In the corporate world, she is referred to as RaQuita Weathers, but known to clients as Belle Rouge. The self-described “DIY business owner” met her husband at Louisiana State University, eleven years ago, and they are now parents to an adorable one-year-old son named Elijah. Becoming a business owner was easy for her because she knew she possessed great “people” skills making it a little less intimidating to market her products and services. The hardest decision the Vidalia, Louisiana native is having to face right now? Deciding the best time for her and her family to make the move to full-time entrepreneurship.
(Photo by Shots by Priiincesss)
What are some of your favorites?
My favorite color is red! I became a lifetime member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. in 2009 and everything I wear today typically winds up with a hint of red (rouge). Hence the name Belle Rouge, which is French for “Beautiful Red”. I’m a lover of the arts, especially music and dance. My favorite music genres are R&B, Neo-soul, and Hip Hop. Recently, my husband and I vacationed in Punta Cana for a wedding. It was both of our first time in the islands and we loved it!
As for fashion designers, I love wearing clothing from ASOS and Fashion Nova – when it’s not doing the most. Currently, I’ve been rocking Fenty beauty foundation, NARS “Starwoman” red lipstick, and the Crayon Case eyeshadow palettes. (They are soooo pigmented!) One of my favorite past time movies is “Love & Basketball” and I recently enjoyed “Nappily Ever After” since I’m going through a natural hair transition. Most of all, I love a great horror film…another great reason to sleep closer to my husband at night. 😊
What are your hobbies?
I love to dance, and chill with a great glass of red wine. I also enjoy creating graphics for my businesses, as well as serving as a business consultant to my close friends.
Where did you attend college and what did you study?
I went to Louisiana State University (LSU) for my undergraduate degree in Child & Family Studies with a minor in Business Administration. Immediately, upon graduation I started grad school at Philadelphia University for my Master’s in Business Administration.
What is your current profession?
By day, I am a Corporate Financial Analyst. Outside of my 9-5, I am the CEO of the Belle Rouge Company, LLC. BRC is comprised of Belle Rouge Dance and Belle Rouge Photography. My dance business was created for women looking to build their confidence in heels and dance. Recently, I started my photography business, Belle Rouge Photography in October 2018. It has been received highly in the community of black business women here in Atlanta, Georgia and it’s continuing to grow in a way that has exceeded my expectations.
How would you describe yourself?
I am the prime example of a DIY Business Owner. To this day, I still to do my own hair and make-up for shoots, and now even photograph some of my own sessions. I have a very bubbly/friendly personality. Most people I meet, usually feel like long-term friends after a brief conversation!
How do you prepare for your day?
I do my best to use my nights to get all the heavy lifting down for the following day. Whether prepping emails to send clients, getting edits done, thinking of my attire, what I plan to post online, etc. The list goes on. I have to also prepare my son for daycare the night before, so that when I wake up, it’s “go time”. Getting both of us ready in the morning is a juggling act, especially since I do not cut corners on doing my hair or makeup for the office. Presentation is everything!
What makes you LOL?
When my husband and twin sister send me funny IG videos throughout the day. A good meme is all it takes!
What is your favorite pump/heel designer and/or style?
I love a stylish pair of Christian Louboutin heels in either black or cream and love how sexy they look on my feet. For the style, I typically enjoy either a pointy toe pump or strappy sandal stiletto. I also love a great thigh-high stiletto boot!
Describe your personal style.
The lavish, chic, girl next door style. I am quick to dress in black with a pop of red accents, but also love fun colorful outfits for photos.
What are you currently listening to?
Currently, listening to the Photography Business School Podcast by Bryan Caporicci.
Share a quote or scripture you live by.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
What inspired Belle Rouge? Explain the name.
The name originated from my time in Philadelphia when I was preparing for a dance class performance. We each had to come up with creative names that fit our personalities. I fell in love with the name Belle Rouge because everyone I knew up there, referred to me as a “Southern Belle” and being from the Baton Rouge area, the B.R. initials were significant.
What did you do before starting your company?
Before starting my company, I used to focus my time and energy on being a Financial Analyst and wife. I always knew I would own my own business one day, but I was not sure of the vehicle (business type) that would lead to my success.
Was entrepreneurship a hard decision for you?
It was an easy decision for me to start a business. I knew I had great people skills, and that people were drawn to my personality which made it a little easier to market my product or services. The hardest decision I am facing right now is deciding the best time for me and my family to make the move to full-time entrepreneurship.
How has social media impacted, or even influenced, the development of your brand?
Social media has had a strong presence in my business, as it is a great way to have your work found and seen – mainly due to the fact that my potential clients are drawn to my work after finding it through hashtags or referral tags on various social media sites
What other tools/outlets do you use to promote your brand?
Outside of sponsored posts on Facebook or Instagram, I like to attend networking events to meet people face to face. Once they met me in person, I have a better chance at closing a sale and nurturing that relationship.
What are three skills you feel anyone must possess to operate a start-up?
Hunger, Passion, and Discipline. As an entrepreneur, you must have a hunger to make money for yourself and not settle for mediocrity by doing things the same as others in your field. One must be passionate about their product/service in order to convince others to buy into their business. Discipline is key to keep yourself from missing deadlines, following up with clients, managing a budget, and ultimately running a successful business.
What are some of the challenges you face daily in your business?
One of the main challenges today in my business is time management. Some days I feel like there is never enough time to handle all of my responsibilities in 24 hours. I do my best to not over-extend myself to clients without confirming my schedule, as well as my family’s schedule.
What do you love most about what you do?
I truly feel gratitude and joy when I see my client’s expression of “wow, that’s me!” in between our shoots when I show them a sneak peek. Just seeing them share my work on social media and crediting my good work, is an amazing feeling.
If you could tap your heels and be any place right now, where would it be?
I would be in my forever home in my new office setting up client invoices. Either that or back on a beach resort sunbathing on a private cabana.
What is your super-power?
Being a mother, wife, full-time corporate employee, and “serialpreneur” all at the same time. It’s a difficult power to manage but, I have a powerful support system around me to help manage the load.
What do you wish to accomplish with your platform?
I want women to have the empowering experience of feeling confident, fabulous, and like a powerhouse when they shoot with me. If I can inspire my clients to step out of their comfort zone and try something new, then my job has been fulfilled. Eventually, I want this platform to grow into something much bigger than myself to where I’ve made a positive change in someone else’s life.
Share with us some important lessons life has taught you?
Life has taught me to not be too giving too quickly. I started out as an avid people pleaser, who ultimately ended up burned by not seeing the return on my investments. So, today, I’m being more strategic about partnerships, building the right connections and charging my worth. For too long, I undersold my services and products to save others a coin here and there, but in the end, I was paying for that expense out of my own pocket. That way of thinking makes people think they can walk all over you or continue to abuse your value. So, my word of advice to fellow business owners is to be firm in your price in the beginning. If a person cannot pay your asking price, then they are not your customer. Learn how to weed through the bargain hunters versus the clients seeking quality and value.
Who has inspired you (past and present)?
I’m inspired by my grandmother who passed shortly after I started graduate school. She raised my sister and me most of our lives. As the backbone of our family, she was one of the strongest women I knew. Remembering her strong work ethic, keeps me striving to be everything she wanted me to be.
What advice would you offer to anyone wanting to get into the photography business?
Before starting your business, build a portfolio. You have to build a body of work that shows your skillset before charging others ridiculous prices. Doing events for free or headshots, gets your foot in the door like, “Hey, I’m here. Check out my work.” Also, discover your niche. It may take you shooting many different types of shoots before discovering what you enjoy most.
What is your hope for all women?
I want for every woman, with the desire to make a change in this world by running a business or following her dreams, has the ability to do so without question. I want every woman to have the freedom to be more than what is expected of them by society. Being a wife or mom, should not stop you from following your dreams or destiny.
What is one thing you learned in business in 2018?
In 2018, I learned to stop depending on others for validation about my ideas. Towards the end of the year, I started trusting my gut and put my skills to work. I also learned that I could be better at marketing. I learned that I used to come off very salesy on my dance business page which was a turnoff to a lot of potential clients. I thought that hiring someone to come in do the marketing for me was going to solve my problem, but it didn’t. People want to see more of the real me and they respond better to organic interaction. This year, my audience will get more of the real RaQuita through Instastories, Live Sessions, and more networking events. Lastly, but most importantly, not everyone is intended to go on your entrepreneurial journey with you. I repeat, “Not everyone is meant to go on this entrepreneurial journey with you.” You have to learn how to read people and know if they are helping you for the right reasons. Is it solely for personal gain? Are they helping you because they believe in what you’re doing? You have to ask yourself these questions in the beginning and trust their actions. Actions always speak louder than words.
Tell us about your upcoming event later this month.
On January 27th, I am hosting my first official photoshoot event as a photographer. I wanted to create an event separate from the typical headshot party. My goal was to create an experience outside of the average photography studio. I have the perfect location in Buckhead that oozes glamour and sophistication. I wanted to utilize a space that allowed my clients to be more in their element while capturing their photos. This event was created for the women who are serious about their brand, their business, and their image. Each client will receive up to three looks, a minimum of five edits per look, and amazing content for a great price. More information can be found at www.lifestylish.eventbrite.com.
Anything else you would like to share with us?
Another business venture I am proud to share with you all is my Women’s Empowerment brand that I co-founded, This is B.A.E. B.A.E. was created with by fellow business partners for the Bossed-up & Empowered Woman. We recently launched an accountability calendar filled with twelve different business owners located in the Atlanta area. I was able to showcase my graphic design skills with this product featuring headshots I captured of most of our sponsors. Each month represents a different business owner/industry and it serves as an accountability buddy as well with sections for notes, etc. Be sure to support and get your copy by going to www.thisisbae.com.
Lifestyle photos courtesy of Belle Rouge Photography