Brandy Saddler, 24, of Fineview, is, in a word, a hustler, baby. On any given day when she's not attending classes at Robert Morris University, you might find Saddler passing out her business card Downtown offering her services: job advocate, van driver and book retailer. On the side, she's planning and promoting events like the Mother's Day cabaret she hosted at the Shadow Lounge recently. You can't knock her hustle.
How would you sum up everything that you do?
Economic justice for minorities, preferably African Americans, for empowerment -- spiritually, politically and economically. Most of my efforts center around trying to influence African Americans to be empowered through their endeavors. Hopefully, that's a need that I can be able to fulfill.
So how does one become a job advocate?
I saw my niche in being able to help African Americans or minorities find jobs and job security. My biggest thing is helping us find jobs so that we can have momentum within the corporations. Once we have some money, then we can tackle political issues. With money and power and our different abilities, we can tip the scales a little and have people cater to our needs. We have the buying power; it's just we're not organized and structured enough. We don't come together for a common cause or common beliefs. And we usually go with politics first, but politics isn't the answer. If you don't have any money, no one will cater to you.
Do you nudge your clients more toward employment with corporate America or self-employment, like yourself?
Both. It depends on what they're working with and where their ambition lies. Sometimes it's best to get into corporate; that way you can gain the experience of others, at others' expense. They offer a lot more than what you may be able to provide yourself, like tuition reimbursement. I don't see jobs now being any more secure than they used to be.
You also drive for a living?
I call it "the Mothership." I saw a need because the buses are just horrible out here. Especially when it came close to them cutting services. There are people where I live that have to quit their jobs or can't take their kids to school because the buses suck; the jitneys or cabs are expensive. There are a lot of people who work in Robinson [Township] or at the airport, so I said for a designated price I can pick people up at a certain location, like a bus stop, and transport them, for a cheaper price. I got my van at an auction. It's an eight-passenger-seater. I strictly bought that van to make money. I saw a need. A lot of people get kicked out of their homes where I live, so I take the chairs out of the van and whatever people want me to haul, they can put it in there. If they help me take out the chairs, I'll knock off $5.
You talk about book retailing like it's your hardest hustle. Why?
A lot of people don't read. Some people may read [hip-hop] books. If they already got a habit [of reading] and focusing and imagining, then my whole means is getting people to read black empowerment, or political or economic-justice books. For instance, in When Stella Got Her Groove Back, [Stella] was a financial analyst. Well, I remember when I first read that. I was young. But it sparked an interest. I was like, "I never heard of nobody black with money like this." It's sort of sad that I was even limited to that type of mindset, but I wanted to see what [finance] was about. I thought, "Maybe I'll pick up a book that talks about the industry, and maybe I'll look into how much they make, and while I'm at it, look at a book in college preparation." Hopefully I can do the same thing with my clients. Maybe they're not there yet, but they'll at least have the habit down, and they'll be able to focus, and be able to imagine.
You have family here?
Yeah, it's pretty small. My mother. My dad died when I was 7. I have my granddad and uncles. My granddad is the closest to me, and he supports all of my endeavors. There are not a lot of people who share my vision, and I got to see who was my friend and who wasn't -- who supported me and who didn't. But my granddad helped me with money. I ran into so many obstacles: My computer broke, then my van broke down so all the money I would have to fund this would run low, so he would help me. Even if it was just running me around to get something. He supports me 100 percent, whatever I do. That makes me feel really proud.