Please introduce yourself and your business to our community.
Hi, my name is Lauren Denise Woods. I am an enthusiastic, fun-loving Southern girl born and raised in Alabama. I love life, and I love to communicate with people, so it wasn’t hard making my business PR and photography. I am the VP of Operations of BGrace Media and owner of L. Woods Photography. BGrace Media is a Public Relations and marketing firm in Birmingham, Alabama. We brand ourselves as creative transcultural storytellers that can reach every audience! We get people talking! When I’m not managing one of Expertise’s 2020 Best PR Firms in Birmingham, you can catch me behind my lens! What started off as a hobby has turned into L. Woods Photography. I love capturing memories that will last a lifetime.
At what point in your life did you realize your passion?
I knew early in life that I wanted a creative career. As a little girl, I remember telling my mom that I wanted to be an actress or a singer. I also recall always “photo-bombing” pictures when my dad had his camera. Though I had that desire early in life, I didn’t figure it out until my late twenties! In college, I was undeclared starting my Junior year. My advisor basically told me that I had procrastinated long enough, and it was time to make a decision. For some reason, I thought it would be fun to be a news reporter. Looking back on it, I chose a career that would get me on camera! Ironically, I ended up as a news producer instead, which is strictly behind the scenes.
My first news job allowed me to be so creative! I remember producing segments and really pushing the envelope. My directors would come to me asking questions regarding the setup for the show. I often implemented different ways to use graphics and showcase them in my newscast. I would always coordinate feature shows. We had high school bands; one time, we had Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. members to do a step tease. I had so much fun! Since I produced the morning show, all of this occurred before 7:00 AM! However, my next job was the complete opposite. Everything I loved about the previous job was non-existent as the second one. It was rough for me. I was unhappy so much that I decided to leave the industry altogether. I was 29 when I realized that I needed that creativeness back.
What did you learn about yourself in 2020?
I learned that my glass is truly half-full. It’s easy to look at things you don’t have or haven’t accomplished and questioned or second guess yourself. However, 2020 showed me that I am genuinely blessed.
What do you attribute to your success in life and business?
God! Without Him, I am nothing. He is the one making all things possible. I also attribute my success to my parents. They are very supportive, but keep it real at the same time! They tell me what I need to hear when I don’t want to hear it. They applaud my accomplishments while keeping me grounded. One thing my dad would always tell me growing up, “Lauren, your attitude determines your altitude in life.” I’m grateful to them both. They definitely put me on the path to success.
It is important for us to nurture a community of black women that share, learn, and thrive together. Please share a story of failure that taught you a valuable lesson.
For some reason, my dream job was to work at my alma mater, UAB. Go Blazers! After I left news, I just knew I would land a job there as a Communications Specialist. I applied; I applied again, and I applied again! I honestly lost count, but I know it was over 40 times that I submitted my resume for various positions. The rejection emails got to me. I did not understand how they wouldn’t even give me an interview. I had nearly seven years of experience where all I did was communicate to tens of thousands of people daily. I wrote the scripts the anchors read every morning. How could they think I am not qualified to write a press release? As an alumnus, I had access to the Career Center, so I got tips on how to spruce up my resume. However, that did not help either. I learned that no matter how hard you try to achieve something, if it’s not for you, it’s not for you.
At that moment, you may feel defeated, but you just have to shake yourself off and keep it moving! Had I gotten a job at UAB, I would have never found BGrace. I would have never gotten the experience to work at a Black-owned, female-owned business. I would have never been part of a culture that allows me to freely express my thoughts and ideas and act on them. A place where I can authentically be myself. So remember, what’s for you is for you! It’s okay to mope, but don’t mope for long! “Dust yourself off, stay the course. Your time is coming!
Please let us know the woman you were 5 years ago and who you’re becoming?
Five years ago, I was still trying to find my way in life. I had just moved back home, and little did I know, I started my last news job. I was very timid, a bit unsure of myself, and unsure of my career. What a difference five years makes! Now, I am becoming more confident and more lively both as a person and in my career. I love who I am, and I love that I am evolving into a better me.
What women in your life have been a source of inspiration?
Career-wise I have not been inspired by a woman I know. The women in my family have good jobs, but none were in my field. I can’t recall a time being inspired by someone who does what I do now.
Celebrate your wins! Brag, sis. What are you most proud of?
My biggest news accomplishment was being nominated for an EMMY in 2015! This occurred at my first news job, of course! When I was producing the absolute MOST out of those shows, my Executive Producer submitted one of my newscasts. I was so honored when I was selected as a nominee. At BGrace, my biggest accomplishment so far is my promotion! I began as a PR Specialist in January 2020. Less than six months later, I was promoted to VP of Operations, and we have gained several new clients -during a pandemic!
Quoting Audre Lorde, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Please share your self-care routine.
SLEEP! If working news didn’t teach me but one thing, it taught me to get my sleep! I worked overnights for nearly six years. I remember being so tired all the time. It felt like I could never get enough rest. One of the best things you can do to preserve yourself is to sleep. I try to be in bed before 10:00 PM. I wake up around 6:30 AM. My goal is to always sleep for eight hours, seven hours at the minimum. I promise your day will go so much better, and it will keep you looking youthful for years to come!
You are part of our melanin muse tribe. How can we help you on your journey
If you are a believer, keep me in your prayers! If you are looking for a PR/marketing firm, contact me! We get people talking beyond the Alabama state line! If you are in the Birmingham metro area and need a photographer, I’m here to capture your vision! You can always follow on social! A like and share go a long way. 🙂