Brands Will Make Her Dance
Brands Will Make Her Dance

[caption id="attachment_9105" align="alignright" width="182" caption="Belinda Oakley: Franchising Executive, Rising Musician"][/caption]

Make other people’s lives better: that’s how Belinda Oakley approaches both franchising and music.

Whether working as the Vice President of Operation.....

[caption id="attachment_9105" align="alignright" width="182" caption="Belinda Oakley: Franchising Executive, Rising Musician"]Belinda Oakley[/caption]
Make other people’s lives better: that’s how Belinda Oakley approaches both franchising and music.
Whether working as the Vice President of Operations for Famous Brands International, or performing and recording music, Oakley always goes back to a line from Ani DiFranco’s “I’m No Heroine”, which she says perfectly encapsulates her life:

I just write about what I should have done, and sing what I wish I could say. And I hope somewhere, some woman hears my music and it helps her through her day.

At Famous Brands International, the parent company of TCBY and Mrs. Fields, Oakley acts as the day-to-day conduit between the corporate team and the franchisees. That role can take various forms, which Oakley said is what makes her passionate about the job.
“Every day something new happens and every individual operator has an individual need,” said Oakley. “You have an awesome ability and equal responsibility to make someone’s life better.”
When she’s not working to make the lives of franchisees better, Oakley is making an impact with her music. Oakley is currently working on her second EP, which goes into production next month and is scheduled to be released November 19th, available on her official website.  She said the album was inspired by the music of Joni Mitchell and Carole King and is a nod to the hours she’s spent listening to vinyl on her record player at home. Oakley’s first EP, Bittersweet, was released in 2011 and is also available on her website as well as on iTunes. She has her own Pandora station and has recorded music videos, including one for her song “Come Back”:

Oakley, the daughter of a folk singer, may have music ability in her blood. She has been singing in front of audiences ever since she landed a spot in a well-known choir in Tasmania when she was just 5 years old. Her musical love affair continued to grow as she participated in musical theater productions, as well as through what she calls her “angsty” teen years when she started to find and develop her own voice. Soon enough, she was performing with a regular band and competing in musical competitions across the country, before pursuing a solo career as a singer/songwriter.
Oakley’s career in franchising also started at a relatively young age in her native Australia, where franchising accounts for more than 10 percent of the gross domestic product.  As a teenager, she took a job at Brumby’s as a store manager, before being promoted to an area manager, in charge of 30 stores, at the age of 19. After stints in franchise development and company operations in London, she landed in Los Angeles in 2011, accepting the job of regional operations manager at Famous Brands International. She was named Vice President of Operations in January of this year.
“Music and franchising are the two things that are constant in my life, regardless of where I am,” Oakley said.
Those two constants have not run completely parallel paths in Oakley’s life. Still, she’s found a number of ways to marry the two passions.
Her job often requires her to travel, so Oakley will set up gigs and shows in the cities where she stays. She also believes that her songwriting and performing help her to be a better communicator on the franchising side; Oakley said that interacting with an audience is the same as interacting with a co-worker, client, or franchisee.
“As a songwriter, you’re always thinking about this emotion or feeling I want to express, asking ‘How do you reach that audience’?” said Oakley. “It’s not always about the words that you’re going to say, but how you’re going to actually connect with someone else, and understanding what they are connected to is important.”
In fact, to Oakley, the two can’t exist separately—they’ve become intertwined.
“The corporate has actually enabled me to do my art financially, and I actually think that my art has helped me on the corporate side to look outside the box when approaching an issue or problem,” said Oakley. “In franchising and in music, it’s all about making a difference in someone else’s life.”