Carrie Murray aims to lift and support women in the workplace through the Business Relationship Alliance (BRA for short).
Carrie, who is also an educator, former founder and principal of a twice-gifted school in Los Angeles, worked her way up from a job in social work to helping children excel all the way to the top. She is also a Navy brat who keeps her family roots—which is a building block for her success— close to her.
Carrie shared her story with us at Professional WOMAN’s Magazine:
Professional WOMAN’s Magazine (PWM): You grew the BRA Network for Women from the ground up. Can you tell us your experience/challenge while building your company?
Carrie Murray (CM): The largest challenge at the beginning was prioritizing my time. I was building a brand based on networking and supporting female entrepreneurs, so while I was working on building my business, like building a website, setting up email funnels, creating marketing materials, I wasn’t working in my business by attending conferences, networking events, workshops, panels, etc. Figuring out how to work with BRA members while at the same time marketing for potential new members was a challenge. It wasn’t until I set up automation and passive income streams within the structure of my business that things started happening simultaneously. Once I had systems aligned and the foundation was solid enough to build upon, it freed up so much of my time to focus on my favorite part of my work—working directly with female entrepreneurs.
PWM: We love your goal of supporting women in the workplace through BRA. How do you hope to achieve this, and what progress have you seen so far?
CM: One way I support the women of BRA Network is to brag about them constantly; I’m like the soccer mom of female entrepreneurs. If I could wear all of their pictures on a button on my jacket lapel, I would. I am most proud of providing these professional women with a place where they are all featured, from architects to web designers. We have a vetted group of professional women that are ready to work with you and you can find them all in our BRA Network Directory.
What I didn’t necessarily anticipate was that they actually all started to hire each other. Many women within the network started to look to the directory for their hiring needs and it became a tenet of our organization early on – to look to hire within the network first.
PWM: We see you wanted to become a businesswoman at an early age. What drove you to that goal? Can you tell us more about what inspired you to start your own company?
CM: Helping and educating children has always been my passion. I love learning and wanted to help develop children as life-long learners. It wasn’t until grad school, when I was student teaching and broke that I started to make PJs by CJ (Carrie James then) from my apartment kitchen table. I made silk PJ pants and hosted PJ parties and sold them to my party guests. This was long before social media and the only way I marketed was by word of mouth and referrals. From that point on, I knew I wanted to be my own boss. It was when I opened my own private school for twice exceptional kids that I felt the need for community and to surround myself with like-minded women and I couldn’t find a network that was female-focused. So, I opted to throw a dinner party and include the women I met who were seeking the same thing; collaboration and not competition. It was at that dinner party that I noticed how the women were connecting, sharing knowledge and later hiring each other. They kept asking me to host another dinner party and seeing if they could invite a friend who was a graphic designer or an interior designer. When my home was filled with 20 women, that was when I realized there was something unique happening and clearly an opportunity here. That is how I founded the BRA Network.
PWM: What advice do you have for other women wanting to start their own businesses?
CM: Just because you build a following on Instagram does not mean you have a business. Social media, followers, likes and comments don’t mean a damn thing if you’re not leading your audience to a website to purchase something, and the fastest way to get that conversion is with an e-mail list. That’s how you make money–conversion. You want to convert faster? Then gather e-mails. The other side of that coin is if you aren’t active and consistently showing up on social media, you are missing out on the most economical way to market and advertise yourself, all for free.
PWM: Your father is a veteran. What value does being a Navy brat bring?
CM: The biggest value I think my dad instilled in me as a Navy brat is that five minutes early is actually being on time; on time is late; and five minutes late is left behind. I use this every day–I hate being late. I teach it to my children.
As a businesswoman, you never know what being five minutes late will cost you and you never know what positive impression you’ll be able to impart by being five minutes early. Maybe you’ll get to have a conversation with a key player in your field that you would have missed out on otherwise. You never know until you know!
For more info on BRA please visit bra-network.com
Photo credit: KATHY SCHUH