Rhonda J. Lowe
Rhonda, first thank you for doing this interview with me to shed some light on your fantastic accomplishments, your goal, and your journey to took to get there.
Can you tell me about yourself, who is Rhonda J. Lowe?
My family (mother, father, and sister) resides back in my hometown of Buffalo, NY where I was born and raised. Hence my Public Relation (PR) firm being a play on my city and my last name, Lowe. I attended Fredrick Law Olmsted for the Gifted & Talented, from 2nd thru 8th grade, where I developed a keen sense of critical and analytical thinking; Bloom’s Taxonomy and logic puzzles were law there.
From there I graduated in June of 2001 and attended Lafayette HS freshman year, then transferred to Hutchinson Central Technical HS during the beginning of my sophomore year due to craving more of a challenge. Here I was forcibly enrolled in the Biochemistry program, due to my advanced grammar school curriculum at Olmsted and extensive background in science, and I took college-level classes such as AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Calculus, and AP English my junior and senior year.
I was an active member of the yearbook staff, where I was able to reconnect with one of my early childhood passions of photography, in addition to being active as a junior treasurer and more.
Graduating from Hutch Tech in June of 2005, reluctantly, I stayed in my hometown of Buffalo, NY and attended the University at Buffalo, in Amherst, NY for college. I was offered a scholarship through the Cora P. Maloney College, where I majored in Sociology, with a concentration in Legal Studies, in addition to Business. While bouncing between majors and enjoying some of the required communications classes that I was taking, I decided that since we didn’t have a Journalism degree program there, I would at least enroll in the Journalism Certificate Program, which truly intrigued me. This was single-handedly the best decision I made on my own during my college career. I have always been a “peculiar child,” in the words of my mother, and to this day, at age 31, now residing in Los Angeles, CA, that sentiment still holds very true.
How did you gain a passion for the businesses that you own?
Within the Journalism Certificate Program at the University of Buffalo in 2006, I began as a Staff Photographer for the student publication, The Spectrum, taking photos at events, general stock photos for the paper and more, I also took additional English and Ethics classes. After seeing the contributions that I was making with photography, my interest grew wider with the writing side of journalism. I was able to state my piece, bringing filtered, yet candid honesty to the newspaper, the broad potential audience, and the arts, specifically. I also had this strange obligation to myself to prove that Buffalo kids, born and raised, are just as competent as the students who traveled across the state, country and internationally to this school that I just so happened to be stuck at, because I so desperately wanted to move away for college at the time.
I gravitated to The Spectrum Arts Desk like a high-powered magnet to a refrigerator because of my original love of photography and music. The digital era of Napster, Bearshare, Limewire made me into an .mp3 monster with free wi-fi and late hours on campus. I reviewed new music releases, attended concerts, art gallery openings and exhibits, in addition to, attending local plays, movie premieres and writing reviews. I also interviewed musicians, performers and professors, not to mention the perks of the Arts Desk Staff didn’t hurt at all (free access to art events in theater, dance, fine art and more by way of an all-access press pass).
I went from photographer, to staff writer to editor over the course of two and a half years. In December of 2009, my passions and my frustrations grew simultaneously, and I decided to take a leave of absence from my studies, versus continuing to pursue a Sociology degree, when my heart was submersed in the Arts. My passion for my businesses BuffaLowe PR (2013) and Rhonda Jane (2016) are by-products of my very first brain-child, FlagrantCity.com. Flagrant City was the very first hip hop/culture blog in Buffalo, NY, launched in November of 2009, one month prior to me leaving the University at Buffalo, without completing my degree. This was a very bold move that I made, but I have absolutely no regrets from that day. I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t fulfilled, and I was attending college to uphold an image, based on the approval of my family, not exactly to make myself happy or feel accomplished. I felt alive and vibrant when working on and covering that of the arts related events. I was able to apply all the journalism techniques learned and tailoring them to fit my idea. This made me feel extremely accomplished and proud, no matter who didn’t understand it.
Here we are almost 9 years later, and my blog has evolved from being focused primarily on local hip-hop/music only to expanding far beyond the Buffalo borders. tapping into culture, fashion, arts, health & wellness, politics, events and pushing the status quo.
BuffaLowe PR specializes in strategic marketing and social media content management, press releases, media placement, promotional campaigns, and so much more. At the moment, Rhonda Jane is an online boutique where you can find apparel from the BuffaLowe and FlagrantCity.com brand entities, in addition to other unique and chic apparel and accessories! Rhonda Jane is currently morphing and evolving into its own powerhouse, stay tuned for what the future holds on that front!
Being a female leading the way, what obstacles have you faced in your line of business?
In my field of marketing, journalism and the age of social media, obstacles usually revolve around change and keeping up with the times. I also realize that I do not have a degree, however I have the direct hands-on experience that many jobs do require, so I must toot my horn a bit louder. I don’t look at it as a hindrance, if anything, it was liberating for me to go against the grain and societal norms, when you’re simply expected to fall in line without question, sometimes you must do things for you, no matter how that may look to others. I’d also say the male-dominated industry of media is often hard to be taken serious in. A woman with strong ideas and a strong sense of self always ruffles some feathers. I remain steadfast and unapologetic and I let my work and my drive speak for itself.
From Buffalo, NY to Los Angeles, CA, what is the market difference? What are the pros and cons of living in L.A. for your business marketing?
I grew tired of being the oddball in my hometown, in addition to those brutal winters. I told myself in my teens, that at some point, you deserve to live in California during your twenties. There’s pros and cons everywhere, no matter the city, state, province or country. Buffalo, NY at the time (2008-2010), the market for what I was doing was simply untapped; coordinating hip-hop events, hosting underground rap shows and blogging about amazing artists within the city that weren’t in the Artvoice at the time was just “weird” and unheard of. So, I set out and moved to the west coast in 2011. At age 24, I was the prime age for awakening and absorbing knowledge, in addition to that I no longer felt odd, but understood. I have an amazing office here in Downtown LA in the Fashion District, and a thriving entrepreneurial career. I couldn’t be happier with the calculated risks that I decided to take and continue to take over the course of my life.
Was rent and the cost of living back home cheaper and more convenient? Absolutely, but would I have grown to my fullest capacity remaining cold, unhappy, and unfulfilled there? Not at all. Sometimes the best decisions aren’t the easiest, but you always know what’s best for yourself!
What advice do you have for young women seeking to be an entrepreneur?
Be true to yourself, your heart, and remember your passions will always drive your focus. You may be working a part-time job to make ends meet, but if your brain is elsewhere the whole time, tap into that and make it work to your benefit. Something in me the other day resurrected my interest in real estate, so before the year is up, I’m making it a point to invest in another line of income via entrepreneurship by completing the required courses and hours for my California Real Estate license. It’s something I wanted to do back home in Buffalo, and now I feel the time is beyond perfect, why not?
Lastly, ask for advice, but ultimately realize your life is in your hands, every thought, every decision. I’d rather die knowing I went for it, than to know I never tried at all. Where’s the fun in “what if’s?” My ultimate goal is to be an old, lively, cultured woman with a million stories to tell, who will nod at the end of telling you a part of my life saying “Yes, I really did that.”
Rhonda, thank you so much for your time in sharing with us your journey to meet some of your goals. I support you 100%, Women with Goals support you 100%, and I can’t wait to see you thrive and I’m waiting for the Rhonda Jane news!