culture

Liane Membis Tells Us What It Means to Be a BAUCE

Liane Membis

Online magazine BAUCE is a celebration of women of color and their entrepreneurial accomplishments. On her site founder Liane Membis profiles trailblazing women who have turned an idea into a successful business, even if the odds weren’t necessarily in their favor. The platform acknowledges that often women of color have to jump through many hurdles to reach their goals whether it’s underrepresentation, lack of access to funding, or simply not being able to tap into generational wealth like so many other of their business counterparts do. We spoke to Membis about why she developed BAUCE and all of the invaluable business and financial lessons she’s learned since launching her site.

What made you decide to found BAUCE?
Liane Membis: The idea of BAUCE came to me after I started blogging in college and began reflecting on my own goals in life. I had just moved to New York City and found myself surrounded by super ambitious women of color that were desperately trying to make it to the top in their respective industries. I noticed there was a sort of hunger that hung in the air, a hustler’s spirit that determined who would break through and who wouldn’t. You either have that fire in you to succeed or you don’t, you know? Those women, the ones that were chasing their dreams and financial success, were the ones I saw myself in. I grew up in an immigrant family so most of my path to success has been trying to figure things out for myself despite the obstacles and growing up with little to no money. I decided to create BAUCE to be a virtual manual sort of speak for the girl who is starting from the bottom and who wants to make it to the top.

Black women are founding businesses at higher rates than any other demographic, why do you think that is? And what are some obstacles they face?
The spirit of hustle is very natural to the black community because historically we have always had to “find a way” to make ends meet. If you think about it, our people weren’t always permitted access to the same schools, jobs, or opportunities as our counterparts so how else do we support ourselves? Through buying and selling or making and selling or bartering and trading. So the spirit of entrepreneurship runs in our blood. The biggest obstacle we face though is access to capital to scale our businesses or take them to the next level. Sometimes that capital is intellectual capital and sometimes it’s plain old cash. Some of us can’t get a bank loan because our credit is bad or get laughed out of boardrooms by investors that don’t care to back us. The conversation around this now is changing for the better, which is a good sign, but we still have a lot of work to do.

What I would love to see is a way for us to work better together so that we don’t need to look outside of our community to drive our businesses forwards, you get what I mean? I would love to see our community investing and supporting itself so we can truly thrive and prosper on a larger scale. But that requires a deeper and systematic change of thought — I’ll save that for a different interview!

BAUCE Magazine

Your site is focused on being self-made. What does self-made mean to you?
Being self-made simply means being able to take yourself from the bottom to the top despite the circumstances or challenges you encountered in life. Being self-made means you “did that, honey!” on your own without the help of mom and dad or a trust fund. And that’s no shame to anyone who is blessed enough to have their family’s support to achieve success. But at the end of the day, there are a lot of people out there who don’t have a financial cushion to fall back on and who are trying to build something for themselves with just grit, prayers and determination. That’s what self-made means to me.

What did you think of the ‘Kylie Jenner is self-made’ controversy?
I think Kylie Jenner should be applauded for her success and her ability to be the face of her own empire at a young age. She’s out here trying to make something of herself and that’s great. But she didn’t build her legacy on her own and to not give credit to the Kardashian family for as the foundation of her success would be ridiculous. That’s all I’ll say on that.

You’ve interviewed many incredibly financially savvy women, what are some of the best pieces of advice you’ve received?
Keep your funds high and your debts low. The biggest thing crippling most women of color right now is debt and poor credit. Some of us have exorbitant school loans and some of us suffer from high-interest credit card bills. If you want to be financially successful start by reducing your debt and investing your money in things that produce more money for you in the future. Also, remember that most of the things on this earth are material and fleeting. Building wealth is about long-term gratification, not short-term joy.

I read that you’re a full-stack developer, how does that play into your business? And what role does technology play in your business?
I am obsessed with websites so naturally being a developer plays a role in how I maintain baucemag.com. I’m always tweaking the site or working on new features that could improve the current site experience and reap more rewards for the brand in the long-term. Everything we do is digital and people typically find out about BAUCE via the internet first. So, technology plays a huge role in how people discover BAUCE; it also has its challenges in how we can make people feel. Sometimes there is a limit to how we can impact people through a computer screen which is why we seek to host offline events as well.

How did getting investors affect your business?
It was a blessing because it helped us test new strategies and find a way to scale from the “nobody knows us” stage to the “people find us and love us” stage. I am grateful for the cash injection that our investors provided to help us get to that stage in a quick way.

You probably have a huge to-do list every day. What do you do to focus? Do you have any tools/apps that are helpful?
Girl! The list is never ending but I swear by my Google calendar and mini-lists. Each day I tell myself that I must do at least one-thing for BAUCE each day to take things to the next level and I always try to cross one thing off, even if it’s as little as responding to an email or tweaking some code on the site. I think what is important in productivity is just knowing you are taking at least one step each day to reach your ultimate goal. I also suck sometimes at remembering things, so my Google calendar keeps me on point. Also, I work out. Exercise helps to sharpen my mind and keep me focused and ready for my day.

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