Ignite Awards 2023 Honoree: Brandi J. Barrett

Meet Brandi

Brandi holds a B.A in English-Communications, Specializing in Public Relations, from Daemen University and has over ten years of experience in Small Business Banking. While running her new startup, she is currently the Commercial District Program Manager, at Broadway Fillmore Neighborhood Housing Services. Brandi says has witnessed and experienced disinvestment and understands the needs of the community.

Brandi.Honoree and Sara edited
Photo credit: TBC Photo

While having over 15 years of financial analysis and small business banking experience, it was personal challenge and circumstance that led to Brandi to pursue her current neighborhood development goals. When Brandi’s mother became terminally ill, she was also pregnant. She knew she needed to make decisions that would continue her family’s legacy for her daughter, so she began looking for real estate in and around the Fruit Belt to develop. After a few years of bumps and bruises and lessons learned in real estate, Brandi’s longtime friend and college roommate became her partner in business, they refer to it as B&B Development.

Barrett & Benitez Development LLC is a community based-women and minority owned real-estate development company, that embraces equitable built spaces in urban communities. Their mission as a development company is to empower people to build and grow beyond their expectations. What makes this company unique is the fact that they’re forming an imprint into the real estate development industry that offers empowerment instead of displacement. Their goal is to be the leading community developer. With extensive involvement in community organizations and tight relationships with residents of the East Side.

Brandi and friends 2
Photo credit: TBC Photo

Brandi’s current project, Loads of Love, is an innovative business idea of an eco-friendly laundry service that brings to Buffalo’s East Side a mixed-use, infill, affordable housing project anchored by a laundromat and café. It’s anticipated to include outdoor, community-based amenities, including a community garden and a gazebo.  Homey and warm, her innovative business is also practical, fulfilling basic, human needs that will circulate money in the East Side community, and contribute to an economic growth cycle. Her work was, and is, not without its challenges such as sourcing the necessary capital, communicating an eco-friendly service for a population typically not seen as environmentally aware, and persevering as a single mother head of household during economic disruptions such as work reductions, a global pandemic, inflation, and a racist massacre occurring less than one mile from her home.

As newbies to the real estate development market, their current largest obstacle is the amount of owner equity that’s needed for their current project. The increased costs of building materials post-COVID has truly been the most unexpected change as businesses owners. Loads of Love construction costs just 3 years ago was an estimated $800K and in today’s market, it’s closer to $3 million! Getting creative to make their vision a reality, she and her business partner have a crowdsourcing campaign, providing the opportunity for individuals to become investors as shareholders in the project. 

Brandi’s advice to a new business owner is to always be a student. Never think you know more than you do, surround yourself with people who are smarter than you, and lastly give it all to God.

Video credit: Buffalo Rising

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