Sometimes, the most compelling reason for starting a media company is also the most simple: it’s a vision you just can’t give up. Since its launch in 2007, FASHIZBLACK has gone from just being a blog to an online community for Francophone Afropolitans. That’s rarely ever easy to pull off, but Laura Eboa Songue, the company’s co-founder did it by utilizing social media to its fullest potential.
If you’ve ever thought about starting your own media company, there’s lessons from looking at what’s driving FASHIZBLACK, the journey so far, and the plans for the future.
How did FASHIZBLACK come about?
Originally, we created our media company out of a need for more representation. The idea started off in late 2007 with a blog. Street-style was starting to get momentum in Paris and out of all the cool blogs, there was nothing representing black people.
That’s how the blog was launched. We went on to launch an official website in September 2008, a print magazine in 2012 and build a solid community online.
How have you used social media to grow your audience?
Social media made us, to be honest. It helped us understand our readership on a daily basis, connect with them, and have consistent feedback. We truly can say that we know our audience.
Also, it helped us financially, since we raised $45,000 via Kickstarter during the summer 2011. Twitter and Facebook were the main reason for the campaign’s success.
It’s really our foundation and we are thankful for our followers, they are our accountability partners.
What is your vision for African fashion?
The industry is still in its infancy, so the posibilities are endless. The structural challenges are amazing opportunities to grow and build an industry that fits our values and identities.
Do you mind sharing with us the multiple projects you work on?
Sure. Right now we are re-launching our premium print magazine so we are finalizing our contents production. My daily tasks can go from brainstorming about creative input like editorials and interviews, to corrections. I also work on partnerships, from influencers to affiliates and advertisers.
On a personal level, I work with states, institutions & key-players in the fashion industry in France and Africa, via the AFRICAFRANCE foundation, to continue our actions structuring the industry. From market studies to training solutions, lobbying and trade shows, we try to push projects that will serve as strong basis for a more consistent industry.
I also do speaking engagements here and there, when time allows it. I think it’s important to share my experience, not only to further our brand but to help out where I can.
What trends can we expect to see in African fashion in the next three years?
It’s definitely about growth and saturation. As governments and institutions (very) slowly realize how vital our cultures and know-how are core to our development as economies, the fashion industry will be provided will more efficient tools.
I’m looking forward to the birth of more African brands, both commercial and creatively successful locally and/or abroad.
How have you managed your relationship with your co-founder(s)?
That’s an awesome question. First of all, I think I am blessed with incredibly talented, but most importantly, amazing human beings as my partners.
Before being highly skilled, they have great (work) ethics, and strong values. So, it’s not hard to solve any conflict that could arise. We are pretty much always willing to learn and try not to get stuck in our own ways.
Now, I’m not saying that everything is always perfect, but I can say that we are always trying our best. And we have the company’s best interest at heart, always.
What advice would you give young African women looking to starting a career in the media?
Just do it. We need so much more voices to speak volume for us, and to us.
Starting a media is a very difficult task because it’s an extremely complex product to build and to sell, but if it’s your vision, you just can’t give up.
One thing I wish I took more seriously, is getting a mentor. It would have saved me so much hassle and opened so many doors. We had nobody to show us the way, and made all the possible mistakes in the book. But hey, at least I can truly say now that I am a master at what I do and I know many different areas of business, media, fashion and self-development.
Also, interning and training is key. Once again, I worked in luxury and fashion but we are 100% self-taught when it comes to media. So, if you can learn on someone else’s dime, please, do!
Last but not least, be extra persistent, resilient, and stick to your vision no matter what. I believe in the law of attraction, so your vision is your reality. It’s going to happen for you!
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