''I needed to be able to show my girls that you have to respect yourself,'' says Brandy
Eric Washington kisses his daughter for luck, but wedded bliss didn't last long for Brandy
Brandy kept her faith through her struggles
Brandy and her daughters show off their love for shoes
Taking the girls to Disney
When the decisions we make bring unexpected hardships it is not something we enjoy, but for Brandy Carter, it helped her to learn one very important thing – to respect herself.
Born in Knoxville to parents Eric and Joan Washington, Brandy came from a stable home life filled with love and security. Her parents raised their three daughters with strong faith and good values.
Brandy felt her parents were stricter on her because she was the older of her two sisters, Erica and Michelle, and she felt it made her focused and determined.
She began working at age 15.
She found her first job at Arby’s and she also worked at TJ Maxx. “I am a shoe-girl,” Brandy laughs.
Then she confides, “I went through a lot during my high school years with a relationship I had. I was very insecure and I found freedom in fashion – it was something in which I could choose to do whatever I wanted to do. I always bought my own things and I bought my first car. I was very independent,” Brandy says.
Brandy was involved with the drama club and she and her best friend were given the opportunity to do a radio commercial. They were paid for their effort. At one point Brandy felt she wanted to become an actress, but by the time she headed for college, she had her heart set on becoming an attorney and studied criminal justice at UTC.
The few years before college when Brandy was in a negative relationship, she felt ‘strung along’ and she ended up breaking up with the boy who she says was seen starting a fire at her home in which the family lost the majority of everything they owned.
“That was a hard time for us. We stayed with my pastor for a few months, but I felt I didn’t really have clothes to wear or the mindset to start college right then,” Brandy admits.
Her mother was very supportive and encouraged Brandy to be careful not to allow her relationships to interfere with her goals and dreams, but this was something Brandy would have to learn the hard way.
When she was later able to attend UTC, Brandy fell in love once again. She allowed that love to be her main focus before she had formed her own path or achieved her goals.
As time went on, Brandy lost her sense of self-worth and forgot that she was the strong, independent woman who deserved respect not only from a man – but from herself.
She had moved in with her boyfriend hoping they would eventually marry and, shortly after, Brandy was pregnant with her first child. She started working at Logan’s to make ends meet.
“When I found out I was pregnant, my boss told me I would never finish college and I was determined to prove him wrong,” Brandy says.
Brandy studied hard and tried to keep up with her new baby and her job, but then became pregnant with her second daughter.
“My boss tried to make me believe that I may have made it with one child, but I might as well hang it up if I were going to have two. I did not want to be a statistic. I had never forgotten that he told me I would not graduate and I carried that with me as I walked across the stage,” an unwavering Brandy says.
Finally, the father of her children proposed to her while she was carrying their second child.
Brandy continued to study the LSAT, but raising two daughters and working proved nearly impossible. After she graduated, her then fiance was not working and it was up to Brandy to be the provider.
When her fiance kept putting off choosing a date for them to be married, Brandy felt he wasn’t serious about marrying her and she broke it off while trying to move away from another negative relationship.
Moving back to Knoxville, Brandy took a management position at Logan’s and did her best to move forward. While she made progress, the father of her children appeared on the scene once again causing Brandy to still hope.
She had witnessed the stable marriage of her parents and she wanted that for her own girls.
Brandy moved back to Chattanooga with her children’s father and took a job with Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Cleveland. She earned an untypical promotion after just three months in sales and passing the normal ranks.
Brandy discovered that sales was ‘her thing’ and she not only enjoyed her career, but found a new sense of confidence and self-esteem.
When she was approached by Enterprise of Knoxville to join its car sales department Brandy hoped since her boyfriend was making less money, that he would support a move to Knoxville and allow her to take the opportunity.
When the idea was not supported and a marriage date was still not set, Brandy took her girls to Knoxville to start over.
While allowing him to visit the girls, Brandy’s involvement with their father never seemed to have a closed chapter.
As she began doing well and making progress, it was then that her ex-boyfriend came on strong wooing her and courting her until she was hopeful to believe her family would finally be whole.
“That was the father of my two children and I loved him. We had been together all these years… it was comfortable,” Brandy admits.
After proposing marriage again and making promises to move to Knoxville, Brandy felt this time was really it and that time had allowed them both to mature and they would finally be a family just as she had hoped.
Eventually, plans changed and Brandy had to move back to Chattanooga instead and commuted back and forth to Knoxville for work. The couple finally married and less than six months later Brandy’s husband filed for divorce.
Brandy knew it was probably for the best and that she would not have had the courage to make the decision herself, but with the hope for what her parents had along with her faith she felt pressed to keep making it work.
“I thought I could just pray and the Lord would change it,” Brandy says.
It wasn’t until her divorce that the light came on for Brandy and she realized that she lost the person she used to be.
In making life choices she had moved away from the determined, self-confident woman she was brought up to be and little by little she lost her identity. Brandy had not demanded the respect she should have because she stopped respecting herself.
After working in other sales positions, Brandy was offered a position with J103 Christian radio station. She had gotten her own apartment with the girls and became more involved in her church. She eventually bought her own house, but Brandy was still angry inside.
During a church service, Brandy went to the alter to pray. “I was angry. I was over my husband and was moving on with my life and he interrupted my progress. I allowed him to take me back through it all again and now I had to overcome a divorce,” Brandy says.
Her pastor consoled her and said that she didn’t know what divorce felt like but she had heard it was like mourning a death. She told Brandy that if she would ask the Lord to help her, He would. Then Brandy heard her say, “The Lord said to remain faithful, He is going to send you a man that respects you.”
Brandy had not told her pastor why she was divorced, but the pastor somehow knew her husband did not have any respect for her.
“She could have said so many different things. She could have said, ‘God will send a man who loves you’ or she could have said, ‘God will send you a man who will provide for you’ but she said respect and that changed my whole world around,” Brandy says.
“That’s when I knew I had to love myself more and I knew my ex didn’t have any respect for me. I didn’t have any respect for myself and that was not what I wanted to show my girls,” Brandy insists.
With her girls now in their pre-teen years, Brandy is delights that they are involved with Girls Inc. and attending every camp they have. This year they will join the themed camp called ‘Work It Girl’ where they will be introduced to the concept of owning a business.
“They are always in the news when it comes to Girls Inc. They have met a lot of wonderful people and it is a great opportunity for them. They have been to places that I have never been,” Brandy says.
Working at J103, Brandy was walking taller in spirit, in her self-esteem and …she also became known for her shoes.
“My clients would tell me, ‘We love to see you come in because we want to know what kind of shoes you are going to have on today’,” Brandy laughs. “And whenever I go to the doctor’s office the first thing they do is look at my feet. My friends will send me links to different shoe websites or send me random pictures of shoes. It’s really funny. I broke my ankle a few months ago and have not been able to wear high heels …and I’m devastated,” quips the shoe-queen.
“I loved working at J103. It was more than a job, it was a ministry and they really live out what they preach on the air. We would have a meeting every Monday and we would pray together. It was a place where I was not scared to talk about my faith and what the Lord has done for me,” Brandy says.
“The only reason I left and took my current job was for higher income. As a single mom, I had to provide for my girls and I had a house now… and all those shoes to buy,” Brandy jokes.
&Now a merchant sales consultant with BB&T Bank, Brandy covers a large territory from Nashville to Knoxville.
She is an ambassador of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, and is a notary public at Greater Emmanuel Apostolic Church. She sits on its executive board and is the special events coordinator.
Brandy has come a long way in creating a life for herself and to be a good role model for her daughters.
“I know I am a strong woman, I know I can support myself… I know that I can do all that,” Brandy asserts, “but I needed to be able to show my girls that you have to respect yourself.”