Brittney Oliver is a Nashville-based career and lifestyle freelance writer and content strategist. Over the past three years, Brittney has built her platform, Lemons 2 Lemonade, to help young professionals turn their career obstacles around. Her platform is known for its networking mixers, which has brought over 2,000 professionals, entrepreneurs, and creatives together to turn life’s lemons into lemonade in NYC, Nashville, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Atlanta. Her mixers in particular have been supported by PayPal, BuzzFeed, Verizon, Bumble, Dove, CoverGirl, Jack Daniel’s, and Ciroc.
I actually met Brittney through one of her mixers in Chicago back in Fall 2019 and was so impressed with her story and what she was building with Lemons 2 Lemonade. I immediately signed up for her newsletter and followed her on all of her social channels, where we’ve been connecting ever since! We actually just wrapped up a #L2LChat, which you can find here.
While building Lemons 2 Lemonade, Brittney worked as a senior digital and email marketing manager while also being a contributing writer to Fast Company and ESSENCE. She has spoken on a variety of panels sharing her story of going on 100 interviews in an 8-month period to giving workshop-style presentations on how to build your brand and expertise. She keynoted LinkedIn’s first women of color conference in San Francisco in 2019 and Forbes recently listed her as one of “Nine Black Women Leaders Dedicated to Empowering Others.”
Brittney has a BA in Public Relations from Howard University. After living in NYC for seven years, Brittney recently returned to her hometown of Clarksville, TN to grow Lemons 2 Lemonade nationally. Get to know Brittney further in our interview below!
KN: Brittney, so great to have you a part of the Shine On series. Can you share a bit about your story and how you got to be where you are today in your career and with Lemons 2 Lemonade?
Brittney Oliver: After writing and sharing my story on how I went on over 100 interviews to try and gain an entry-level PR job, I realized I wasn’t alone in the difficult job search. There were many people who were in need of community and support as they navigated the challenges that come with career aspirations. I formed L2L to help create that. It started with a blog, then a newsletter and now I’ve added an in-person and virtual event series that has brought together 1,700 early to mid-level professionals.
KN: Incredible! I really enjoyed the mixer I was able to attend in Chicago that you partnered with LinkedIn on. I’m curious, how have you gone about building the Lemons 2 Lemonade brand while still working in the corporate world and freelancing? What rewards and challenges has it brought you?
BO: When I launched L2L, I was not fulfilled in my role. Up until that point, I had yet to find purpose or passion with the work that I was doing – until I founded L2L. From there, I vowed not to go to bed without working towards my dreams.
The challenges I faced were time management and burnout from working. I also freelanced to help fund L2L so that was added to the things that I was already committed to doing. In 2020 in particular, I found myself not able to pour into others. I had no advice or inspiring words to give. I had to learn that it is okay to give myself grace. I can’t be good for my audience if I’m not good to myself. So I decided to consume instead of being the person to always create. I needed people to pour into me. Once I did, the ideas started to flow again and the opportunities started to come my way.
The reward has always been seeing the impact. To hear that someone met a friend or was hired after attending a mixer meant the world to me. Whenever someone attended and asked when the next program was immediately put a smile on my face.
KN: Making an impact makes all the challenges and hardships worth it! What has been your biggest career lesson?
BO: My biggest lesson was the realization that my career will look different from everyone else’s. We each have our own paths. I really had to grasp that to let go of comparison and the feeling that I was not where I should be in life in terms of salary, title, or industry. Where I am was designed just for me. It’s up to me to make the best of it, to learn what I can from it, and be open to what comes from it.
KN: So true. The comparison trap is SO real and I know so many struggle with that. With everything you’ve done up until this point, what would you credit your success to?
BO: Support and resilience. My parents always supported me. They let me fly early on instead of holding me back and putting limits on the things I could achieve. Whenever I cried and wanted to return home during my time in college or early in my NYC post-graduate journey, they supported me by taking care of the things that I couldn’t. This gave me space to go for what I wanted. That helped me to be resilient. Not everyone has a parent who will pay your rent and other things while you try to find your place in the world. I’m grateful for that.
KN: Supportive parents are everything! I’m so happy you had them to lean on during those tough times. Can you share what gets you excited to wake up in the morning?
BO: Another day to try again. It’s another day to love and be loved.
KN: Simple but beautiful! Thank you for sharing that. So, the *Shine On* series features women who are inspiring and blazing their own trail in their career and life. Who inspires you and why?
BO: From a personal perspective, I’m always inspired by my mother. She’s the definition of Lemons 2 Lemonade. She does not give up or quit on herself. From a professional perspective, I’ve had the opportunity to engage with many amazing senior leaders through my contributing writer work and I’m inspired by their triumph. Any challenge you can name, they have overcome those obstacles with grace.
KN: Amazing. Given the state of the world that we are currently living in, what actions would you recommend for women who want to get involved and fight against racial inequality? What actions have you personally taken? I’d love to know!
BO: There are different ways you can be active, but first it starts with doing the right thing always and calling racism and inequality out when you see it. You don’t have to always march, but you can find organizations to volunteer for. You can hold your companies accountable for the racial equity commitments that were made last year. You can recommend and refer Black colleagues for opportunities. You can support Black businesses through gift-giving, meals, and contracting or vending with us.
KN: All great advice, I appreciate you providing those tips! If you had one piece of advice for fellow career women, what would it be?
BO: To remember that you are already equipped to make everything you need and want happen. You have what it takes.
KN: Yessss! So beyond true. I love that. Lipstick & Ink is all about encouraging women to make their mark on their lives, the lives of others, and on the world. What does “making your mark” mean to you?
BO: It means to leave a legacy. What will people say about you when you are not in the room? What will people say about you when you are no longer here?
KN: Great interpretation! Thanks, Brittney! Any parting thoughts or advice?
BO: Thank you for including me.
KN: Thank YOU! To learn more about Lemons 2 Lemonade or to connect with Brittney, you can find ways below!
- Learn More: www.brittneyoliver.com
- Get in Touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @lemons_2_lemonade
- Facebook: @L2Lemonade
- Twitter: @britt_s_0
Kelly Nash is a Chicago-based writer, career coach, speaker and founder of Lipstick & Ink®. She also works full-time in technology as a Senior Employee Engagement Manager at Salesforce and has over 12 years of digital marketing experience. Kelly has been featured in Thrive Global, Chicago Tribune, International Association of Women, General Assembly, Salesforce, and SheFactor. She’s fueled by black coffee, sunshine, a good ink pen, and a bold lip.