We had the good fortune of connecting with Alana and Samra Baumann and Michael and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alana and Samra, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Originally, we started SHE WELL READ as a hobby that bloomed from the merging of two of our ideas that we talked about after one of our sleepovers. Post graduation, we both wanted to find a community of women that we could relate to on an intellectual level and a group we could relate to after college. Initially the book club was Samra’s idea and Alana brought on the idea of creating it into a podcast. It was kind of weird fate that turned into SHE WELL READ. Once we got deeper into the podcast and realized it’s potential, we decided to switch gears and think of it more as a business. We have lots of ideas and are in the process of planning and organizing for them to come to fruition.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Samra- In my career, I am most proud of the work I’m doing within my Depop shop, Cross Dressin. Cross Dressin is a slow fashion shop that focuses on mending gently-used clothing and re-purposing thrift finds. I am very excited to continue to grow this platform, as well as educate my community on how to curate a sustainable wardrobe. This endeavor has come with its’ own set of unique challenges like figuring out how to most ethically run a business in fashion, how to make the biggest impact on social media, and how to communicate Cross Dressin’s values to our customer. I have learned so much about the technical side of sewing and photography throughout my journey running this business, and am sure I will be tackling even more in my future.
Alana- I currently work at BCBSAL as a Business Analyst 2 and love the work I do there. During my time in college, I was constantly in and out of internships with different companies. Those internships definitely helped shape my career today and of course were great networking opportunities. In my career and personal life, I’ve learned how important it is to stay true to yourself and to not underestimate your talent and skills. There have been many times where I was full of self doubt and had to remind myself that everything I had been working for prepared me for where I am today. No, it was not easy by any means; however, all of the struggles were worth it.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
The great thing about Birmingham is that there are so many hidden gems in the city. Food, fashion, and creativity is definitely thriving right now in our city. Some personal favorite spots of ours are The Ruby Sunshine, basic., The Little Professor Homewood, Lakeview (for bars and night life), Big Spoon Creamery, and so many more.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Alana- Of course I’d like to thank all the usual like friends and family. However, the people who nested the idea of creating our book club into a podcast were the ladies of My Favorite Murder (Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark) and Crime Junkies (Ashley Flowers and Brit Prawat). Each of their shows are so entertaining and made me see the badass women who are taking over the industry and I aspire our show to become a household name like theirs.
Samra- We could not be where we are today without the help of Mekenzi Essensoy, who has helped us brand SWR by creating our logo and more. Another person who has helped shape what SWR is today is Kem Muruako. Muruako was our producer in Season 1, when we were clueless about the podcasting game. The last person who deserves a shoutout in our story is Taylor Westmoreland. Westmoreland is an audio engineer and continues to help us create background music for the podcast, our theme song, and anything else we might need. These 3 individuals are tantamount to the success of SWR.
Facebook: SHE WELL READ
Other: Bookshop- https://bookshop.org/shop/shewellread
mallory barry photography desiree danielle