I will never forget the day I met Catherine Buccello.
Her and I used to work for a well-known tech company in NYC, where I was the Events Chair for the Employee Resource Group focused on Diversity & Inclusion. One Friday in June, I noticed her new face in the hallway, and I decided to invite her to one of my first rooftop happy hour afterwork events.
Once the work day ended, I headed to the lounge to begin setting up. A few moments after, I noticed her sitting on the couch with her bright red tresses, and
I immediately walked over to thank her for showing up, alone, after literally meeting me hours earlier.
She was quiet, yet observant of her new colleagues, in a new surrounding.
I created this happy hour event so that new and seasoned employees had a chance to meet & make new connections in a more relaxed, libation-filled atmosphere. Unbeknownst to Catherine, since she was alone, I kept my eyes on her to ensure she was alright and that she was interacting with her new co-workers. After chatting with a few of her peers, she left, however, that brief interaction with her was my introduction to a young woman full of dreams, audacity to live an unapologetic life, & who was unaware of the strong presence she exuded once she entered & dwelled within a space.
Fast forward 4 years later, she is one of my closest friends who continues to inspire & motivate me to take myself & my brand to the next level. She has since found her voice and is on a mission to use it to bring awareness to her community about what pains people of color, specifically black men. She executes this seamlessly through her curated events & speaking engagements.
Who is this Woman with a Mission?
Catherine Buccello AKA @retrobarbie92 BKA #BrightHairDarkLiquor is an Antiguan-Italian bred, MBA carrying, young woman in her late 20's, born and raised in Queens, New York. As a teenager, she experienced the traumatic loss of her best friend to suicide and that occurrence forever shifted her perspective & mind frame surrounding the topic of black men in such an astounding way. Due to adolescent ignorance, Catherine has realized now as an adult, that in retrospect, there were overlooked signs from her best friend that were his cries for help. As a result of such reflection, which turned into guilt & devastation from missing those signs and a call (her phone was placed on silent by accident) that led to a voicemail from him, Catherine has understandably, slept with her phone ringer on loud every night thereafter. This experience changed her forever, however, she made a decision to make a positive change within the black male community with the pain she will always carry with her.
Without much intent, after this experience, Catherine gradually became a safe space for some men of color to engage in deep dialogue with. The topics that these men have discussed with her aren't usually spoken about openly and freely, but they always felt comfortable doing so with her. This type of interaction began to happen more frequently, therefore, Catherine began to organically evolve into a content creator, event curator, and dot connector focused on bringing a voice to the men of color who deemed themselves as voiceless in a world that murders them for simply walking down the street or driving a vehicle.
As our friendship progressed, I have witnessed Catherine blossom into a powerful force within the tech sales industry, and now with her personal & business online brands. She is the Founder of #BlackMenCryToo, which is focused on the documentation of the Black male experience while providing necessary resources through her YouTube & IG Live interviews.
Her brand, BMCT, is one of the reasons I made the decision to feature her as one of my "Quarantined Dreamers," and despite this pandemic, her mission has not ceased to help men of color share their stories in a more profound way.
"The trend that started #BlackMenCryToo was the level of comfort black men had in opening up about their truth with no qualms. After sitting on a curated Mental Health Panel for #DazeSummit under former Curated Vibes Group (An events agency catered to creating genuine connections & resources for emerging creatives of color), a friend stated “I see a lot of focus on mental health these days, dominantly surrounding black women, but what about the men? Black Men Cry Too...” "
...and that is when the creative light bulb went on in Catherine's mind to create this much-needed platform! #BlackMenCryToo is helping black men express their vulnerability while shedding light on positive representations of both black men & woman engaging in necessary dialogue. Discussions focused on heavy topics such as police brutality are taking place, active listening is being taught, mental health within the black community is finally being addressed, & positive displays of black women being supportive allies to the black male community, is constantly encouraged. All of these initiatives help to surge the intrinsic healing process that black men so desperately need.
Once the internal issues are tackled, it is easier for black men to feel confident, strong, and protected as a member of the outside world that constantly breaks them down to feel worthless, and kills them off like their existence is pointless.
"Success to me looks like being in a position of power or running a business that aligns with my personal importance; I want to create an impact and leave behind a legacy. Nipsey Hussle's death really taught me the importance of leaving a legacy, and what having an impact really means to me. I want to help those within my culture get ahead."
Catherine = #BrightHairDarkLiquor
#BrightHairDarkLiquor was created by Catherine to define her as a person. She is like any other "regular," working, young woman in Corporate America. The only, and obvious difference, is that she proudly carries bright neon green, barbie pink, unicorn & mermaid blended hair. "Society has a way of making us conform to what’s deemed as normal, and as a woman, especially a woman of color, I am supposed to be grateful to even have had a space made for me. How dare I not fit a particular mold or image?!" Well, Catherine could care less to fit into anyones mold or box that they wish to put her in. She has a bold presence and an even bolder message that she is determined to peel the layers off of, and will not let anyone or anything get in her way of that.
However, because she is aware of her daring presence, at times Catherine is forced to think how the world views her....
"At times, these thoughts would play in my mind,
- Because of my neon hair, will I be taken seriously by clients that I meet almost daily, in my line of work?
- When I meet someone new, should I cover up my 15 tattoos?
- Should I order wine when I really want a Double Hennessy on the rocks?
- Is me twerking on my Instagram stories being frowned upon?
- Is my message being washed over because I use profanity?
- Am I looked at as irresponsible because I often indulge in cannabis and prefer to call it "weed" because Capitalist America dressed the word up to profit off it & stigmatized the word "weed" to associate black men using it as a means to survive in a country where they are designed to fail & be thrown in jail?
- Am I losing credibility of who I am as a professional due to how I look and all of my vocal beliefs?
- Will I make my white counterparts feel uncomfortable as the woman screaming for the rights and respect for women & for people of color?"
Despite these thoughts, Catherine continues to do all of these things while considering none of them. Her motto is, "Ask for forgiveness rather than permission right?" Without her realizing it, she was branding herself, and that is when her personal, official brand #BrightHairDarkLiquor was born. "Surface level bright hair & dark liquor is just me. I am the girl with vibrant bright hair that changes every two months, that is constantly indulging in dark liquor, cognac, whiskey, bourbon, you name it, I'm drinking it. Adding on to that, I am the creative girl navigating the business world of Corporate America. Going deeper than that I am a girl being rebellious to societal and corporate norms, sharing her life and experiences publicly with others to encourage them to step into their truth."
Live Your Life Unapologetically..Always
Although she is a huge advocate for the justice of and mental health awareness within the black community, Catherine prides herself on helping others fight against insecurities and uncertainties; things she has battled with personally. She often encourages others to feel "comfortable being, liking, wearing, enjoying, listening, watching, playing, without having to constantly think about what’s proper and digestible." She is a lover of learning & experiencing new cultures, is passionate about music, the arts, along with thought-provoking, stimulating conversation & content.
When asked about her "why," Catherine states, "My "why" is for the younger me to know she can be who I am now and where we are headed today. It is for me to be a voice for others when you feel like you are screaming in silence and no one can hear or see you."
She advises others to "understand your why and listen to what the universe is telling you. The signs are there for a reason, so you either answer them or ignore them for someone else to get the work done.....always remember to be you, everyone else is taken."
Catherine remains constant in reaching a level of success, happiness, and peace within herself. She values the peace she has found from the healing she needed from her past traumatic experiences, and continues to work through her personal issues in therapy; mental health is extremely important to her. Ultimately,happiness will be defined as having her own family and being able to continue experiencing other parts of the world through her travels.
Outside of all these amazing things that she is doing, Catherine finds her mental health outlet through CKO Kickboxing, random adventures in and out of NYC, storytelling, and making genuine connections. Although she is known for her bright hair and even brighter personality, Catherine is committed to the empowerment of the Black community, diversifying corporate communities, and advocating for self-expression.
When and if you ever meet her, more than likely she would be returning from or about to embark upon a new traveling conquest, will be dancing, and/or ordering something dark at the bar. Stop and say hello to her, and I guarantee you that you will leave much better than you did before meeting her.
Thank you for your energy and your mission, Catherine. It is much appreciated.
You can find Catherine on social media via