Creating a Fluid Lifestyle
Jamie Brown, Eller MBA ’04
By Liz Warren-Pederson
After completing her undergraduate degrees in political science and Spanish from Davidson College, Jamie Brown earned her master’s in marketing communications from the University of Southern California. “I started building websites,” she said, “but I didn’t really want to build them, I wanted to manage the team that was doing the building.”
An MBA was the answer to upping her leadership capacity: she entered the Eller MBA program. After graduation, she joined Snyder’s-Lance in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she worked in marketing on the Cape Cod Potato Chips and Lance brands.
“Before the MBA, I’d wanted to go into product management for consumer goods,” she said, “and that’s basically what I’m doing now, for myself.”
The career pivot came after she and her husband went backpacking in Europe. “He came back with the idea of opening up restaurants,” Brown said. She was up for the challenge: Brown comes from a long line of entrepreneurs. “My father was one, as was his father before him, and my great-grandfather,” she said. “So I always felt like I would become an entrepreneur.”
Now the couple owns and operates Crepe Cellar, a Euro-style gastropub, and Growlers Pourhouse, a beer bar, both in the NoDa (North Davidson) area of Charlotte. About that time, the couple also started a family. Brown remained active with the restaurants and joined an ad agency part-time, commitments that still gave her the freedom to explore other ventures. “I have the fluid lifestyle to do a bunch of things, and I’m loving it,” she explained. “I never get sick of anything, I maintain competency, and it also keeps my mind fresh.”
In August 2013, Brown and a partner launched a new company, Bea is for Business.
“The idea came to me when I was playing on the floor with my kids,” she said. “The name came first, Bea is for Business – Bea short for Beatrice, the character our series of books about a young entrepreneur.”
Brown did research and nothing similar was in the market. “I often come up with ideas, but this one didn’t go away, it wouldn’t leave me alone,” she said. She called a friend, Meg Seitz, and the two began collaborating. They started by self-publishing two books aimed at children ages five to nine. “For tweens and teens, Junior Achievement is an example of an organization helping bring business-savvy to the classroom,” she said. “But at an even younger age, kids are so open and uninhibited and haven’t been discouraged yet.”
To help foster that open spirit around business, she said, “What we are is an educational platform. We are a learning resource center that helps begin the conversation about business at home or in the classroom.
As they’ve continued to develop the platform, Brown said that she and Seitz have also keyed in on insights about business that they hadn’t initially appreciated. “One thing that comes to the forefront is that business allows kids to be whoever they already are – maybe that’s a dancer or a writer. The entrepreneurial mindset is a way of adding value in anyone’s life.”
Looking back, Brown said, “Every day, I’m grateful for my education at Eller. It opened my eyes to the big picture view of business and gave me the confidence to try my own things.”
Top photo courtesy Jamie Brown.