Grad Blends Family and Career

What does it take to be an entrepreneur, critically acclaimed author, celebrity makeup artist and mother of three?

Just ask Florida A&M alumna Brandi Mitchell, who has done all of this and more since her days on the “Hill.”

Mitchell’s book, “The Blended Family Survival Guide,” was coined “Book of the Week” on the nationally syndicated radio talk show “The Michael Baisden Show” on Feb. 23.

“It’s remarkable to get this type of platform, especially since the book hasn’t been out that long,” said Mitchell.

The book, released earlier this year, assists readers in understanding how a functional blended family exists, while not skating around taboo issues like premarital sex and single parenthood along with the challenges of marriage.

Mitchell said “The Blended Family Survival Guide” speaks to the diverse audience.

She also said the book is relatable to students.

“You have a lot of students at FAMU who are a part of blended families, have children or are thinking of marriage,” said the author and entrepreneur. “The book talks about these experiences and how it affects your life, even though we generally don’t think about these things when we’re college-aged.”

Mitchell began writing poetry at a young age and, in high school, was chosen to participate in an intensive writing program at the University of Michigan, not far from her hometown in Detroit.

A psychology student at FAMU by day and a cosmetologist-in-training at Lively Technical Institute by night, Mitchell said her experiences as a student shaped her success.

“The reason I think I’ve done so well is because of the psychology degree,” said Mitchell. “It really helps you to understand people and what drives them. You definitely need that type of training in the service industry.”

Mitchell added that her degree helped with writing “The Blended Family Survival Guide,” which she describes as “counseling in a book.”

Writing is not her only craft.

As an image consultant and celebrity makeup artist for 15 years, Mitchell has worked with high-profile clients like Steve Harvey, Eva Pigford and Chrisette Michele.

Aside from creating her own publishing company, Koris Pulishing, Mitchell gives speeches and hosts seminars on topics not limited to those discussed in her book.

Mitchell credits the success of her book, almost four years in the making, to “a quality degree from FAMU.”

“I always talk about FAMU and my experiences as a student. If you can make it in the ‘100,’ then you can make it anywhere,” Mitchell said of her experiences in the band and as a student.

Department of Psychology Chairwoman Huberta Jackson-Lowe said Mitchell’s accomplishment is substantial, particularly considering the book’s subject matter.

“The fact that she’s written this book on blended family survival is really a statement about the quality students we’ve been able to produce and she should definitely be commended,” said Jackson-Lowe. “We also need to recognize that this is a very critical issue for all families, as little research has been done on this topic.”

Mitchell’s enterprising approach to publishing her book is what she believes helped make her career successful.

“Always maximize every opportunity, never think that things can only happen one way,” Mitchell advised students who are still searching for a career path or thinking of starting a business. “When in college, we often think that we’ll just end up having one career. But, in today’s world, it’s important to…multi-task (and) step out of your element.”

Mitchell said her FAMU days were irreplaceable and the relationships she formed on campus will last her a lifetime.

“FAMU will always be a thread of who I am,” said Mitchell.