How Letting Go of Your Past & Walking in Your Purpose Can Change Your Life
An Intimate Conversation with Our Founder & CEO, Bri’Ann Stephens
It’s so easy to allow our past experiences to define our future. We all do it. We allow our mistakes, our failures and our moments of misjudgment to determine who we are, and who we will become.
But what if we have it all wrong? What if each of us are truly innately created for greatness and our past mistakes and experiences are only distractions from our destiny?
Could it be that every individual placed on this earth has a purpose, one that is meant to inspire and impact those around us with our divine gifts and experiences?
Founder & CEO of Pink Productions, Bri’Ann Stephens, would say yes. She would probably shout it from the rooftops if she could. Her life is a testament to what can occur when we choose to let go of the limitations of our past.
Five years ago, she probably would’ve given you a glaring stare if you told her she would be a CEO of a women empowerment company. Yet, here she is today.
In a transparent interview with our CEO, she digs deep into the childhood experiences that molded her outlook on life, she opens up about the life changing experiences that led to where she is today and she gives us a peek into her plans for this year and beyond.
What was life like when you were a child growing up in your household?
Most times, young girls learn about sex during a sex education class or they are given “the talk” from their parents. Well, my first encounter with sex was watching porn at the age of six.
Growing up, I lived with my mom, her two sisters and their kids – my cousins. My mom gave birth to me at the age of 19, she was a single mom. Our mothers worked to make sure we were taken care of, so many times my older cousins were left in charge.
With no real authority, we basically did whatever we wanted. That was the time I was introduced to porn, watching it simply because that’s what all the older kids wanted to watch. I knew watching porn was something we had to keep a secret from our parents, but I never really knew why. The older kids told me keep it a secret, so I did.
I didn’t notice how being introduced to sex at a young age would have such a huge effect on me today.
My junior year of high school, I began to experiment with my sexuality. I had entertained the idea before, but never seriously. Once I began dating and being sexual with women, it was something I couldn’t stop... and I didn’t want to. I went from simply actively having sex with women to being in relationships.
It actually became my lifestyle. For about 8 years of my life, I considered myself a "lesbian.” I didn’t want to be with a man emotionally, the only thing a man could do for me was stimulate my body. Women were more appealing to my mind, so I latched onto women.
Once I graduated high school, I attended Lamar University. I began to take drugs consistently. I drank so much that I felt sick sober. I partied, smoked, drank, and popped countless amounts of pills.
I dropped out of LU after the first semester. I returned home and thought I would make a change in my life, but I didn’t. I continued the downward spiral from 2011 to 2015. The liquor intake increased, the drugs got stronger, and sex was more intense.
Around that time, I was completely lost. I found comfort in women, drugs, sex, and being “the fun girl.” Everyone loved me, so I didn’t think I was flawed. I knew my life wasn’t perfect, but I enjoyed the spontaneous thrill of not knowing what was going to happen next.
My life was always up and down. I was always moving into a new home, new school, making new friends, meeting new guys. Everything was always new. I loved new. I hated being understood, because I was never understood. I didn’t even understand myself.
However, I wanted clarity and I wanted to be happy. I wanted to be the woman God designed me to be. I knew continuing a life of conforming to my fleshly desires wasn’t the answer.
You’ve experienced some much growth in less than two years. At what moment did you realize things had to change in your life?
July 2015, due to circumstances, I was forced to move back home. Not only was I going through a break up but I had to deal with my parents.
I remember crying an endless amount of tears and asking others for advice about what I should do. My relationship with God was never as personal as it is today. At the time, it was more of a family practice.
After hitting rock bottom, I called my friend and her advice changed my life. Her advice was simple: "Stop asking others for advice." She told me to get to a quiet place and talk to God by myself, cry, fall to ground, do whatever I needed to do for me.
I was unsure if it would change anything, but I was desperate. For a month straight, I locked myself in my room, praying, reading my bible, painting, writing poetry, listening to gospel music until I found joy being alone.
My happiness was no longer dependent on people or things, because I had nothing. My happiest came from finding God which led me to finding myself.
In my Isolation, God showed me my true passion and purpose. I was always called to be a leader. I launched PinkProds.com January 2016.
What is the biggest lesson you've learned within the first year of starting Pink Productions?
The biggest lesson I've learned within the first year of starting Pink Productions is that everything (good or bad) can be a learning experience when you're following the will of God.
Things have happened that I did not like and things have happened that I did like. No matter what, I learned a lesson when I obeyed God. It is easy to sit and focus on what went wrong when things go wrong, I've learned to find the beauty in it all.
The beauty is the lesson. The beauty is the knowledge that comes from it all. Everything God does, he does it for a reason.
What is one thing that you were pleasantly surprised to see result from Pink Productions?
I was pleasantly surprised to see the support we received. December 2015, I reached out to 60 women and all but two accepted and agreed to be interviewed. I didn't promote Pink Prods as much as I could have and even still, our launched date received over 300 visits.
We shut down our site May 2016 and we received over 10,000 visitors once we returned. I was surprised with the love and support we received. We do not do what we do for the attention, we do it for the message. So I was pleasantly surprised with the results. It was in those moments that I knew people were paying attention and I knew we were the start of the change we wanted to see.
How has becoming a founder and business owner changed your outlook on life?
I find a way to lead in every situation. Similar to a body, everyone plays a different role and all roles are important for the body to function properly.
My outlook on life has changed from "self-focus" to "What can I do in order to lead in this area that I am in?" I try to set that tone no matter what I am doing.
You recently wrote an article about your past experiences as a party girl, do you ever have times when you want to look back and return to your old ways? If so, how do you combat that and if not, what keeps you so focused?
Yes, all of the time. I have friends who are still doing the things I am no longer doing and it is hard to say no to friends.
However, I know where God is taking me. I try to remember that what I am doing is bigger than me and my life is not my own. I know there are rewards when you remain steadfast. I just remind myself why I started and I remind myself of the life God has set out for me.
I also want to be an example for my friends. In order to motivate and to be an example to someone you have walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
As a founder and business owner, what advice do you have for new entrepreneurs hoping to make their mark in business?
Just do it. Most people spend months second guessing themselves. Whatever it is that is put on your heart to do, plan it out and execute. Do not second guess yourself and your business. Do not let the opinions of others sway your judgement. Pray about everything and let God give you the answers.
Every situation is a learning experience, so learn. Teach yourself every day. Study new things.
Something I do is write essays, I will choose a topic I know nothing about or a little about and I write essays about the topics to teach myself. Sometimes I even write essays about things I feel as though I know, you can never know too much.
Mimic those who are in the same field as you. "To know the road ahead, ask those coming back." Whoever it is you look up to and aspire to be, learn their story, their routines, their lessons and take from it what you need and leave what you do not need.
If you could peek into 2017, what would you hope to see is in store for Bri'Ann Stephens and Pink Productions?
I see myself being a philanthropist, life coach, mentor, and the Founder and CEO of a global company – Pink Productions. I see Pink Productions being extremely involved in the community and providing mentorship opportunities around the world. I see us being a huge team of women who are all inspired by the same mission.
Get to know Bri more by following her on Instagram, @briann.stephens, or on Twitter, @BriStephens_. You can even shoot her an email firstname.lastname@example.org