativity that goes into creating a business and making it successful.
Lorielle: I love being able to create something from nothing and see it grow into success!
I love fashion and everything about it. The creativity. I love the idea of being able to create looks from words or people’s ideas on paper, bringing them to life!
What inspires you?
Brandon: I’m inspired by the idea that you can do anything you put your mind to as is evidenced by our success with Barack the Vote. There’s nothing like dreaming, having a vision, then pursuing that vision and succeeding.
Lorielle: I’m inspired by the President, honestly, or his ideas. Hope. I love the idea of living the dream. Doing exactly what you set your mind to do and living it out! I do that everyday of my life and really try to figure out how I can succeed more in it every day.
What advice would you give someone wanting to change their path?
Brandon: I would say that God gave everyone a path in life and that if you’re not happy with what you’re doing, you’re probably not on it. It’s important to listen to your gut, your inner-self, God, whatever you want to call it… but if you feel like you are great at something then you should pursue. It’s cliche, but the only people who have regrets are the people who don’t try. You never hear someone waxing on about how they wished they hadn’t tried to start that T-shirt company, or pursued acting, or singing etc. When people have regrets, they’re talking about how they didn’t pursue those things.
Lorielle: I would say just follow your heart. If you really want to do something, I believe that God will create the pathway and you just have to walk it. Have faith over fear. That’s my motto.
Brandon, I know some of our readers saw you on “The Millionaire Matchmaker”, how was that experience for you? Are you still in touch with the lady you chose?
Jaclyn and I are still friends. We dated for about a month after the show but don’t date any longer. She’s a beautiful smart girl but we just didn’t mesh. She wanted to live in Chino Hills and play beer pong everyday which is cool every once in a while, but eh, it’s not for me. Just kidding. She’s great.
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