I was surprised when I heard they wanted to meet with me, but not overly so, because I have a reputation for being an extremely successful, competent, and pragmatic business person. It's worth their while to work with me – they wouldn't bother otherwise. What kind of business am I in, and why do Beyonce's dad and sister want to collaborate with me? I don't know, and making something up would bring me no comfort. So just sit back and relax, and don't ask too many questions.
When they arrive at my office, they are all business. Especially Solange. No chit chat. They don't accept coffee, tea, or even water. But they aren't hostile, either. They just don't mix business with pleasure. This is business, and they have places to go and people to see. They don't have all day.
We aren't friends, just associates. Beyonce might compliment your shoes or feign an interest in your recent vacation, but not Solange. What you see is what you get with Solange. She never lies, not with her words or her manner. She's here to hammer this thing out. That's all. She is sincere to her very core. The way she sees it, she doesn't really care if your kids have started school yet, so why would she ask? If she likes your shoes, she'll go home and have a serious discussion with her personal shopper to find out why she didn't get to them first. Not a tantrum, though. She just wants to find out exactly what happened.
Solange is beautiful, in a cold, distant sort of way. Her natural hair looks even more incredible in person than it does in pictures. She isn't overdressed, but her style is impeccable. Tailored, vintage-looking pants and a button down shirt that makes a bold statement, but doesn't convey the desperation for attention that flashy clothes so often do. That outfit is so entirely suited to her in every way, she could have been born in it. Her makeup is perfect.
Mr. Knowles is no pushover, but he's a little more like Beyonce than Solange. He smiles, shakes my hand, and starts to make small talk. Solange shoots him a look that lasts only a nanosecond, but lets him know this isn't what we're here for. Not that he's a whipped-dog type, or an incompetent fool who is dependent upon his daughter's skills. He most certainly is not. But you have to understand that Solange is extremely powerful. True, he's her dad and has known her since she was born, but her authoritative presence is truly staggering, something you couldn't get used to no matter how long you were around it. You've never encountered anything like it. Nobody's cowering, but nobody's contradicting her, either.
I hold my own, knowing they would never have approached me if I didn't have all their respect. We get down to business.
I write an estimate down on a piece of paper and slide it across the table toward them. Solange takes it, and tilts it so Mr. Knowles can see it, too. The sides of her mouth start to curl up, because despite herself, this is what she lives for. She loves to negotiate, and can barely contain her glee. But she does, because she has the discipline of a prima ballerina. She writes down a counteroffer and slides it back to me.
I turn over the paper over and almost laugh out loud at the lowball offer. What if I were to accept it? Solange and Mr. Knowles would probably call the whole thing off then and there, because they do not suffer fools. We're just warming up. They aren't going to sell themselves short, but I'm confident they won't try to cheat me in any way. It's not that they don't care about money – they do. Very much so. But for them, the game is almost as appealing as the prize. It's not a real competition unless everyone plays fair. They couldn't look at themselves in the mirror unless they knew they'd won fair and square. I'm not worried. I know we'll all walk away satisfied.