For years, Patientce Foster was the whiz publicity and branding strategist behind Cardi B, arguably one of the biggest female rappers in history. It would have been easy for Foster to get caught up in the hype of it all, booking big gigs and buying pricey items. But Foster wanted more, namely ownership. Why hustle to purchase a few Birkins when you can own a brand? Now, as the head boss babe in charge of Cream Labs, the entrepreneur is focused on wealth building, starting with her fashion brand, Suite XVI. “I wish to leave behind a legacy that is similar to a blueprint,” Foster tells EBONY. “I want a journey that can be referenced for any Black woman or Black man that wants a lifestyle with intention, purpose, and ambition that is free of limitations. I want to be remembered for being empowered to do whatever I chose to do and winning at it.”
Foster exclusively sat down with EBONY to discuss her evolution in the branding and entrepreneurship space.
EBONY: Representing Cardi B clearly changed your career trajectory. Tell us a about how it all began.
FOSTER: I started without a network because I come from a small city in Delaware. Everything I learned was self-taught was through researching, reading, watching other people on social media. It was very challenging because I never had a client before [Cardi B]. Prior to that, I was interning for a fashion PR company. That job gave me the ultimatum that I could either can continue my internship there, or I could take the job with her because they were afraid that by association people may think that they are in turn representing her.
EBONY: You clearly chose to take a chance. What were some of your challenges as a new publicist with a client making her debut?
FOSTER: The challenge [with Cardi B] was being able to secure press and opportunities without changing who she is. Those things made it very difficult, but also it’s what really fueled my fire. I’m just not a person that is easily swayed.
EBONY: What are some key tips and tricks for creating a compelling strategy for a client?
FOSTER: You have to be able to see it from how the artist wants their art to be translated and then how it’s best received [by an audience], which helps you build some layout or blueprint for how you should strategize.
You have to think “who’s my audience” and “who cares”. For those who do care, how do I effectively reach them? For those who don’t care, how do I change their minds? You can’t be in this type of space and do this type of work and be narrow-minded. You have to be honest with yourself, with your client, especially about expectations. You have to be honest with where their brand is, where their brand fits, who their audience is, who their audience isn’t. It’s just a matter of asking the right questions, understanding your audience, and being as open-minded as possible.
EBONY: How did you come to the decision to part ways with Cardi B as a client?
FOSTER: As you become more conscious of IP and equity and what that means, you begin to evaluate your choices. It became increasingly overwhelming and more difficult to accept that all of my invested time and energy, personal and professional sacrifices, resulted in no real equity or ownership.
Am I proud of what we’ve accomplished? Absolutely. Am I grateful for the opportunities and the tables I have seats at because of that and because of Cardi B? Beyond. She turned the lights on for me and the gratitude I have for her is infinite. There was no question. However, what is of the utmost importance to me right now at 31, as a Black woman, as a mother, as a partner, as a business owner is diversifying my assets.
I think that is why I felt empowered to walk away because I know the legacy I want to leave. I know that there are more things that I want to do, and I understand the power of owning my own identity and building within that.
EBONY: What made you launch Suite XVI?
FOSTER: About 83% of my followers are women. Many are beautiful, curvy, voluptuous women. I always get comments under my pictures about where I found my clothes, how I dress my body, and how I seem so confident in the clothes that I wear. I found myself always giving out advice and plugging in other brands. I figured why not create my own outlet for fashion and capitalize on that.
We’re taught to believe that the average body is a size four or six when the average body of a woman in America is a size 16— think of how much women who are a size four or six are catered to versus women who are a size 16. You design a dress in a size zero, and then you scale up; you think about us after the fact. Don’t tell me you think about me because you took a small and made it a 3X. That doesn’t mean it was made for me or made for my body, but it sounds great for your narrative. It just doesn’t look good on my body.
EBONY: What skills or strategy did you have to pivot to manage a brand?
FOSTER: When you’re dealing with an individual artist, your audience is hyper-focused because it’s already mapped out. You’re able to target that, whether it be in categories or outlets or a specific playlist. When you have a brand, you have to think more inclusive. The success of your clothing brand is going to be directly built on how inclusive you’ve made your brand, so your strategy is to include as many people as you possibly can.
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