Through A Cultural Lens
Interviews With Houston Businesses Who Are Pushing The Culture Forward Pt. 1
In honor of Beck&Call Hospitality’s 2nd Anniversary, we wanted to recognize some of Houston’s small businesses owners who are pushing the culture forward and learn more about their values and how they built a community. We are currently in the process of conducting interviews, so please come back to this page to see more updates!
Introduce yourself and what you do.
My name is Porshae’ Brown. I am a multi-million dollar producing real estate agent in Houston. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas. I left briefly to attend college at Texas Tech University, where I received my bachelor’s degree in media and communication. After college, I worked in advertising sales then transitioned into hospitality. While in hospitality sales, I brought in top producing corporate groups and leisure accounts such as Marriott and Hyatt. After being laid off in 2018, I sought out real estate. I’ve been a full-time realtor and entrepreneur since then and I haven’t looked back.
You’re a luxury listing agent, Airbnb host, and mom, how do you balance it all while continuing to produce high sale volumes?
Balancing life and work is and will always be a juggling act. Especially for an entrepreneur running a business and collecting additional streams of income along the way. I have to give all the credit to God and my wonderful support system. If it wasn’t for my strong belief and family, producing at a top level wouldn’t be as achievable.
Real estate is demanding and can easily be a 24 hour 7 days a week job in most cases. My number one priority is to be a mother to my beautiful daughter. Going into real estate, I knew my daughter was the reason why I had no choice but to learn how to become successful. Once I made my “why” my driving factor, the love for the business grew and so did my clientele.
Photos courtesy of Porshae’ Brown
Beck&Call has had the opportunity to attend one of your Art & Wine events, and it was a wonderful time! What is the process behind conceptualizing a cultural experience at one of your listings? Do you feel it helps build your community and attract more African American buyers and sellers?
I’ve always loved art and real estate. I got into art while attending Texas Tech and the city of Lubbock’s monthly art crawls. Once I made my way back to Houston, the museum district became one of my favorite destinations. When opportunities are presented where I’m able to merge the two worlds together, I try to create memorable experiences with local art curators such as Robert Hodge, whom curated the art displayed at our million dollar listing where we hosted a wine and art event you attended in January of this year. Showcasing local and in most cases black artists in a luxury real estate environment is a play on cross branding and marketing. It’s a win for both parties. Guests get to meet the artists, view new collections and pieces, all the while building a community within the art world and real estate. Art and artists are accessible along with real estate and the realtors that sell it. I want everyone to know you can obtain anything you want just by being within close proximity to others of like minds.
As you know, Beck&Call is planning to open a bed and breakfast within the city of Houston soon. Do you have any advice for African American business women looking to purchase a commercial property soon?
For any buyer, I’ll always suggest to weigh your financing options. As a minority owned business, there are so many resources out there to assist in the purchase and start up of any business. You can never apply to too many grants. Hiring a freelance grant writer would be a well paid expense as well. Commercial lenders are key resources into placing you in what you desire and can afford within your business’s budget. Oh and of course, finding the right real estate agent that can assist you throughout the entire process.
Vera Loo Presents
Introduce yourself and what you do.
Hiya, I’m Vera – the owner of Vera Loo Presents, a small soap shop offering soap and body care for the comfiest skin. I’m a creator, soap artisan, and lover of media and business.
In your story you mention your great-grandmother, Luescndie Jackson Jones from Mansfield, Louisiana, which means legacy and family are very important to you. Can you elaborate more on the story behind your signature BUTTAH BAR?
Yes, “Madea” as my family honors her. A Mother in rural Louisiana, doing everything from sharecropping and crafting clothes from flour sacks to crafting soap from scratch using herbs and botanicals found on the land, and being good with a shotgun! Ha! She was a no-nonsense goddess who lives on through each of us somehow, I believe.
Buttah Bar’s inspiration comes from recipes passed down to me through storytelling via my grandmother. As I discovered and began soapmaking, I shared it with my family – I learned that my great-grandmother would make soap for her children in rural Louisiana. I dived deeper and asked all the questions, and here we are. Making Buttah Bar for VLP feels like the stars aligning. I feel like I’m honoring her every time I craft soap, and I thank her often. Buttah Bar has evolved into what it is today, a gentle, soothing soap bar for sensitive and dry skin, but its foundation is simple recipes used decades ago for the elders of my family.
Photos courtesy of Vera Loo Presents
How important is incorporating legacy and tradition into your brand & products?
I think that true legacy is innovation, and tradition is transparency. As I build this brand and work to craft unique products, I infuse heritage by being intentional and enjoying myself. Enjoying the process as a young black businesswoman is revolutionary in and of itself. I will push as far as I can with my inheritances and discoveries along my journey. Sharing what I can along the way. You’ll feel this when using VLP’s products.
What has always resonated with me is how despite all opposition, Madea’s legacy is still this diverse group of children, grand, and great-grandchildren who have become some of Houston’s top educators, artists, business owners, and community contributors. I want to focus on being present and letting the future flawlessly align with God’s plan.
You’ve donated product and attended many pop-up events, how important is community to the Vera Loo brand? How do you continue to maintain and grow a community while also running the business?
Community is essential to the Vera Loo brand. Initially, I started creating for quirky black girls with sensitive skin like myself. Soaping was an outlet during a very dark time in my life too. So, I just created a brand that made me feel like I had this magical safe space to exist and escape—those who supported me early on were of the same community, and it grew from there.
The goal is to give back to causes and grassroots organizations doing the actual work in the community that resonates most authentically. So far, VLP has donated soap and body care to Youth Education, Domestic Violence, and LGBTQIA+ organizations. I am working to make these efforts more recurring, but growing and running a small business can become overwhelming. I balance by planning proactively and making sure I’m active in the community as a member first. You don’t know what’s needed unless you’re out in the community. Sometimes, the contribution isn’t a product. Often, small business owners can contribute by being an advocate or supporting local creatives, peers, initiatives, etc.