generate $80 million in sales revenues for the company.
“We’re changing the fabric of lives through homeownership,” Jones says. “But the one thing that I’m most proud of out of everything that we’ve accomplished is the fact that we’ve stayed together, because partnership is not easy. There are times when we’re [upset] and we have to leave the conference room or the office to cool down, but at the end of the day we depend on each other’s effort, diligence, and commitment to seeing these projects through to completion.”
LIGHTS, CAMERA … ACTION
While standing on the front porch of her new Atlanta office peering at the Hyatt Hotel across the street, Tracey Baker-Simmons was struck with an idea for her production company, B2 Entertainment: to create a reality show that chronicled the life of ’80s R&B artist Bobby Brown.
Despite Brown’s brushes with the law — or maybe because of them — it seemed to be a good idea. Brown and Whitney Houston lived in Atlanta at the time. Both were always in the news, and the two had spent a lot of time at the Hyatt. Plus, the reality show craze was far from simmering down. And Baker-Simmons, 39, and her partner Wanda Shelley, 37, were looking for a way to gain entry to the television arena. Even though Brown’s attorneys said it couldn’t be done, these partners believed that it could.
“Wanda said, ‘Let’s use six degrees of separation to get to him.’” remembers Baker-Simmons, CEO and executive producer. “Wanda is from Atlanta and she knows a lot of people, so she got on the phone.” A call to Brown’s spiritual adviser landed them a meeting with the artist’s brother Tommy in 2004. Luckily, Tommy was already familiar with Baker-Simmons’ work as a former music video producer, so it didn’t take much to sell him on the idea. Once the brother initiated contact between the B2 Entertainment partners and Brown, the ladies made their pitch and then eagerly awaited a response. After a few weeks, Brown agreed to do the show and wanted to start immediately.
Filming and editing Being Bobby Brown took nearly one year to complete and cost B2 Entertainment $1.5 million. But its debut on Bravo cable channel in June 2005 was the highest rated Thursday night premiere in the network’s 25-year history. The business partnership worked well for the six-employee company. B2 Entertainment earned nearly $2 million in 2006 and the partners are projecting $6 million in 2007.
Baker-Simmons and Shelley started B2 Entertainment (www.b2entertainment) in Shelley’s basement in 2002 using $50,000 they pooled from family and friends. Since they had been friends for eight years, shared the same work ethic, and had a passion for entrepreneurship, they decided to form a partnership. At the time, Baker-Simmons had ended a partnership in a production company she started in 1996 and Shelley, who worked in pharmaceutical sales for AstraZeneca and Novartis for eight years, was looking to leave the confines of the corporate world.
Shelley says splitting the duties was simple, as their skills